Well, the day of reckoning approaches: Nick Saban and his Crimson Steamroller are coming to our city, and they're bringing the Alabama hype machine known as ESPN's College Gameday with them. This post begins a series of previews for what is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated games of the Spurrier era. The loss to Auburn certainly took a bit of the luster off this matchup, but it's still a big one. Here are a few things to think about when we're on offense.
3. Can Our Receivers Get Separation?
Florida was most successful last week when it threw the ball down field. When John Brantley had time to throw, he was able to pick out open receivers fairly effectively. The same goes for Ryan Mallett and Arkansas. We have a receiving corps that's similarly talented, and I believe big plays are to be had down field against the Tide's talented but young secondary.
By the way, 'Bama might be the only team we play that doesn't give up a huge height differential to our receivers. Dre Kirkpatrick is 6'3 at corner. Wow!
2. Can We Run between the Tackles?
We certainly won't have as much success running the ball against 'Bama as we did against UGA. However, this isn't the 'Bama rush defense of past years, as Terrence Cody and others are gone. Florida had some limited success running dives against 'Bama, and that was with a banged up Jeffrey Demps. Could Marcus Lattimore do better? Probably, but I'm skeptical as to whether or not it'll be enough to make this a viable way to move the ball.
1. Can We Contain the 'Bama Pass Rush?
This, to me, is the key. While Brantley was able to get the ball downfield when he had time, he very rarely had much time. Marcell Dareus and company made things difficult for Brantley, and the results were predictable. You have to worry about what will happen if the Tide puts similar pressure on Stephen Garcia. Not only will it limit Garcia's ability to move the ball downfield, but it will also potentially cause Garcia to make the kind of mistakes that we simply can't afford to see in a game like this. If we finish -1 or worse in the turnover margin, we're probably toast unless something unpredictable happens. The key here is for our line to play well and to either try to get the run game going or, as we did early on against Auburn, to use screens and check downs to keep 'Bama honest.