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Upon Further Review: Alabama vs Florida

 

 

Despite four turnovers, and nine offensive penalties, the Alabama offense posted eye-popping offensive statistics in their 42-21 destruction of Florida this past Saturday. The superlatives that have flowed from the keyboards and inkwells of sportswriters could fill Bryant-Denny Stadium fifteen times over. To the surprise of few, Nick Saban isn’t nearly as interested in tossing around compliments.

 

At his press conference on Tuesday, Saban said, “I think that we show signs of being a good team, but we also make a lot of mistakes.”

 

Two plays from the Florida game epitomize the dichotomy that Nick Saban spoke about, and underscore not only how excellent the 2014 Crimson Tide can be, but also how far the team has to go to reach their absurdly high talent ceiling.

 

Play One: Cooper’s 79 yard TD pass

What happens when you pair an offensive coordinator known for constructing plays to get a team’s best players the football with one of the most polished route runners in college football today? In this case, a 79 yard bomb for one of the easiest touchdowns that the Tide will see this season.

CoopTD on Make A Gif

 

 

This play is art. It’s a play action pass where Amari Cooper (field side in the slot) runs the deep post as the first read, but Blake Sims has a 10 yard stop that DeAndrew White runs on the same side that functions as a check down if the UF defender manages to stay with Amari Cooper once he breaks to the middle of the field.

 

In order to take care of the boundary safety, and suck him closer to the line of scrimmage, Brian Vogler also runs a fifteen yard down and out from his spot on the line next to left tackle Cameron Robinson. What that creates is an enormous void that Cooper exploits on the play.

 

Gator DB Keanu Neal (#42) is assigned to cover Cooper on the play, and he will want to burn this film. He bites on Cooper intentionally letting his route drift further outside of the hash marks, and actually turns his hips toward the Florida sideline in anticipation of Cooper running a deep out. Had Cooper run that route, there’s a fair chance that Neal could have made a play, and potentially even had an interception. Unfortunately, the second that Neal’s hips are turned, he is out of the play. Cooper accurately reads Neal’s movements, and breaks toward the middle of the field on the deep post route. The rest is six-point history.

 

Play Two: Maddening Miscues Lead to Turnover

There are multiple frustrations with this play from an awkward exchange to a complete whiff on a block which truly blew the play apart. There’s also a fumble that resulted in a rugby scrum that can only be described with Benny Hill in the background.

Fumble2 on Make A Gif

 

 

The play is a quarterback run all the way, with a fake to Kenyan Drake in an attempt to force a false step from the left defensive end in order to give Blake Sims time to get through an opening created by the right side of the Alabama offensive line with the help of pulling right guard Arie Kouandjio. It is a different take on the “Power” play from two years ago where Chance Warmack would come rumbling around center to blow a hole open during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

 

It was a bad play from the start thanks to Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. (#6) The future NFL player beats right guard Leon Brown with an inside move so badly that even if the fake by Blake Sims had been slightly crisper, it would have been a tackle for loss. As is, the combination of an extended fake, which can be argued to be a pivotal part of the play depending on how it is designed, and Fowler’s explosive first step results in Sims being unable to even secure the ball and start running before Fowler is in the backfield. The fumble is easy to see from there.

 

It’s a shame too because the rest of the offensive line executes their assignments well, and the play would have gained positive yards if not for Fowler’s individual effort. It goes without saying that any sort of breakdown this bad is unacceptable going forward, and it is plays like this that bring out comments like Nick Saban’s at his press conference.

 

Though the offense did have mistakes, it is unequivocal that Lane Kiffin justified his hire against Florida. Alabama’s offense has been firing on all cylinders through four games, and as the team continues to lock in, and fine tune all of the concepts that Kiffin continues to add to the offense, it could be even better. That strong an offense will be necessary to make it through the gauntlet that is the SEC West, and all of the ingredients are on-hand for it to coalesce as Alabama heads deeper into SEC play.

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