Dante Fowler Jr. knows the Florida has it against Alabama Saturday night. The chance to take down the third-ranked team in the nation is a large task, made even larger by his opponent Cam Robinson, a 6-6, 323-pound left tackle.
A freshman left tackle, that is.
“Yeah, I feel like me being a junior, being a vet in the game, already played in the SEC and this is actually his first SEC game, I can be a pretty good look for him,” Fowler Jr. said.
The junior defensive end and the rest of the Florida defense will look to stop an Alabama offense that has accumulated 1705 yards of total offense, ranking 8th nationally. The Crimson Tide are also tied for 6th in the nation in first downs and 10th in third down completion percentage. Despite the inexperience on the left side, the physicality of Alabama’s offensive line will be something Florida knows they’ll have to match.
Similar to last weekend, the Gators are dealing with another quarterback who has the ability to run in Blake Sims. This season Sims has gained 102 yards on 14 attempts with two touchdowns. His longest run was a 21-yard scamper against West Virginia, converting on third down. The added dimension may affect Florida’s pass rush as Fowler Jr. said game plan against Kentucky was to keep the quarterback from running.
“I think the pass rush was good, you know,” he said. “Going into the game you don’t just have, you just can’t do whatever pass rush move you have. We scheme around teams and those schemes we have jobs to do. We got to stick by those jobs and our job was to contain the quarterback.”
Making things difficult for Sims will in turn help out Florida’s secondary, specifically Vernon Hargreaves III in his widely-anticipated contest against wide receiver Amari Cooper. The defensive lineman is looking forward to the two preseason All-Americans go at it.
“That’s a very good take because I knew Amari Cooper in the Under Armour game and I saw him in practice and he’s a great receiver,” he said. “And being able to see Vernon, see how good he is, that’s going to be a good matchup. I can’t wait to see that.”
An already big game for Florida is magnified with it being the first game on the road this season. Fowler Jr.’s first trip was to Texas A&M two seasons ago. As he waited to go into the game during a TV timeout, he looked around, taking in the sights of Kyle Field. The different environment can have an effect on a player’s composure, especially if it is their first time out of state or on a plane. To combat that happening on the team’s trip to Bryant-Denny stadium, Fowler, Jr. said communication will be key.
“Just stay together as a team and keep focused,” he said. “That’s all you can do. We know how to talk to each other, so I just talk to them how I talk to them.”
The Gators have it against a talented Crimson Tide team. What they do with it remains to be seen.