Alabama barely overtakes Florida in SEC opening

GAINESVILLE, Fla – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has calmed down. A much tighter-than-expected game saw Gators fans infuse the air with deaf...


GAINESVILLE, Fla – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has calmed down. A much tighter-than-expected game saw Gators fans infuse the air with deafening chants as they made one last ditch effort to push their team past the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Gators’ 31-29 loss confirmed what the Crimson Tide football team already knew, and what their opponents feared: that Alabama program that Disemboweled Ohio State just nine months ago is reloaded and has his sights set on his next national title.

But Saturday’s performance was far from perfect for the Crimson Tide. They committed 12 penalties for 87 yards. They left their running match at Tuscaloosa, gaining just 91 yards on the ground. They made mistakes in the stretch that kept them from pulling away from the Gators, like when wide receiver Slade Bolden dropped a sure-fire touchdown down the center of the end zone in the third quarter.

The Alabama defense, which allowed just 135 rushing yards against Miami and Mercer, surrendered 258 yards to the Gators, including a 17-yard touchdown from Dameon Pierce, the running back who waltzed into the zone. goals nearly intact at the end of the fourth quarter to put Florida within two points of a comeback.

A failed two-point attempt from Florida followed that play, however, stopping the Gators at a two-point deficit and ultimately preventing them from causing an upset.

What separates Alabama from almost every other team in the country is their ability to beat their opponents on holidays like Saturday.

Not that a Nick Saban-led team would be dismissed before any season – Alabama was Ranked # 1 in Associated Press Top-25 Preseason Poll – but that’s not the same team that beat the Buckeyes in the 2020 College Football Playoff Championship game. Ten of the players who adjusted for that game are now playing in the NFL. Typically, teams with this type of roster rotation see varying degrees of decline next season. You certainly wouldn’t expect them to be in playoff contention.

Last season, LSU looked little like the dominant 2019 squad that crossed the Southeastern Conference en route to a 15-0 season and a college football playoff victory. He lost 14 players to the NFL a few months later, including quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receiver Justin Jefferson, and limped to a 5-5 record in 2020.

Alabama’s ability to produce NFL-ready talent seemingly every season, as other teams spend years recruiting and building up to this point, is what created a wedge between them and many ‘others. And if Saturday’s game provided a glimpse of what to expect from the Crimson Tide in conference, it looks like Saban has once again assembled a team ready to make another college football playoff appearance.

“I talked about it when I got here,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said after the game, referring to when he took over the program in 2018. “I want a team that can compete for them. championships consistently.And in order to do that, you’re going to have to beat Alabama.

Throughout his 15-year tenure at Tuscaloosa, Saban and his staff have demonstrated an ongoing ability to recruit and deploy talent at a rate seemingly unmatched by even the most successful programs in the country.

Mike Locksley, Maryland coach and former offensive coordinator under Saban, said in an interview this year that he believes Alabama’s adoption of dazzling aerial play has helped the program attract more players. talented in the years after stars like Julio Jones electrified Tuscaloosa. .

“I would venture to say that if they had turned around again and raced 45, 50 times a game, it would be difficult to recruit qualified receivers,” he said. “But I think the numbers that guys like Julio and Amari Cooper put in and then obviously Calvin Ridley created that mindset that you can go out there as a receiver and still put numbers in that attacking style, and that allows you to recruit more guys with that type of skill and that type of skill set, which then opens up your attack to be as diverse as it has become.

The Crimson Tides have never seen a losing season under Saban and have avoided regressing, successfully reloading their roster every year. Saban’s program has signed the best recruiting class in the country in eight of the past 10 seasons. He came second behind Georgia in 2020 and 2018.

“Obviously, Coach Saban and his staff are the best recruiters, and they also do a great job with the team attitude,” said Steve Spurrier, who won the Heisman as a quarterback from Florida in 1966.

Spurrier pointed out that the crowd was Florida’s biggest advantage heading into Saturday’s game. Although Saban said after the game that he believed sophomore quarterback Bryce Young handled the game well despite the noise from the crowds, the 90,000 fans at their home stadium, known as the Swamp , certainly made a difference in the game, forcing Saban’s typically disciplined team to make mistakes.

Saban told reporters that some of the team’s errors were the result of issues with the number of snaps.

“The center struggled to hear a few times and slammed the ball late,” Saban said, later adding: “Overall I think there is a lot to learn. I hope our team will be able to learn from this experience.

The Florida defense, which had been much maligned in 2020 and the first two games of the season, forced Young to make uncomfortable throws, resulting in incompleteness that pissed off Florida fans in attendance. But the Florida offense consistently missed opportunities to capitalize on these missteps, and the Alabama offense did just enough to stay ahead.

“Our guys were expecting to win the game today,” Mullen said, adding, “When you play in championship-level games, the margin of error is going to get extremely small.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: Alabama barely overtakes Florida in SEC opening
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