Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) Alabama will have little time to relish a come from behind win against No. 10 Arkansas and even less time to iron out the kinks before facing No. 7 Florida.
Arkansas put a scare in the Crimson Tide Nation this past Saturday and exposed several weaknesses in the heretofore solid armor of the Tide. These were problems you can be sure that Florida will study and incorporate into their attack this week when they come to Tuscaloosa.
So with that in mind, what are the main things Alabama must do to keep from being Gator bit?
1. Play for 60 minutes. That's something the players have heard from day one, but clearly the Tide took the first quarter off last week and did little more in the second. Only with the game on the line did Alabama start looking like Alabama.
Since Arkansas scored so quickly, they now realize they can't even take one play off or for granted.
2. Don't fall behind. With all due respect to Arkansas, their overall depth left many with the feeling the Tide could come back on them as they wore down late in the game.
But Florida has the same kind of talent they do in Tuscaloosa and it will be hard to wear this Gator team down like other teams. The Gators have the ability to keep their foot on the gas and won't slow down like Arkansas did.
Falling behind could be a fatal mistake here.
3. Play the run and the pass equally. Last week Florida played a good SEC opponent and was more than efficient at running and throwing. They put up 48 points—twice Alabama's total—and had 290 yards of passing and 176 yards of rushing.
Alabama can not focus on just one aspect of the offense as they did against Arkansas. Florida can hurt you with either the pass or run. Which leads us to number four.
4. Control the "Wildcat". Florida back up quarterback Trey Burton ran for five touchdowns and threw one pass for a 42 yard gain last week, so the "Wildcat" can not be overlooked by the Tide as well.
5. Force Florida to play your kind of game. Establish the run and keep Florida's explosive offense on the sideline. Limit their opportunities on offense.
No offense to Kentucky running back Derrick Locke, but he gained 104 yards against Louisville, 102 yards against Western Kentucky, 166 yards against Akron and then 103 on Florida.If Florida's run defense is equal to Louisville and Akron's, then Alabama could simply run it down their throat all day long.
Nothing tears the heart out of a team like having the ball run down your throat while you watch it happen with no way of stopping it.
6. Cut the mistakes. Last week Florida was penalized nine times for 63 yards and threw one interception. Alabama had six penalties for just 45 yards, but had a record three interceptions.
Alabama can't afford to have turnovers this week and the penalties could be at the worst possible time.
Should Alabama accomplish these six things, it won't really matter what Florida does.
Last week Alabama had major trouble disposing of the nation's No. 10 team. This week they face the No. 7 team. The victory won't be any easier, but at least they'll have the home fiel to lean on.
The game will be carried by CBS Sports this Saturday with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
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