Tide Ventures into the Swamp
Next up, Alabama takes on the Florida Gators in the Swamp. Gone is legendary Gator quarterback Tim Tebow and his coach, Urban Meyer, but left behind are a boat load of talented players attempting to adjust to a new coaching style and system.
In the movie Independence Day, the slightly mad scientist, Dr. Brakish Okun, noted the aliens destroying earth were as frail as humans were, you just had to get through their technology first.
Florida coaches may come and go, but they always have fast, talented players. Here are eight of them.
Florida receiver Chris Rainey—or, as he is known around the Florida campus as, "The Stalker"—is averaging 8.4 yards every time he touches the ball. His 429 yards rushing leads all Gator running backs.
Assuming he can stay out of legal trouble for one more week, Alabama will have to find a way to corral the Lakeland Florida product who was rated 4-stars by Rivals.
At 5'9", he probably won't power through Alabama's defense, but they better cut him off early because they won't catch him if he gets a step.
Very similar to Rainey is Jeff Demps, who was also rated a 4-star athlete by Rivals. Demps hails from Groveland, Florida.
He is averaging an even more scary 9.1 yards every time he touches the ball. Like Rainey, you don't want to give this guy an edge—he's scary fast.
Both Rainey and Demps will return kicks, which makes them even more dangerous.
Looking further, Florida is home to even more flashy receivers. Deonte Thompson has averaged over 23 yards per carry thus far this season.
From Belle Glade, Florida, Thompson was another highly-rated recruit. Seriously though, I could probably take my pick from the roster. Freshman receiver Quinton Dunbar, for example is averaging 27 yards per carry so far this season.
Quarterback John Brantley
Last year was just about Armageddon for John Brantley. He had the unenviable job of coming after Tim Tebow at Florida. His team was a poorly-coached rolling police crime blotter and they ran a spread system unsuited to his pocket-passer skills.
Brantley probably would not be at Florida now if coach Will Muschamp had not brought the pro-set offense to the Swamp.
Running a system suited to his ability, Brantley is now a dangerous man. His statistics thus far are comparable to Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron's.
McCarron throws for a slightly better percentage—66 percent to 63 percent—but Brantley throws for more yardage per attempt at 8.7 verses McCarron's 8.2.
Neither quarterback is a threat to run.
Jonathan Bostic is yet another highly-ranked recruit out of Palm Beach, Florida. He currently leads the Gators in tackles with 26. He also has four tackles behind the line and two sacks.
At 6'1" and 240 lbs or better, Bostic has the speed and size to match up with any SEC runner.
If linebacker Jonathan Bostic has a twin, his name is apparently Jelani Jenkins. Only slightly smaller than Bostic, Jenkins is second in tackles with 17 (with one behind the line and one sack).
Jenkins, who is an import from Olney, Maryland, was the No.1-ranked high school linebacker in America, according to Rivals, with a 5-star rating.
Matt Elam was rated a 5-star defensive back by Rivals. From West Palm Beach, Florida, Elam earned the No. 2 spot at his position from the college site.
In 2010 he has not disappointed, amassing 17 tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble. He's a great asset to the team...when sober.
Which, according to police reports, isn't all the time.
Defensive end Jaye Howard reminds me of a poor man's Marcel Dareus. I doubt he will be drafted as high as Dareus, but he has definitely shown some ability for the next level.
How disruptive has Howard been? Try 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and a recovered fumble.
Alabama tackles will have their hands full with him.