The young Florida Gators football team is on the road today in Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium. While not many outside of Gator Nation believe Florida can come out with a win, a victory is a distinct possibility.
Let’s take a look at three keys to a Gator victory today.
1) Offensive line must be able to pass block effectively and do it consistently.
Sounds pretty intuitive but this an area the Gators have struggled the last few seasons. Against Kentucky last week with yet another patchwork lineup the Gators had several miscues and missed assignments that left quarterback Jeff Driskel rushing throws and making mistakes. They got away with it against a young but talented Wildcat defensive front seven, barely.
Alabama, however, is deep and experienced and a much taller order than last week and the Gators cannot afford any breakdowns. Driskel has all the skills necessary to lead the Gators to an upset but only if he has time to go through his progressions and spread the ball effectively. When hurried Driskel’s accuracy drops dramatically.
2) The Gators must establish the run.
Again it’s pretty intuitive but in big games, particularly in the SEC usually the team that wins the rushing battle wins the game.
On the road against arguably their toughest opponent, the Gators must avoid being one dimensional getting themselves in bad down and distance situations. If the Tide defensive line can tee off on Diskel, it will be a long afternoon for the Gators in Tuscaloosa.
The Gators’ stable of talented running backs mostly Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor need to get cranked up early and often against the Tide. If they can it will open up tremendous opportunities in the passing game, particularly the deep ball.
With Demarcus Robinson, Quinton Dunbar, and Andre Debose able to stretch the field vertically, the Gators must pressure the safeties and corners into peeking into the backfield and force the linebackers to make decisions opening up the play action.
If the Gators can rush for over 150 yards today that should bode well for their chances to come out with the upset today.
3) The Gators must be able to generate a significant and consistent pass rush.
Again, pretty intuitive right? Well this is another area the Gators have struggled recently and did so for much of the second half against Kentucky where the lineman appeared to be gassed and lose their legs a little bit.
Against Alabama they’ll need to be effective throughout at getting pressure in quarterback Blake Sims. This far, Sims has faced little pressure and has looked good running the Tide attack. The Gators will need to find a way to disrupt the rhythm and timing of the quarterback and wide receivers to take some pressure off the young secondary which showed that it is very vulnerable and has a long ways to go to reach the level of previous Gator secondaries.
If they cannot effectively pressure the quarterback, Sums and company will have a field day and the Gators will be hard pressed to pull off the upset today.