Alabama-FSU matchups SEC Network analysts are most excited to see
As we grow closer to one of the most anticipated season-opening games in recent memory, the crew from SEC Now recently offered their opinions on the most anticipated matchups of next week’s Alabama-Florida State game.
SEC Now’s Laura Rutledge, Jordan Rodgers and Chris Doering broke down the game which is set for 8 p.m. Sept. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Rodgers said that while Jalen Hurts’ development with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will be a point of focus for many, the game will be decided along the offensive and defensive lines. Rodgers said there is plenty of talent on the defensive side of the roster at Alabama in Da’ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand, Raekwon Davis, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison.
“This game is going to be won and lost in the trenches,” Rodgers said. “When it comes to Alabama’s front seven, replacing the type of talent that they did and their ability to put pressure on Deondre Francois, who’s a great quarterback, and more often than not was on his back last year after delivering touchdowns or getting sacks.”
Rodgers said he’s heard reports that players like Shaun Dion Hamilton and Fitzpatrick have offered some leadership in the offseason. But he still wonders how that will unfold when the players hit adversity.
Doering brought up Fitzpatrick’s versatility against the Florida State receivers, including Auden Tate, Nyqwan Murray and Keith Gavin. Doering wondered how the Alabama coaching staff would use Fitzpatrick, who could play the “Star” position.
“That’s where I think he’s most dangerous, he’s able to blitz off the slot, could be physical in the slot against Tate, who’s a bigger guy they use inside and outside,” Doering said. “Can they use him in a way that protects him, because last time we saw this defensive backfield, they gave up 420 yards against Clemson. Even though they’re highly touted, they’ve certainly had some instances where they didn’t play the ball very well in the air.”
Both analysts outlined that Hurts’ development, especially in the passing game, will be watched closely. Will Daboll allow him to go through the playbook and throw down the field? Will Florida State keep the Alabama quarterback in the pocket and force him to prove he can accurately throw down the field consistently?
“I’m not buying it until I see it,” Doering said. “Keep him inside the pocket. Put pressure on him, bring guys from different places, try to get him off balance and make him make some difficult reads and accurate throws.”