Florida Gators loom large for Alabama

By Hunter Ford

Alabama players understand the importance of this week’s game against Florida. It’s the conference opener for Crimson Tide.

“If they don’t, they don’t understand Alabama football and playing in the SEC,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Saban said he believed his team improved a little bit in a 52-12 drubbing of Southern Miss, although its best effort came later in the game.

“We definitely played better as the game went on,” he said. “We started out tentatively for some reason.”  Alabama allowed Southern Miss to take a 3-0 lead on the opening possession of the game.  Alabama’s first offensive play was stopped by a penalty.  But Saban said the Tide became more confident and executed better as the game progressed.

The Tide will have to do “a little bit better job of preparing and executing” in the coming weeks, Saban said. He said Florida is a much improved team.  “They are always one of the top teams in our conference,” he said.  “It will be a real challenge for us.”

Florida’s head coach, Will Muschamp, was the defensive coordinator for Nick Saban at LSU. Saban described Muschamp as one of his favorite former assistants.  Saban said Muschamp’s Gators will play a style of defense similar to what Alabama runs, although Saban said Florida will probably play more “even” defenses.

Florida has an explosive wide receiver in Demarcus Robinson. Saban described Robinson as a “complete player” who has good competitiveness, good size and speed, and can run with the ball after the catch.

Robinson was a hero for the Gators last week in an overtime victory over Kentucky. Robinson caught 15 passes for 216 yards and two TDS.  One TD reception came on fourth down in the first overtime period.

New Florida offense coordinator Kurt Roper has brought his system with him from Duke. Saban said he expects Florida to essentially run the Duke offense, which he described as “a very effective system.”

Roper was offensive coordinator for David Cuttcliffe’s Blue Devils last season. Roper also coached for Cuttcliffe at Ole Miss during the Eli Manning era.

Saban said the Gators will have “tremendous balance” on offense. He said Florida has consistently been one of the best defensive teams in the SEC.  The Gators have a dangerous cornerback in Vernon Hargreaves, who Saban describes as a “very instinctive” player who excels at man-to-man coverage, and is a good tackler.

Speaking of his own defensive backs, Saban said they gave up passing plays to Southern Miss that could have been broken up.

“When players are in position to make plays, they need to make plays,” he said. “We need to do a better job, in that regard, of getting the ball out…getting the ball away from people.”

Saban said “missed tackles and mental errors will absolutely kill you,” but said he felt tackling was better last week.   He said it is dangerous to practice complete tackling on a daily basis.

“When you start tackling and taking them all the way to the ground in practice,” he said, it is puts a lot of wear and tear on both offensive and defensive players. He said the Tide defenders have been working on being in the right position to make tackles, and have shown improvement in game play.

The Tide’s Amari Cooper has received the majority of passes thrown this season, and Saban was asked to comment about that. Saban said that his offense has been successful with most of the things it has tried to do so far “and a lot has gone through Amari Cooper.”  Saban noted that Dee White caught six passes against Florida Atlantic and Christion Jones caught four passes last week.

Saban said “Coop” excels at having a quick release off the ball, and at breaking fast on his cuts, making him difficult to defend. He said many receivers only do one of those things really well.

Saban said several running backs have contributed heavily for the Tide, and there are several offensive players with abilities to make plays. He said it will be important to spread the ball around more so the defense “can’t zero in on one guy.”

Alabama has only suffered two quarterback sacks this year. Both times Jake Coker was the quarterback.  Saban said Blake Sims’ elusiveness has been one reason for that. He said Sims has a good feel of when to stay in the pocket, move in the pocket, or pull the ball down and run.

Saban added there has been good offensive line play.  However, Saban said he expects SEC teams to “challenge” the Tide a little more with blitzes.

Dee White will practice this week, but a decision on playing time will be made later in the week.  Safety Jarrick Williams is running drills, but is a “long shot” to play against Florida.

Overall, Saban said the Tide needs to continue practicing with focus.  He said Alabama could not afford to play well one week, and not well another week, and “expect to survive.”

“I don’t think we’ve become the team we can become,” he said. “We just have to keep working at it.”

62 Comments

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  1. 1
    crimson hammah

    SIMS BETTER NOT START…IF SO THE QUICKEST OF HOOKS IS NEEDED ….HIS GAME DOES NOT QUALIFY FOR A TALENTED PRO STYLE QB…

  2. 3
    pete4tide

    @Hammah – Sims play to this point does not support your comment. If anything, Bama takes a step backward whenever Sims isn’t in the game. A lot of the people who continue to call for Coker – or one of the other QBs – are starting to look like they have a whole other agenda in their protests.

  3. 5
    crimson hammah

    wrong – sims at his best can ride a tricycle…yup coker has looked rougher with a lot less time …should have got coker going in the preseason…saban erred thinking coker could have lost to wv much less f or sm

  4. 7
    crimson hammah

    we saw sims f up drives vs wv…bunch of embarrassing fg’s on sims…like all run no pass qb’s they look no one open in their f’d up heads and bring it down and get zip….esp vs the decent teams…good passers throw guys open

    • 9
      Pete4tide

      @Hammah – dude, you’re embarrassing yourself. Put down the pipe and sign out of that computer til you’ve sobered up. And don’t be driving anywhere – you don’t have control.

      • 11
        Crimsonite

        LOL! Agreed. I like the option that Sims style gives us. I think the threat of him or Coker alternating is going really fuk up some of our opponents who have good defenses. And the truth is I’ve always liked Sims. But lets be honest. Sims is limited to doing what he has already done. He has no where else to go. Certainly Coker is not as polished as Sims. Damn, the guy has only been at Bama for 2 months, and Bama does not run a damn 5 play offense like Awbie. Sure Marshall and Newton came in and worked out great in a couple of months, but they are running a dumbass offense And by dumbass I mean 5 basic plays. Hell, a retard could figure that out in 2 months.Coker has a whole other dimension to his abilities. All he needs is experience. To me Saban has made a mistake by not giving him the reps he needs to learn the system. If he had goten every snap during practice and then was given the starting job, by now he would be great. I know why Saban did it. It’s because he doesn’t want his QB to lose the game. So he would rather have a reliable and average than someone flashy who could endanger the game while he’s learning. I know what I’m saying is right. I know because I’ve watched both of them and I know because Saban would never have a two QB system if he had his druthers. What he is doing is using Mr.Reliable while he gets Mr. Flashy ready. If Mr Reliable is enough to get us to the playoff, then he will stick with him. But if he proves to be a liability he will go with Mr Flashy as soon as he’s ready.

        • 12
          nope

          “What (Saban) is doing is using Mr.Reliable while he gets Mr. Flashy ready.”

          Getting Mr. Flashy “ready” means turning Mr. Flashy into Mr. Reliable.

      • 13
        bamatruth

        Bamas offense with Sims in at QB in the redzone is 9/11 touchdowns Coker is 3/8! stats dont lie.. also Sims is over 70% passing while Coker is just a shade over 50%! Wake up dude Sims is the QB….seems you are suffering from a bad case of cranial rectumitis…

  5. 18
    crimson hammah

    agreed mr reliable has not done anything my dead grandma could not have done even in her current state…but against the gators of the world we will probably need a true passing qb

    • 19
      nope

      Really?

      I’m confused. What would make you happy? 120 points? Saban’s never had a QB who throws bombs all day for easy touchdowns. But he’s won 3 titles at Alabama.

      Does your dead grandmother have a better QB rating than Jameis Winston and Trevor Knight?

      Because Blake Sims does.

      I just don’t get it. I understand people letting their emotions get too high early in the season, and no, I don’t think Alabama will necessarily go undefeated this season, but Blake Sims doesn’t just look better than McCarron and McElroy looked at this point, he’s got the stats to prove it.

      If you came out of a time capsule, watched the games in black-and-white, removed the numbers and names from all the jerseys, and nobody told you there was a polarizing 3-star backup QB on the same roster, you’d never dump a guy like Sims. Blake Sims is not the problem, and Jake Coker is not the solution. Both QB’s put Alabama in an incredible position, but Blake Sims is the starter. Know it, enjoy it, just don’t expect Sims to take the bench, including after a conference loss if it comes to that.

      • 20
        crimson hammah

        WHO GIVES A RATS ASS ABOUT SIMS QB RATING VS SOME PUDDINGS…HE SUCKED VS WV…WE HAD TO PUNT WE SETTLED FOR FGS IN A SHOOT OUT …LIKE KANELL SAID WE HAVE A FERRARI FOR OFFENSE BUT SIMS CAN’T HANDLE IT…GIVE ME THE NC I DESERVE WITH COKER

  6. 23
    finebammer

    i challenge anyone to go back to the ’09 season and objectively compare the play of greg mcelroy to what we’ve seen of blake to this point.

    greg was undersized. didn’t have the best long ball. wasn’t the most experienced. Coach Saban won a national title with him in his FIRST year as a starter. greg’s greatest attribute was that he ran the offense without making mistakes.

    that’s all Saban wants. remember? game manager.

    blake will be fine. our problem is in the secondary.

    (and trey depriest hasn’t impressed me either)

  7. 25
    The tide fans are fighting eachother

    ” but they are running a dumbass offense And by dumbass I mean 5 basic plays. Hell, a retard could figure that out in 2 months.”

    Damn shame Kirby Smart and Saban have not figured that out yet and they have had years. If Auburn’s offense is so simple to run, but yet that effective , why would you want to run any other offense? Do you even think that your comments make any sense at all?Oh and I got $5 that says Hammah whoops crimsnonshite’s ass.

  8. 27
    eddie johnson

    Put it like this if Coker was the man or QB yall think he was how Winston at Florida st beat him out in spring and summer practice n win the championship game , now Coker face the same style QB and lose the job in summer practices, I’m a true blue Alabama fan and i love ❤ championships more then a man color and if its Sims over Coker this season well let it b cause Coker is a Jr and that for make him a better player and 2 he can win

      • 29
        eddie johnson

        Let Coker develop , he just a Jr with a lot of great player returning Henry is back next year , white on and on . Y put the man out there and he not ready you can do more harm to him then help.we never had a awesome QB just a bunch of good player that came together as one. If yall love our team stop put them down and ride this shit out go saban

  9. 31
    peachy

    A blind man can see that Sims is playing MUCH better than Coker right now. If Alabama has a chance to win the conference and make the play-offs it will be with Sims.

    • 32
      bamatruth

      agreed! ive said it from day one! if coker couldnt beat out manuel how in the world did he push winston to the last week of fall camp? if he pushed winston so far in fall camp then how in the world has he not seperated himself from sims? bama will be just fine with sims and an added element of defenses finally having to account for the QB at all times when bama has the ball!

      • 33
        nope

        “if coker couldnt beat out manuel how in the world did he push winston to the last week of fall camp?”

        The answer is the same as it is for Alabama; experience. Practices and camps are not the same as managing a live game. It’s more difficult than most people expect, including talented QB’s. Sims has been exceptional at that part so far.

        “if he pushed winston so far in fall camp then how in the world has he not seperated himself from sims?”

        It’s a different format from FSU and Sims has had more experience in it.

        Don’t forget, Jameis Winston would have sat on the bench last season if Saban had let Winston play baseball at Alabama, and this year Winston would be competing with Blake Sims, who has a better QBR than Winston on the season.

        I’m not saying Sims is a better QB than Winston, or that Coker has nowhere to go but up, but Winston is a ball-slinger (which might be his undoing) and Sims isn’t asked to be. It’s starting to make me think no QB can ever really “shine” at Alabama under Saban the way most other schools expect highly-rated QB’s to do, but he may surprise everybody. He won the QB competition handily, now let’s see what else he can do.

    • 34
      Hunter Ford

      Peachy you are the last guy picked for kick ball evry body who is a true Tide fan if you make it to the stqdium brung your A game and be part of the TEAM Sorry SP

  10. 35
    crimson hammah

    YEA RIGHT MC WAS LIMITED BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO SETTLE FOR A MC NOW WE GOT THE COKER LET HIM PLAY LET HIM GET SOME PLAYING TIME SO HE CAN WIN A NC FOR US…SIMS IS A LIABILITY AT BEST ….6 FT 0

  11. 36
    crimson hammah

    BLIND MAN CAN SEE THAT SIMS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO RIDE A TRICYCLE – COKER IS HARLEY SUPER CHARGED RIDER IN TTIIMMEE….

  12. 37
    crimson hammah

    WE KNOW WHAT SIMS CAN DO AGAINST A GREAT DEFENSE HE WILL SUCK BECAUSE HE SUCKED AS ALWAYS AGAINST A GREAT D …HE PLAYED ALABAMA’S D IN THE SPRING GAME WAS TURRIBLE-SO WHAT WE ONLY USED 10% OF PLAY BOOK HE CAN’T DO THE BASICS AGAINST A GOOD D WITH A GOOD RUSH …GOD DID NOT INTEND HIM TO BE A PRO STYLE QB

  13. 38
    crimson hammah

    WE KNOW WHAT SIMS CAN DO AGAINST A GREAT DEFENSE HE WILL SUCK BECAUSE HE SUCKED AS ALWAYS AGAINST A GREAT D …HE PLAYED ALABAMA’S D IN THE SPRING GAME WAS TURRIBLE-SO WHAT WE ONLY USED 10% OF PLAY BOOK HE CAN’T DO THE BASICS AGAINST A GOOD D WITH A GOOD RUSH …GOD DID NOT INTEND HIM TO BE A PRO STYLE QB

  14. 39
    crimson hammah

    LOOK AT AJ AND HOW HE BROUGHT US BACK VS AM …COKER CAN DO IT VERTICAL PASSING GAME ….KANELL RIGHT SIMS HAS NO VERTICAL PASSING GAME VS GREAT D

  15. 41
    crimson hammah

    OH YES I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE WINSTON AS QB IF HE WASN’T RAPIST …HE CAN PASS THE BALL AND RUN…SIMS CANNOT PASS

    • 42
      nope

      @crimson hammah

      I’m going to assume you’re serious about everything you’ve said.

      I think it’s time you switched to being a fan of Oregon or Baylor or Texas A&M or Oklahoma State or any other high-tempo, high-scoring football team with a lack of defensive idendity. Alabama is not for you. Fundamentals aren’t as important or as enjoyable to many college football fans these days, and that’s ok, you’re certainly not alone, but that’s Alabama football.

      Yes, AJ shined…in his third season.

      And if/when Alabama loses a football game or two this season, you’ll probably blame Sims alone, and that’s not ok. I could say Coker, at this point at least, creates more risk and takes less advantages of necessary opportunities, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is we don’t get to pick. We don’t get to pick our coaches, and we don’t get to pick the players. We are, however, lucky to have the best coach in the league to make those decisions on behalf of the University of Alabama.

      That choice is Sims. Deal with it.

      Sims is going to throw an interception. Every single QB does. Deal with it.

      Alabama’s football identity isn’t scoring 100 points and running 8,000 offensive plays per game. It’s defense, and the defense hasn’t exactly been bulletproof in 2014. Concern yourself with that instead because Alabama is never going to be Oregon or TAMU.

  16. 43
    crimson hammah

    DO NOT BE DECEIVED 7-3 END OF FIRST VS USM WITH SIMS AT HELM…..AND NOTHING MUCH EARLY VS WV B/C OF SIMS LACKING PASS TALENT

  17. 50
    peachy

    Lets look at the stats:

    Sims: 48/64 75% completion rate, 10.1 ypa, 4TDs, 1INT and 177.29 QBR

    Coker: 20/31, 64.5% completion rate, 8.0 ypa, 1TD, 0INT and 142.37 QBR

    Sims is 3rd in the nation in completion percentage. And he’s only .5 away from #1. Alabama doesnt need a QB that can throw deep balls if they can hit 75%. The talent at WR should take over and gain the yards.

  18. 55
    crimson hammah

    ALABAMA FOOTBALL IS RUN RUN RUN BOMB FOR 100 YRS…AJ TO COOPER VS GA IN SEC CH GAME IS ONE OF 100 BAMA BOMBS…ALABAMA FOOTBALL IS EXCELLENCE …SIMS IS LIMITED

  19. 57
    Indiana Vol

    Too bad the Gayturds dont have a chance of winning this game! I would love to see them give Inbred U a dose of reality and it’s fans a punch in the face. You morons are braging about playing three high school teams so far. I cant wait to watch Bammer implode and come crumbling down!!

  20. 59
    bamminer

    Maybe Alabama can have a Doug Williams moment. But, if that Oline is cranking, then it doesn’t take much for Sims to be an advanced version of McElroy. Of course, they won a champ with him at QB. Still, Sims might be more of a John Parker Wilson with even more running ability. Wilson had one problem–was inaccurate with deep passing. McElroy was an improvement in that he was good to very good at all levels of passing–if he had time and receivers could get open. McCarron was great at all levels of the field and was clutch–if he had time and receivers were only semi-open. The thing is that Alabama was number 1 with Wilson as a senior and leading the Tebow lead Gators’ until late. Sims could be an advanced form of Wilson–if not McElroy. That might put his ceiling in one season to be higher overall than McCarron’s(all things considered). He could run and likely will be allowed to run, when others were average runners at best and had to pick their spots. Sims–along with likely being as good as Wilson or McElroy–will probably be given the green light to run as well. Can you imagine what that means for Alabama–if the Oline is cranked? I do; your possible Doug Williams moment. My opinion.

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