For only the third time this season, Alabama will enter a game as a favorite with under three touchdowns.
This SEC title game against Florida will pit the 10-0 Crimson Tide against an 8-2 Gators side who have a contender for Heisman at quarterback (Kyle Trask), two of the top playmakers in the game. country (tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Kadarius Toney) and an offense that’s No. 2 in the SEC in scoring.
But does Florida really have a chance to beat the tide? Will the game even be competitive?
To get a better idea, AL.com spoke with SEC coaches and team officials. Here are their thoughts on the game to go along with some other interesting nuggets before the game.
There’s not a lot of confidence in Florida from an SEC coaching perspective, particularly after the Gators’ 37-34 home loss to 3-5 LSU on Saturday.
It was the fourth time this year that the Florida defense has surrendered at least 35 points. Now the Gators are set to face an attack from Alabama who is ranked No.1 among the Power Five teams in scores.
The Tide beat their top 10 opponents by an average margin of 50-17 and beat the two teams that won over Florida – Texas A&M and LSU – by a combined total of 107-41.
“Bama by 21,” said an SEC coordinator.
“I think Bama will beat the s—- on them,” said an offensive SEC coach.
“I don’t think it’s really close,” said a senior SEC team official.
“Bama will beat them by 20 or more, easy,” said an NFL scout. “The Florida offensive line is real, the real average, and the defensive line isn’t much better. The databases are just OK. LSU scored 37 on them. Bama will easily be in his forties. “
“Alabama will kill Florida,” said an SEC defensive coach. ” No question. End of the conversation. “
Of the coaches and team officials who spoke with AL.com, only a few believed the game could even be competitive.
“Florida’s loss maybe helped in a way,” said an SEC defensive coach. “They humbled themselves. Know that they have a lot to work on. Should have a very competitive and motivated squad this week in their preparation for Bama.
“I think the game is closer than people think,” said another SEC defensive coach. “Florida comes out angry and motivated. Pitts didn’t play (against LSU) which was huge. I don’t think they’re ready to play either. They were sleepwalking for the first half. They are good. LSU played well considering everyone who was absent. Plus, this LSU offense is different with kid Max Johnson at QB. He is and will be really good.
Florida passing game versus improving Alabama defense
It will be Trask, who ranks No.1 nationally in passing yards and passing touchdowns, against an Alabama defense led by Pete Golding who allowed just an 8.8 average. points in six games since giving up a total of 72 points against Ole Miss and Georgia. .
“Don’t think Florida has any advantage in defense against Bama’s offense, but find a way to pass the ball to Pitts, Toney and Grimes,” an SEC defensive coach said. “Even shorter. Perhaps the best group of wide receivers Bama has faced. Saban will try to take Pitts away. They will probably double it. Can try to overtake him and Toney. Grimes must win his face-to-face. Plus, like they did against the UGA, take on the full-backs against Bama linebackers for pass coverage.
“They’ve spread it and make you defend every inch,” another SEC defensive coach said. “Mullen is a very good coach. He got too cute on Saturday (against LSU). “
Another SEC assistant coach, however, threw a joke when asked about the Florida offense.
“You mean # 1 (Toney) and # 84 (Pitts)? ” he has answered. “Good players. Not good enough yet.
This trainer also doesn’t appear to be as high on Trask as the others around the conference.
“Take risks,” he says. “Will throw spikes.”
Alabama offensive line vs. Florida forward seven
Many SEC head coaches have referenced Alabama’s offensive line as one of the best they’ve ever seen. It will create a tough game for the Gators’ top seven. While Florida are No. 1 in the SEC in sacks (3.1 per game), the Gators are ranked No. 45 nationally and No. 6 in the SEC in run defense.
“The Florida offensive line and the Florida defense line will be destroyed by Alabama,” the NFL scout said.
“Florida linebackers are probably their biggest weakness,” said an SEC team official. “(Cornerback) Kaiir Elam, (cornerback) Marco Wilson and (defensive end) Brenton Cox are the guys we thought were the best. Everyone is pretty average. “
“Not very good in the top seven,” an SEC offensive coach said of Florida. “Athletic in the back, though. Securities are good players.
Alabama Receivers vs. Florida High School
An SEC defensive assistant coach summed it up this way with the Alabama offense: “You have to get them third and long and force Jones to throw him to someone other than 6 (DeVonta Smith), 8 (John Metchie) and 22 (Najee Harris).
It’s easier said than done.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida scored on them and moved the ball,” said an offensive SEC coach. “They are pretty good on offense. But Bama is so good on offense it’s like watching a video game.
Three of the best Heisman Trophy contenders will play in this match: Smith, Jones and Trask.
As media figures continue to focus more on quarterbacks as Heisman’s favorites, coaches around the conference have a different perspective.
AL.com asked 18 SEC coaches and team officials: If you were to vote on Heisman today, who would you vote for?
Of the 18, 15 voted for Smith.
Two of the other votes went to Trask. One went to Jones.
“If anyone can actually watch this kid play in person and really believe there is a better player than him in the country, he’s the dumbest person there is,” said an offensive SEC coach . “He can do anything. Effortlessly. “
“Put simply, the best player in the country on the best team in the country,” said an SEC defensive coach. “He’s been dominated since losing the country’s most explosive player, Waddle. And he’s valuable in special teams with a 10-0 record.
“Hands down, possibly the most explosive and dynamic football player in college football right now,” said another SEC defensive coach. “He’s part of the nation’s number one ranked team, which is fully equipped with other weapons. Yet he always finds ways to wow us every weekend. The guy is subject to a home call every time he touches the ball.
“If they hadn’t lost, I would have said Trask,” added another coach.
– Jones not only put himself in a position to potentially win the Heisman, but also continued to establish himself as a possible choice in the first round draft. “I would say he’s a first parent compared to others who have been drafted recently,” said one scout.
– Harris is now in that first-round conversation as well, having improved his stock after receiving mostly third-round type ratings out of last season. The senior leads the nation with 22 rushing touchdowns. “Najee has played in an inspired way this year,” said one scout. “Late 1. No later than 2.”
– Cornerback Josh Jobe will be one of Tide’s subclasses with a decision to be made at the end of the season. The feeling seems to be that he wouldn’t be any worse than a top pick in the Day 3 draft if he turned pro. “Jobe is expected to stay another year, but he’s played better this year,” said one scout. “A work in progress. He’s probably a fourth right now. Could go up. ”
– Draft returns weren’t as good on Crimson Tide inside linebacker Dylan Moses. Prior to sustaining a knee injury in the summer of 2019, Moses was considered a potential pick in the 2020 first-round draft and would have had a good chance of making the first two rounds of this year’s draft, even after missing out on everything. last season. Nonetheless, the current belief in the world of scouting is that it could end up falling on day three of the draft. “He’s a third at best,” said one scout. “Maybe more fourth or fifth. “
– Pitts, Trask, Toney, Grimes and Cox are Florida’s top prospects, according to scouts. While Trask started the year with mostly late scores, current predictions are more in the second to fourth round range. “Big pocket passer with a strong, precise arm when he can stand and throw from his platform,” said one scout. “Not great outside of the schedule or when we have to move. Toney, Grimes and the tight side make him better than he actually is. Bit steep and mechanical as an athlete. Not explosive in his lower body. Play the diagram well. Not so good outside of the script. Along with Pitts and Trask, those other three – Toney, Grimes and Cox – are also considered the top three or four on the round.
Matt Zenitz is a senior SEC football reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @mzenitz.