The Florida Gators will host SEC west division foe Alabama on Saturday night in the Swamp. This will undoubtedly be the toughest challenge to date for Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and Florida’s new pro-style offensive scheme.
The Gators passed their first two SEC tests, gaining 347 yards of offense against Tennessee and 520 yards against Kentucky including a ridiculous 405 rushing yards.
This is Alabama though, a more athletic and much more physical team than anything Florida has seen this year. Alabama comes in to the game ranked as the No. 1 ranked defense in the SEC.
Weis said by looking at Alabama’s defense on film, there are no obvious weaknesses in personnel.
“I always look for weak links in personnel, so that people that you could attack,” Weis said. “This is an unusual group because they really don’t have one. They are solid across the front, they are solid at linebacker, and they’re solid at secondary and then throw on top of the fact they are very well coached and they are not a grab bag operation. I think you have your work cut out for you.”
Weis said the Gators will have to play smart against Alabama’s top ranked defense, but don’t expect Weis to hold anything back on Saturday.
“I think that you have to play sound, fundamental football and you have to go ahead and throw the kitchen sink at them now,” Weis said. “They’re going to get the kitchen sink. You guys have been writing about holding things back, well you won’t have to worry about that this week. They’re going to get plenty.”
The Gators’ offense turned the ball over three times against Kentucky this past Saturday, Weis said Florida will have to play a mistake free game against Alabama.
“Sometimes when you’re playing football you have to realize that punting isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Weis said. “Look, we want to score a touchdown every time we get the ball, but what you have to do is you have to make sure you make good decisions in the game where you don’t make that critical mistake that we were talking about before and all the sudden give one to them.”
The Florida offense leads the SEC in rushing at 259 yards per game, and the Gators have given up the least amount of sacks in the SEC only yielding two on the year. Weis said his unit has been able establish its offensive identity.
“I’d like to think that we’ve established somewhat of an identity of being fairly physical up front,” Weis said. “I mean, you don’t run the ball that efficiently, you don’t protect a quarterback that well without being physical. On top of everything else, I think our receivers have done a wonderful job of being physical down the field, of making some of those runs be longer runs.”
With Florida being the No. 1 offensive team in the SEC and Alabama being the No. 1 defensive team in the SEC, something will have to give. Weis said the Gators will be ready to play come kickoff time.
“I think we will show up Saturday,” Weis said. “I think that we have a lot of confidence in our own ability and we realize that this will be quite the challenge. We have a lot of respect for both Alabama’s defense and their coaching staff. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves too.”
One thing is for sure, you can expect two physical teams fight for SEC supremacy on Saturday.
“I think that you’ve got to go toe-to-toe,” Weis said. “They’re good, but you’ve got to be ready for a slugfest. You’ve got to be ready to go toe-to-toe.”
Gator Country football and recruiting analyst Derek Tyson can be reached at Derek@GatorCountry.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at DerekTysonGC.