Four Quarters: Alabama vs. Florida

Alabama has continued to improve on the way to a 4-0 start out of the gate.  Next, the team must prepare for a showdown with the No. 12 Florida Gators, in ‘The Swamp’.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is no easy place to play.  The venue has a reputation for loud and rowdy fans.

On top of that, Florida (4-0) will be looking for retribution after a 31-7 loss to the Tide last season.

In his first year, new coach Will Muschamp has quickly transformed the Gators into a team that plays similarly to Alabama.  Because of Florida’s prowess on the ground on both sides of the ball, Alabama will be playing a near mirror image of itself.

Here’s what to watch for during Alabama’s game against the Florida Gators.

Will Muschamp is no stranger to Alabama’s aggressive playing style.  He was an assistant coach under Nick Saban at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins.

Look for Muschamp to run similar plays and packages as those used by Coach Saban.  This includes a relentless rushing attack led by Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

Because of the pro-style offense utilized by Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, the Gators will have more blocking tight ends on the field and more overall balance compared to what Alabama saw last year against Urban Meyer’s spread formations.

The two running backs have combined for 731 yards and six touchdowns.  As a team, the Gators rank ninth in the nation in rushing yards per game.  These extravagant numbers make Florida potentially the toughest test on the ground for Alabama this season.

Also, expect Florida you utilize screens in the passing game.  Meyer used them effectively in his tenure with the Gators and Muschamp has continued to employ the running backs in the passing game.  This aspect of Florida’s offense will force the Crimson Tide defense to stay aware and make tackles on the edges of the field when the Gators run and throw screens to the outside.

While Florida won’t be throwing deep bombs on a regular basis expect the team to have a nice mix of run and pass.

Alabama’s offense has had no problems staying balanced either.

Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy continue to find success on the ground.  But, Florida will be their toughest test yet.  The Gator’s run defense is allowing 56.5 yards on the ground per game, which ranks fifth in the nation.

AJ McCarron will also need to continue to develop into a more accurate passer for the Crimson Tide.  McCarron is completing 66.3 percent of his passes but has had problems overthrowing receivers all season.

Starting Linebacker C.J. Moseley was injured last week against Arkansas and will not play against Florida.  According to Coach Saban, he will most likely be replaced by multiple players throughout the game depending on the situation.

The potential for a track meet style football game where the team with the most speed is there, but if Alabama’s defense can play to its potential, the Crimson Tide should have no problem competing with the athletic Gators.

Coverage starts at 7 p.m. CT, and will be televised on CBS.