The #3 Alabama Crimson Tide set the tone from the get go as they scored on their first offensive play of the game. 42 points and 645 yards later, the Crimson Tide handily won against the Gators by a score of 42-21. Alabama's 645 yards of offense against the Gators is the most that Florida has ever allowed against an opponent!
The defense kept the Gators in the game by forcing four turnovers, but this still couldn't prevent the floodgates from opening. The turning point of the game came in the third quarter after a 16 play, seven minute drive (where Alabama converted five third downs including a 3rd and 23) put the Tide up 28-21. The defensive collapse on third down demoralized the Gators and the offense ended up going three and out the following series.
Since the defense prevented this game from potentially being a 50 point loss, I will start with them. The secondary gave up two explosive pass plays to Kenyan Drake and Amari Cooper and recorded one interception off a deflection. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III did all he could against Cooper as the wide receiver caught 10 balls for 201 yards and three touchdowns. As for the one throwing the ball to Cooper, quarterback Blake Simms completed 23 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns
On the ground, the Tide certainly were rolling as running back Derrick Henry ran for 111 yards on 20 carries for one touchdown. Henry was the one who converted 3rd and 23 after catching a screen and running to the 4 yard line. Henry's partner in crime was T.J. Yeldon, who ran the ball 18 times for 58 yards and no touchdowns. At some points in the third and fourth quarters, Bama's running attack looked nearly unstoppable! The Tide ended the day with 196 rushing yards.
Despite Alabama's record breaking performance, I can still find some Gator defensive players worth highlighting. Linebacker Antonio Morrison was the one who snatched Florida's only interception of the day. Safety Keanu Neal had eight total tackles on the day as well as a forced fumble that he himself recovered and ran back for a touchdown. Leon Orr and Marcus Maye both had forced fumbles in today's game that were recovered by VH3 and Dante Fowler. Defensive lineman Alex McCalister was able to break through and record the only sack of the game on Blake Simms.
Even though they gave up the most offensive yards in the history of Gator football, I cannot blame the defense. They kept the Gators in the game and set the offense up with good field position after almost every turnover. When the defense is on the field for a much longer time than the offense, especially against one of the best teams of this decade, it's hard to ask for a stop every time.
The Gator offense was the complete opposite of Alabama's as they only totaled 200 yards. Quarterback Jeff Driskel completed just nine of his 28 passes for 93 yards and one touchdown while also throwing two interceptions. Florida's leading receiver was tight end Clay Burton who had three catches for 33 yards. The only Gator receiver to record a touchdown catch was Valdez Showers. It was his only catch of the day.
Florida's running game was nonexistent as Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones, and Kelvin Taylor all combined to rush for 107 yards. Driskel ran for 59 yards, the most of any Gator rusher, and had Florida's only rushing touchdown of the game. Matt Jones committed the only Gator fumble of the day when he failed to secure the ball on a run up the middle.
In special teams, Francisco Velez essentially had the day off as he had no field goal attempts this game and converted on all three of his extra point attempts. Punter Kyle Christy, on the other hand, killed it today as he had seven punts for 369 yards! He averaged 52.7 yards per punt!
Now 2-1 (0-1 in SEC play), the Gators will enter a bye week before traveling to Knoxville to play the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) on Saturday, October 4 (the day before my birthday). Hopefully they can get the secondary in order and get Jeff Driskel and the offense back on track before some changes might be called for. Keep in mind that Tennessee has not beaten the Gators in nine years and will fight like Kentucky did last week to prevent this losing streak from reaching 10.
I was on Twitter today and saw many calling for Will Muschamp to be fired after losing a game that many of us expected to lose. Despite the lack of offense and defense, Gator fans need to remember that this is against the #3 team in the country. Alabama nearly played for its fourth National Championship last year and has won three in the last five years.
The fact that the Gators kept the game close until midway in the third on the road against Alabama is a great thing! The scoreboard makes this game look like a blowout when it honestly was pretty tight for a good portion of the game. If Driskel continues to play poorly however, I wouldn't mind if Coach Muschamp started finding ways to get Treon Harris some playing time.
With today's game in the books, Alabama is now 4-0 (1-0 in SEC play) and reminded the entire country just how dominant they can be. They will also be entering a bye week and will prepare to do battle on the road against a very good #10 Ole Miss (3-0) team on Saturday, October 4. In this game, many in the country will find out just how legit the Ole Miss Rebels actually are. It should be a great game!
*All stats accredited to ESPN.com and Gatorzone.com
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