Alabama Football regular season preview: Florida Gators

Najee Harris (22) jumps over Florida Gators defensive back Kaiir Elam - Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Najee Harris (22) jumps over Florida Gators defensive back Kaiir Elam - Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football will have a scorcher in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 18. The afternoon game will be so hot, the stadium will deserve its nickname. The two football teams will both very different from when they last met in the 2020 SEC Championship game.

The Florida Gators are down 11 starters from last season. Though the player losses are on both sides of the ball, the offense lost the most talent. With exits from the two Kyles (Trask and Pitts), plus Kadarius Toney, Dan Mullen lost almost 4,500 yards of 2020 offense. His top running backs return, with the addition of Clemson transfer, DeMarkus Bowman. Mullen also lost his two most experienced offensive linemen. His new line must adjust from a pocket quarterback to a mobile one and the position group is not expected to be one of the SEC’s best.

As good as Florida was offensively last season, the defense could not carry its load. Todd Grantham was once a respected defensive coordinator, but last season changed that narrative. The Gators must be much better defensively in 2021.

Grantham, who has never been a wallflower, has touted his 2021 defense.

"We’re going to be good. We’ve got really good players and we are deeper. We’re going to be hard to run on"

Grantham has some reason for optimism. On the defensive line, the Gators’ stoutest defender, Zachary Carter returns. Grantham can also rely on linebacker, Ventrell Miller. Edge rusher, Brenton Cox will be one of the SEC’s best. Grantham also added good defensive line personnel that can provide needed depth. The secondary will be a question mark. Cornerback Kaiir Elam is good, but will need help from Trey Dean and three probable freshmen, starting defensive backs.

Grantham has always liked to press the action. With Carter, Miller and Cox, he might cause enough consistent quarterback pressure for the secondary to develop.

Dan Mullen needs a solid receiving core to be better than average quickly. How good new starting QB, Emory Jones can be will be the product of how well his receivers and offensive line produce. Jones is a more than adequate replacement for Kyle Trask but he can’t carry the offense by himself.

Alabama Football vs. Florida Gators Position Groups

  • Quarterback – Plenty of unknown here but, Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Running BackAdvantage Crimson Tide
  • Receivers and Tight EndsBig Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Offensive Line – Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Defensive Line – Slight Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Linebackers – Huge Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Secondary – Big Advantage Crimson Tide
  • Special Teams – Advantage Crimson Tide

The Gators will cruise through opening games with Florida Atlantic and South Florida. On a brutally hot afternoon in central Florida, the game might not play out as the talent gap indicates. A rebuilding Alabama Football offensive line could still be sluggish, allowing considerable pressure on Bryce Young. With mistakes and turnovers by the Tide, an upset could occur – but there is a better chance the Tide defense overwhelms the Gators’ offense and Alabama wins easily.

Next. For title contenders defense still matters. dark

Every year college football pundits heap praise on Dan Mullen. I ask if he is so good, how come his zero-for-Saban streak keeps growing.