The keys to victory for Alabama in tomorrow’s SEC Championship game against Florida.
Saturday night the 2015 SEC Western Division Champion second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) will do battle with the 2015 SEC Eastern Division Champion eighteenth ranked Florida Gators (10-2) for the 2015 SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide is coming off last week’s victory over rival Auburn while Florida is coming off a loss to their own rival, Florida State. It’s an SEC Championship classic with Alabama vs Florida.
This year’s SEC Championship pits the conference’s top two defenses against each other. Alabama has allowed just 264 total yards per game while Florida has allowed just 283 yards per game. Alabama boasts the number one rush defense and fifth best pass defense in the SEC while Florida has the second best rush defense and the fourth best pass defense. Quarterbacks are also completing less than 50% of their passes against Alabama’s defense, best in the conference, while the Tide defense has also recorded a conference best 15 interceptions and an SEC best 41 sacks. The SEC defense is also the only defense in the SEC to allow less than 100 yards rushing per game, under 80 yards in fact.
Give Henry Some Help
Derrick Henry is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy and the Crimson Tide has jumped on his massive shoulders more than once this year. It is no secret that Alabama’s offense runs through #2 but after 46 carries last week in yet another physical game, the big man needs some help. Someone else has got to step up and make plays to stay some of the pressure, and pounding, off of Henry. At times this year Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart have both made huge plays in the passing game and both will be needed against Florida’s tough as nails defense. OJ Howard could be a massive weapon for the Tide in this game as well though Kiffin and the passing game, for some reason, just doesn’t seem to be able to fully utilize Howard in the passing game. Freshman Damien Harris may need to get a few carries in the game as well to help keep Henry fresh in the game. Harris only got one carry and one catch last week but may see his role increase this week. Regardless of the other things Alabama does in the offense it is without question that Henry will still be utilized and utilized to his fullest, but as the Florida defense stacks the box Coker and the passing game will need to loosen up that defense with some plays through the air.
Take Away Florida Run Game, Rattle Harris
Florida QB Treon Harris has been dynamic at times this season but at other times, especially recently, he has been very inconsistent and downright stagnant. Harris will look to make plays with his legs to keep the Alabama defense honest and the Alabama defense will look to shut down running back Kelvin Taylor to force Harris to try and make plays. Alabama didn’t do anything special, in terms of stacking the box or blitzes, against LSU but Florida’s offensive line is a bit more impressive than LSU and it may require a bit more scheming by the Tide staff than shutting down LSU’s running game. Like the LSU offense it starts with the running game and Alabama will make that its first point to shut down. Then, the Tide will look to put pressure on Harris, with the best pass rush in the SEC, and will look to make the dual threat quarterback make mistakes while trying not to allow him to burn the defense with big plays down the field through the air or with his feet.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Ever since the Iron Bowl ended numerous rumors of coaching defections have surrounded the Crimson Tide with the most notable being that of Kirby Smart potentially leaving to become his alma-mater, Georgia’s, next head coach. Some players have commented on the rumors via social media and rumors like this can certainly become an issue mentally for a team. One of Saban’s biggest goals for this week will be keeping his team focused and keeping the “clutter” out of their heads. A birth in the BCS Playoffs is on the line here the players can’t let outside things, even if it has to do with a popular coach possibly leaving, effect their team goals here. Things will ultimately rest on the shoulders of leaders like Derrick Henry, A’Shawn Robinson, Reggie Ragland, Jake Coker, and Jarran Reed along with Saban to keep the players focused as Florida looks to play spoiler.
Alabama vs Florida at 3:00 PM on CBS.