Will Alabama football see an offensive equal in SEC Championship Game against Florida?
Alabama football has not seen much in terms of an offensive equal in 2020. It has won the total yardage battle in all of its games by at least 76 yards, and won by 150 yards or more in six of its 10 games. It leads the nation in touchdowns.
Saturday’s SEC Championship Game (7 p.m., CBS) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will present as close to an offensive equal as UA has seen in months.
Florida is tied for fifth in the nation in points, tied for fourth in plays of 10 yards or more and first in passing yards per game. Alabama has outgained five of its last six opponents by more than 255 yards. It is unlikely to experience the same offensive dominance Saturday.
“This team is as explosive as anyone in the country on offense,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “They have really good skill players, really good quarterback, good balance on offense. (Florida coach) Dan (Mullen) does a great job in terms of calling plays, formations, adjustments. A lot of similarities to LSU's style of play last year in terms of the kind of mismatch players that they have. They've done a good job of utilizing all their talent in a very positive way.”
The Gators have done it all with little real threat on the ground. Thirteen SEC rushers have more yards than Florida’s leading rusher, Dameon Price with 441 yards. Three SEC quarterbacks have more rushing yards than Florida’s No. 2 rusher, Malik Davis with 277. The Gators use backup quarterback Emory Jones as a rushing specialist in certain packages, but it’s far from prominent with only 20 carries.
Florida’s offensive firepower is reliant on Heisman Trophy candidate Kyle Trask and the pass-catchers who help boost his numbers.
Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II called Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney “very shifty,” evidenced in his ability to create big plays. Over Toney’s 62 catches, 59.6% have gone for 10 yards or more, almost a quarter of them have gone for 20 yards or more and nearly 10% have gone for 30 yards or more.
Toney is also one of the most productive all-purpose players in the SEC. He is the only player in the conference with at least 100 punt return yards and 100 kick return yards, on top of 146 rushing yards and ranking third in receiving yards. His 1,228 all-purpose yards rank fifth in the SEC.
Tight end Kyle Pitts has been comparably explosive, with over 30% of his receptions going for 20 yards or more. He is one of just four tight ends in the nation with at least three receptions of 40 yards or more.
Then there’s Trask.
“We’re going to have to be on our A game to play against him,” UA defensive lineman DJ Dale said. “He’s relentless, he’s a competitor. He has a good arm. The past couple of games he’s been running the ball real well.”
All of the options come together to form an offense that could, for the first time in months, stay on Alabama’s pace for some, if not all, of a game.
“I think they have the potential to do it,” UA wide receiver DeVonta Smith said.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson