The Crimson Tide faithful stuck around the Georgia Dome and watched their players celebrate a dominating victory over the then #1 Florida Gators. Chants, mock chomps, and crimson flags flew high as the Tide won 32-13 in front of a packed arena.
No matter how Gator fan wants to spin it, it was a beat down. Urban Meyer was out-coached. Tim Tebow was out-played. And Florida’s legendary defense was out-matched. I keep hearing this obnoxious saying from the UF following, “The better team lost.” I’ve got news for you: the better team never loses.
Let’s start with the offense. I’m not sure what Addazio, Florida’s offensive coordinator, was thinking. Down 26-13 in the second half, Florida completely abandoned the run. That shows me Meyer and company coached scared and felt the need to play the “catch up” game even though they were down by two possessions. UF has three stud running backs, not including Tebow, and they were absolutely underutilized. Even if ‘Bama stops Rainey for a one yard gain on multiple chances, Florida has to continue to try and pound the ball to wear their defense out. The Tide’s D was fresh all game, while the Gator’s looked gassed.
Before the game even started, we all knew ‘Bama was going to try and make Tebow uncomfortable by blitzing him, et cetera, but he was never really pressured. Instead, Alabama’s defense kept him in the pocket and I saw a troubled QB unable to get the ball to the receivers he wanted to. Tim’s a much better quarterback out of the pocket and Saban’s defense was very well-disciplined by keeping Tebow from getting outside.
Florida’s receivers once again did not help Tim at all. I said it from the very 1st game of the season: If the wide outs didn’t correct their dropping problem, it was going to become an epidemic for the rest of the season. We all saw the results.
Now on to Florida’s defense. Ingram tore UF’s defense apart, both rushing and receiving. ‘Bama had the ball for 2/3rd’s of the game. Their offense was going to hold onto the ball, kill clock, and not allow UF’s offense to get on the field to get into any kind of rhythm. Greg McElroy surprised me with his poise and composure. He looked like a man on a mission, carving UF’s stout secondary for 239 passing yards. He doesn’t get those stats without the game’s MVP, Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and also had 76 receiving. I personally think that seals the Heisman for the kid, but that’s a topic for another day.
Like I said earlier, Florida’s defense looked tired. In the second half, they were uncharacteristically missing tackles and getting blown into the backfield by ‘Bama’s offensive linemen. I watched Tide’s center, Williams Vlachos, own Brandon Spikes on many occasions. Would a Carlos Dunlap have helped in this situation? No. Alabama was never in a spot where they had to throw the ball. The Tide just ran it down the Gator’s throats, and, although Dunlap is a phenomenal player, he isn’t as stout in the run game as he is the passing game. Was it a distraction? Maybe, but Charlie Strong, Florida’s defensive coordinator, needs to make sure his men are focused and prepared to play. They weren’t and we see what happens. I’m not placing the blame on Strong at all, but his second half adjustments were horrible. I think Strong talking to Virginia and Louisville was more of a distraction to UF’s defense than Dunlap was, but I digress…
Be proud, Gator fans. You had an incredible run and you’ll arguably be considered for the “Team of the Decade” award come season’s end. Hold your heads high because your team accomplished something few have. Quit with the baby excuses and get ready for Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Good luck!