Harvin questionable; Coaches talk gameplan

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SEC Championship shirt: Alabama vs. Florida

Florida playmaker Percy Harvin is questionable for Saturday’s SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Harvin, the oft injured offensive star, suffered an ankle injury during the Florida State game. Florida head coach Urban Meyer said that Harvin would have a couple of days to recover before he practiced. How Harvin performs during practice later this week will determine his status Saturday.

“He is questionable for this game,” Meyer said. “He is day-to-day and he certainly won’t practice for the next couple of days. He is here today and moving around a little bit, so we will see what happens.”

Even if Harvin can’t play or isn’t full speed, it doesn’t mean the end of Alabama’s game planning headaches.

“They have a lot of good players, we certainly respect his ability, but they really have three players that, you know, 1, 2, 3, it’s easy to remember that. All three are outstanding players have had big play-ability,” Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got some outstanding receivers. They’ve got a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. And they utilize all those players in different roles. Certainly, we respect Percy Harvin as a great player, but they have other great players, too.”

Physical Tide
Alabama’s offensive line is physical. But just how physical? Alabama’s style reminds Meyer mostof LSU than other teams the Gators have faced.

“We think this is the most physical offensive line we have faced maybe in the last two years,” Meyer said.

The physical play adds extra problems with the Gators being a little “banged up” on the defensive line, according to Meyer.

From a gameplan view, Meyer said the Gators likely would need to put an extra man in the box to defend the run. The Gators also could bring some movement up front to prevent linemen from going straight at defensive linemen and using size as an advantage.

Saban acknowledged the challenge Florida’s speedy defensive line could create.

“Florida’s got a really good defensive line, they’re very athletic,” Saban said. “They rush well. They’ve got great athletes in the secondary, so they can play as many eight‑man fronts as they want. It’s going to be a challenge for us to be able to get a hat on a hat. To be able to create the balance that we need to be successful offensively against them.”

Different, but alike
While people may think Alabama and Florida have different styles, it really isn’t the case, Meyer said.

“At the end of the day it is contrasting, but it is very similar,” Meyer said. “We believe in running the football and always have. You hear people say basketball on grass, but you will never hear that about our offense.”

Meyer said he also believes in developing the offensive line so the team can control the line of scrimmage.

One thing Saban promotes in his own Alabama team is balance. He wants to have success via the run and pass to create additional problems for a defense. Florida brings tremendous balance into Atlanta.

“The fact that they have such great balance in their offense skill guys outside who can make plays in the passing game, but also can run the ball effectively, and have a quarterback who can create that balance by his ability to run and almost create kind of a single‑wing type of offense relative to him being a threat to the runner,” Saban said. “As well as when you load the box, you know, be able to make plays in the passing game which creates tremendous balance for them. The way they utilize their personnel, and they have a lot of finesse and lost speed to go with that running game. So that’s a real challenge for anyone to defend.”

Fast starts
Alabama and Florida share another thing in common this season. Getting off to a fast start has been a big element of Alabama’s 13-game winning streak. The Tide has scored first in 12 of the 13 games and has led for 756 of the last 780 minutes. Florida has outscored opponents 160-10 in the first quarter this season. And the Gators have surrendered just three first half touchdowns this season.

“A fast start is going to be a critical part, but it is not the only part,” Meyer said. “There is 60 minutes of football. It is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Saban echoed that 60 minute theme.

“Well, I think the important thing in all games is you play every play in the game for 60 minutes,” Saban said. “You know, we’ve gotten ahead in some games and teams have come back on us. We’ve gotten ahead in some games and been able to maintain that lead. You know, obviously you want to start well in everything that you do. But I think the most important thing is to be able to sustain a certain level of consistency throughout the game in terms of your ability to folk us and play every play. That kind of consistency is, I think, most important.”

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