A Half-assed Liveblog of the SEC Title Game (sleeping sons permitting)
Bama was too conservative on its first series. Two runs between the tackles for three yards apiece, followed by a short pass that doesn't get a first down. Bama is playing a feeling out round, but they can't be giving up possessions against this Florida offense.
And Florida promptly makes Bama pay with a great drive to take the lead. Urban smartly goes to the no-huddle because he knows he has better depth than Alabama does. Bama's defensive strategy so far has been to bring blitzers up late to confuse Florida, but it wasn't working. Tebow's throw for the touchdown was excellent, an NFL improvisation to throw outside to a guy in the end zone with a defender in man coverage. Initiative to Florida.
And Alabama promptly takes it back. Shock of shocks, they throw the ball on first down, Julio Jones is open, and he rambles inside the Florida 20. Charlie Strong has to shade his defense to account for Jones. Julio reminds me more and more of David Boston in terms of being a really big guy with excellent speed. Bama then takes the momentum and scores on the next play. Glen Coffee had an acre of space on the right side. Uh oh, Gator front seven.
If I were Charlie Strong, I would assume that Alabama are going to break all of their tendencies in this game.
Does Florida have much experience punting the ball? They're excellent on special teams, but this could be a soft spot.
Bama is much stronger when they throw the ball on first down.
Two straight three-and-outs for Florida's offense. Bama is stopping the Florida running game on the early downs and Meyer's offense plays off of the running game. The two-man rush on third down was reminiscent of Mickey Andrews' oft-successful strategy against Steve Spurrier.
I'm not buying what Danielson is selling that this is the 2007 Florida offense because of Harvin's injury. The 2007 Florida offense was all Tebow and Harvey because the Gators didn't have a functional tailback and had to replace that position with a quarterback and a slot receiver. This year, Florida has two tailbacks. I don't see the offense being that different, other than the fact that it's a little less effective.
Florida has looked labored in the red zone so far in the game. They don't have the ability to push Bama's front seven off the ball.
I'll be honest here. I just spent the last 20 minutes watching my alma mater's rebirth in hoops. I talked about this Alabama-Florida game for weeks and then got caught up in remembering what it's like for Michigan-Duke to mean something. I came back in time to see Tebow throw a touchdown to take the lead.
Why in the world did Urban Meyer not take a timeout after Florida stopped Alabama with a minute and change left in the second quarter? It's not like Meyer to lack aggression.
Halftime note: I had Fox Brothers BBQ for the first time for lunch. Holy hell was it good. I'm a conisseur of half chickens at local BBQ restaurants and this one was especially good because it was done like Memphis ribs with smoke and a rub as opposed to heavy sauce.
Alabama has figured out that throwing on first down is their best chance to move the ball. Conversely, I love the draw play to Glen Coffee on third and five. Running on passing downs is a nice idea.
Bama ties the game on a monstrous 15-play drive. That was absolutely critical for three reasons. First, the Tide will have Florida worried about the pass and the run the rest of the game because of the balance they've been able to maintain. Second, Bama's offensive line is asserting itself against the Florida front. Third, Bama just shortened the game and minimized Florida's depth advantage by reducing the number of aggregate plays and drives.
"The whole offense is #15." Florida immediately then gets four yards up the middle from Jeff Demps. Good timing, Danielson. Maybe now's a good time for another rant about how the spread doesn't work.
Tebow misses a big third down throw on an open slant and then the Gators miss a field goal. We have a 19-minute game for the SEC Title. Eat your heart out, Big XII.
Alabama's offense is composed of three good plays: runs out of the one-back, two-tight end formation, play-action throws off of the one-back runs, and square-ins to Julio Jones. Unless I missed it when I was watching basketball, Alabama's passing game has all gone to the tight ends and Jones. Hell, if it's working, why do anything different?
Florida retakes the lead. The drive gave me two thoughts. First, on their biggest drive of the season, Florida put the ball in the hands of their tailbacks time and again, including an Emmanuel Moody sighting. 2007 offense, my ass. Second, I'm trying to figure out what Saban is doing against the Florida offense and one conclusion is that he isn't taking too many risks. He's forcing Florida to beat him in five-yard in five-yard increments. Alternatively, Bama might be forcing Florida to be patient because they're good tacklers and they're used to playing a high-pressure defensive style.
Wow, Alabama's offensive line has been their strength all year and they got pwned on a tackle-end stunt on third and long. Florida now has the ball with a four-point lead. This is great.
Tebow throws a very nice deep ball and he's showing the whole country that skill. He's been accurate deep time and again. He has all the throws to play in the NFL. The only question is his ability to take snaps under center and read a defense while dropping back. And now he finished the drive with a perfect throw on a slant, bailing his coach out from having to answer some uncomfortable questions about drawing a key penalty. Could Tebow be a good quarterback in the Bill Walsh West Coast Offense? That slant is the key pass in the offense (and people forget that Joe Montana was a good runner early in his career, although he wasn't exactly running over people).
Der Wife weighs in: "Riley Cooper looks like a Riley Cooper."
I love Andre Smith, but he needs to work on his endurance, his ability to handle a speed rush, or both. Florida's depth ended up paying off despite that third quarter in which Alabama shortened the game. When these teams meet again in two years, they'll be fighting on more even terms.
And reminding us that they're from the Sunshine State, Florida finished off the game with a personal foul on Brandon Spikes and then Jim Tartt kicking an Alabama player.