Alabama Flexes Its Muscles

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alabama dominated the Florida Gators on Saturday night in a 31-6 lashing at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

It was a total team effort from Alabama and they further solidified their spot as the top team in the country. I’m not sure anyone expected to see Alabama winning 24-3 at halftime. I certainly didn’t.

The game took a huge momentum swing when Nico Johnson intercepted a jump pass from Tim Tebow Trey Burton on the Gators first offensive drive.Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Nick Saban know Urban’s tricks. They were telling their defensive players before the play even happened to watch out for the jump pass. Seriously, what was  Meyer thinking? It was 4th down. Take the points. He admitted the mistake at halftime, but it was too late by then. The Tide were miles ahead of the Gators at that point.

Instead of the game being 7-3 Florida, or even 3-3, Alabama marched down the field and took a 10-0 lead. Things quickly unraveled for the Gators after that. Kirby Smart and Nick Saban made some nice adjustments after Florida’s first drive and stonewalled the Gators offense for the rest of the half.

Alabama’s offense set the tone early with long, methodical drives. Offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, anticipated the Gators aggressive rush off the edges and took advantage of it with several screen plays.

Greg McElroy didn’t light up the stats column, but he didn’t make any mistakes. He made several big runs for first downs to keep drives moving along. It felt like he did so much more on the field, though. Mark Ingram had a modest night, but did score two touchdowns. Trent Richardson led the team in rushing with 63 yards.

Quarterback Greg McElroy of the Alabama Crimson Tide signals a first down after he scrambled upfield against the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Florida had their chances to get back into the game, but they blew it with poor decision-making. The Crimson Tide’s defense was on its game, too. Alabama was blowing Florida off the ball all night. That was the best game the defensive line has played all year.

The Tide’s offense was well on its way to a nice game, but the playcalling was very timid and conservative in the second half. Alabama didn’t need to score any more points, though. Freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley effectively put the game away with a 35 yard interception return for a touchdown around the 6 minute mark in the 3rd quarter to put the Tide up 31-6.

Florida couldn’t do anything. The running game had very little success all game long and the passing game picked up only in the second half. Alabama looked out of whack trying to defend the pass, but Florida’s mistakes prevented them from scoring a single touchdown still.

The Gators would fumble a handoff exchange on the one yard line which resulted in a change of possession. It was the second Florida turnover of the night on the one yard line.

It was a dominating performance for Alabama. They certainly let off the accelerator in the second half, but why should you show all your cards when you don’t need to? It’s very possible that these two teams will face each other again in the SEC Championship so it’s good to keep your best hands on reserve. Alabama ran the ball 14 times compared to throwing it five times in the 2nd half.

Dre Kirkpatrick #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass intended for Trey Burton #8 of the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There was no question about who was the better team Saturday night. Alabama avoided the mistakes. Florida did not. The Gators started out the 2nd half well and did a good job of keeping the Alabama offense off the field, but they failed to score. The Gators ran as many plays as Alabama did in the 1st half (34 for 205 yards) and held the ball for 18:30 in the 2nd half. Alabama ran a mere five offensive plays in the 3rd quarter.

Perhaps Meyer will turn to a more pass oriented attack for Brantley because the read option attack was laughable against the Tide’s defense. The defensive front was disrupting the Gators at the line of scrimmage all night long. I don’t know if Saban and Smart were reserving some of their best blitz packages for the Gators or if they just found an exploit on the Gators offensive line, but Florida’s offensive line got embarrassed.

Urban Meyer seems intent on getting John Brantley to run an offense that Tebow ran so well. Brantley is not the same kind of quarterback — and neither is Trey Burton. This team still doesn’t have an identity. You could tell that much on the field Saturday.

The 31-6 loss was the first time Florida had not scored a touchdown in a game since 2005. It was Urban Meyer’s first year as head coach and the Gators lost 31-3 to Mike Shula and the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

I do think that everyone needs to stop saying that Alabama is a lock for the national title game in Glendale, AZ. Come on. They still have to play the games. Every SEC opponent Alabama faces from here on out will be coming off a bye week. That will make things tougher for the Tide and they will have to make sure they stay focused and on top of their game against opponents like Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. You can’t overlook a single opponent in this league.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. You can e-mail me suggestions or questions at Follow me on Twitter @JoeSportswriter.


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