Six Things Florida Must Do To Top the Tide in Tuscaloosa
Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) Since my Gator counterpart was too timid to take up the mantle and put his article out on what Florida must do to beat Alabama, I'll post it myself.
Personally, if I were Florida I would be upset, embarrassed and more than a little ticked off that Las Vegas put them in as a nine to 9.5 point favorite.
I would use that as a lot of motivation. The Gators haven't been an underdog in the past 39 games they've played.
Florida is the No. 7 team in the U.S. and the No. 10 team (last week) lost by just four points. So to say a better team will lose twice as bad as a lesser team is a downright insult.
But on to what you're here to read, the six things Florida must do to beat Alabama.
1. Don't be awed by the new stadium and 100,000+ people in it. Most of these players are new to Bryant Denny Stadium and it does have a good home field advantage. With the South end closed in, it's going to be louder than ever.
Practice your silent counts in Gainesville under those kind of conditions and just phase out all the noise you can.
2. Don't leave points on the table. Every red-zone opportunity has to result in seven points; they won't win with field goals.
Even if it means going for it on fourth down, they need touchdowns. I see this being a tough game, but one where Alabama won't settle for many field goals and will score a lot of TDs.
3. Gamble on defense and blitz. Alabama is not a good third-and-long team, but they'll convert third-and-fives all day long.
When rushed last week McElroy made some uncharacteristic mistakes and had two picks. Sell out and occasionally go for sacks and hurries with blitzes.
If given time, McElroy is about as good as there is, so even if you don't blitz, show it often and see if you can make him check off and change a play.
4. Throw more out of the "Wildcat" look. Alabama is expecting Burton to run from the wildcat, but the one throw he did last week went for 42 yards. If Burton can throw from the QB spot then the safeties can't creep up to support the run.
Let Alabama see you line up with Burton at QB, then shift and put Brantley there, in the confusion you might get lucky once or twice.
Even an end around pass out of the wildcat might work since Alabama seems to over pursue with defensive backs.
You can confuse the Bama defensive backs once, maybe twice, then they adjust, so use it when you have to have it.
5. Take advantage of the short middle on throws. As good as Alabama's linebackers are in run support, they have been equally bad at pass defense.
If Florida can put a back just behind the linebackers after a play action fake, or a tight end to block first then drag across the middle, that will be paydirt for the Gators on two levels.
It moves the chains and moves the clock. You don't want to either score too quickly or go three-and-out because Alabama's game plan is built around wearing your defense down. These kinds of plays keeps them resting on the sidelines.
Hightower and others have shown problems with pass defense and mine that gold until it's gone.
6. Keep your composure. Alabama has an irritating habit of easing up in the middle of the game, so if they do build up a lead, trust that they will do this again and your composure will let you come back on them.
If you build up an early lead like Arkansas did, keep your poise and keep doing what's working. Don't let yourselves ease up.
Few teams are able to put Alabama away, because they make such good second-half adjustments. Be ready with your own and realize that what worked in the first half won't work so well against a Nick Saban team.
He'll have them ready for it in the second half, so be prepared with your own adjustments to that.
And there it is, an Alabama insiders guide on how to beat the Tide. The problem is doing it, not planning it, however.
So while you are watching the game, look to see if Florida takes my advice. If they can pull off four of the six, they stand a good chance of pulling the upset.
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