Alabama Football: Grit against Gators in Gainesville

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Whew. That one was ugly. It feels more like a Gator loss than a Tide victory. Games like these are rough as an Alabama Football fan. We get spoiled into blowouts against highly-ranked teams… We don’t know what to do with ourselves when our beloved team hits a speed bump.

2021 Alabama Football team finds their identity in gritty win in Gainesville

This isn’t the 2020 team with veterans everywhere. The offense isn’t quite as automatic as it has been the last few seasons. The three consecutive three-and-outs in the second quarter against Florida was the first time that has happened since 2017.

That isn’t a hit on Bryce Young. Let me tell you… Bryce Young is special. Yes, there are times when he needs to trust his legs more than his arm (he missed a walk in touchdown late in the game). Despite this, Young is making reads like a veteran. His decision making will come with time, as will his deep ball accuracy. Remember, he is still only a sophomore.

The rest of the offense is the difference. From the offensive line to the receivers to the running backs. The talent is there, but not at the level that existed last season, and certainly not with the experience. The Tide lost three Heisman finalists on offense. Those aren’t shoes that are easily filled.

Yet, the Alabama Football team marched into the Swamp and gave one of the grittiest performances I’ve ever seen. The Gators stormed back from an 18-point deficit. The Tide couldn’t find anything to work in the second quarter. They mustered only three yards.

But they figured it out. They made it work coming out of the half. It wasn’t the explosiveness we’re used to, but it was enough. It was slow and methodical (beneficial in keeping the Florida offense on the sideline). It was two and three yards at the time, a few timely Gator penalties, and some impressive third-down conversions.

Bryce Young marched the offense down the field, converting third down after third down in the loudest environment anyone on the team had experienced in two years, some maybe ever.

Not only is nearly the entire offensive line first-year starters, they experienced noise tonight like they may never have before.

This is to be expected when the number one team in the country visits the Swamp for the first time in almost 20 years, the Gators have a chance to win, and fans have been without the beauty of a full college football stadium in two years.

I’m sure it was rocking.

It was impossible to hear a clap, and a new offensive line unit isn’t going to be on the same page all the time on a silent count. False starts and delay of games are expected in this environment.

As for the defense… I’m not sure what went wrong with that. The Alabama Football defense is a veteran unit but couldn’t get off their heels in the second half. After a shaky start, Emory Jones had the game of his life. After a strong start defensively for the Tide, Dan Mullen’s offense was able to pick the Tide apart play after play. Mullen has done this before; he is an offensive genius.

The Gators outgained the Tide in nearly every stat line… total yards, first downs, time of possession.. everything except points.

I know it feels like a loss. I know we’re already uneasy at the thought of having to play Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and possibly Georgia or Florida again.

Thankfully, we get Lane Kiffin at home this year. When the Tide travels to College Station though, they’ll hear from 12,000 more fans than they did today. At least Young and the offensive line will have one under their belts by then.

Take a deep breath, Bama fans. It’s early. It’s week three, and tonight, the Alabama Football team found their identity. They walked into the Swamp, faced a deafening crowd, and edged out the win against a strong Gator team.

McElroy is right. Saban will take this win and use it as a turning point for the rest of the season. It’s important to face adversity early in the season. You need to know your team has what it takes to overcome adversity.

This Alabama Football team proved that tonight. It wasn’t pretty, but they did just enough when it mattered to get the job done.

This isn’t the 2020 team. The defense is a little better which allows the offense to have a little more patience in scoring drives. Leaving the Swamp against a top 15 team with a win is a big deal, regardless of how it happens.

Next. Patience needed as Tide matures. dark

This team is young, but they found their identity tonight with the grit they showed in Gainesville. The title is still in sight.