The Florida Gators once again came the closest to doing something nobody’s done 21 months: beat Alabama. However, much can be taken from the 31-29 loss to the Tide. Let’s look at how they stacked up against Saban’s bunch for the second time in nine months.
A tale of two halves for Florida. It could absolutely move the ball but just couldn’t finish the drives as the Gators went into halftime with nine points on 215 yards. The second half? They outscored Alabama 20-10 on 249 yards of offense including a 99-yard touchdown drive. Emory Jones started shaky but he ended up managing the offense well. It wasn’t a great game from him but he didn’t need to do much as a passer thanks to the offensive line providing him and the backs with plenty of running room. Florida outgained the Tide 244 to 91 on the ground. That probably gave Saban a conniption. This is just like what I said after the 2020 SEC title game, Dan Mullen can scheme and run an offense capabale of playing with anyone in the country.
Good and bad from this unit as well. The Gator defense allowed Bama to go 7-for-13 on third downs plus a few penalties that extended drives as well, although some were ticky tack. Not to mention slips/missed tackles in the open field leading to first downs or touchdowns. But the defense made it look easy for Alabama in that first quarter. It allowed 172 yards and spotted UA 21 points in that first 15 minutes. The next 45? Ten points and 152 yards allowed. However defensive front pressured Bryce Young on several occasions. The man just seems unflappable. Jeremiah Moon seems to have found a home at linebacker. He’s flying around an affecting plays on a weekly basis. Though they had some problems, those seem fixable. It’s just a matter of them actually getting fixed.
Special teams: C
Again not much for the special teams but this still made some critical errors. One them factoring in to be the difference in the game. Ja’Markis Weston made two mistakes on kick return: failing to take a kick out and then he missed the catch on another that bounced out of bounds and put Florida’s offense on its own one. The Gators actually only gained 15 yards on two returns. Then of course there’s the missed PAT by Chris Howard that if made would’ve left the Gators just an extra point away from tying the game on its final touchdown drive. Punter Jeremy Crawshaw had another 50-yard punt and one inside the 20 plus Christmann had four touchbacks on kickoff duties.
Yet another close game between these two teams. Florida’s actually come the closest to do beating Alabama in their last two tries than anyone. But, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades as they say. Mullen’s pulled out big wins at home against West opponents. But when teams are elite, he hasn’t won many. Eventually Florida has to pull these out a little more often. However, this ballgame showed a lot of encouraging signs for this team going forward.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the crowd. It stayed the whole game and upped its volume at every single juncture.