College GameDay crew explains how Florida can show it will compete with Alabama next weekend
The Florida Gators have a spot in the SEC Championship Game next weekend locked up after winning the SEC East title.
But, when they face No. 1 Alabama, many have the Crimson Tide as heavy favorites.
So, as the Gators head into Saturday’s game against LSU, the ESPN College GameDay crew of Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Kirk Herbstreit explained what Florida can do to prove it can hang with the Crimson Tide:
“Florida, they can probably match Alabama’s firepower offensively,” Howard said. “Kadarius Toney, Kyle Pitts and that crew. I love the way they just attack defenses. Florida’s issues have been on defense. They haven’t been able to stop anybody early. They’ve gotten better, but in order for me to say ‘OK, this team can beat Alabama,’ they’re going to have to show they’ve improved greatly on defense. They’re going to have to get pressure on Mac Jones. That’s what it’s going to come down to. If you can’t get pressure on Mac Jones, lights out against Alabama.”
Pollack agreed that defense was an issue, but added that Florida’s run game needs to improve, too:
“How about some balance on offense?” he said. “17 carries for 19 yards last week? That’s not good enough. If you get that one-dimensional against Alabama, it’s not going to end well. Today, try to establish that run game and get it going. I know you like 5 wides and you can spread it out and you’re good at it, but I would like to see more balance on offense.”
Meanwhile, in Herbstreit’s mind, Florida needs to play to its strengths and simply light up the scoreboard next weekend:
“We keep saying Bama is doing such a good job, they’re communicating well on the back end, they’re in position to make plays on the ball,” Herbstreit said. “But, next week, whether they run the ball or not, you know with (Kyle) Trask and Pitts, that whole group — they have so many different weapons, they’re loaded. Next week, how does Florida beat them? Outscore them. You’re just going to have to make more plays at the skill spots and hope that’s enough to beat Mac Jones and that talented Alabama offense.”
We’ll see how Dan Mullen’s squad looks this weekend against LSU. A convincing win there may cause the momentum to swing a bit more toward the Gators entering the Dec. 19 SEC title game.