The Difference that Makes Alabama the Winner over Fla. State
By: Larry Burton
No regular season game could be tougher for both these teams than the first game on Florida State and Alabama’s schedule when they line up against each other. Both have been strong candidates to make the college football playoff this season because both have good teams.
When you compare this player to that player, this group against that group and so forth, there appears to be little difference in some of them.
Take for example Alabama’s offensive line against Florida State’s defensive line. Both have great players and both are certain strengths against the other. In all, at least in this example, Alabama has a slight edge, at least in my opinion, but that won’t be the reason they win the game.
When you compare the throwing talent of Jalen Hurts against the defensive secondary of Florida State, you have to give the edge to Florida State. However with the talent of the very good receiving corps Alabama has, it could almost be a wash. This also won’t be the reason Alabama wins the game.
Flipping the coin, given that Alabama may be playing a converted receiver at corner, it might be easy to say that the Seminoles QB may have the slightest of edges against over the Alabama secondary. But again, this won’t be a deciding factor in the game.
One thing will make a big difference is Alabama has super quality running backs similar to sticking lots of rounds in a high capacity rifle magazine. Florida State can’t match the quality or numbers the Alabama squad brings to bear, but that still won’t be the main reason Alabama wins the game.
Since we haven’t seen the man who will more than likely be the placekicker ever kick a ball in a Crimson uniform it’s hard to say who will hold the edge in special teams, but that won’t be reason Bama wins the game either.
What happens to be the 600 pound gorilla in the room, the thing that will create the most chaos in the game, the absolute unquestionable reason Alabama will win the game is the matchup of Florida State’s rebuilding offense line trying to stop this Alabama defensive front from just simply dominating the game.
Getting into making a reasonable case for this statement starts in the middle. The Seminoles still don’t have a certain winner for the center job and they’re going against against Da’Ron Payne who may be the most gifted and most athletic noseguard that Saban has ever had. The Noles center won’t be able to handle Payne, who benches about 550, so that means that someone is going to have to give him a hand and that means one less person to stop the rest of the jail break guys from creating chaos in the Nole’s backfield.
Pity the new guy taking over the State’s left tackle job as he goes against Da’Shawn Hand, a certain NFL first rounder when the time comes. Even though the Noles left tackle is 6’8” and 287, Josh Ball has never seen the speed and athleticism that Hand has and combined with the fact that it will be his first start, he’s simply going to be in panic mode most of the night trying to decide if Hand is going to do an inside or an around the corner speed rush.
Just these two problems are going to be more than enough, but we haven’t even mentioned Isiah Buggs, who’ll be on the other side of the line. Buggs or Josh Frazier will start, both will play and both will be handfuls to stop on that side. So you have an overwhelming noseguard pushing the line backward, needing to be double teamed most of the time with major trouble coming from both ends.
Now throw in Alabama’s elite linebacking corp also blitzing in from different areas and poor Deondre Francois may have nowhere to run, nowhere to drop back to and nowhere to hide.
With so much leakage from so many areas of the line, Francois will be sacked, may have the ball smacked from his hand and will certainly be forced into some earlier throws than he’d like to make and some off balance and on the run throws that could cause him some problems with a very opportunistic Alabama secondary.
As for the Seminole running game, Jacques Patrick certainly has the pedigree to be a great running back. He was a five star prodigy coming out of high school and has backed up the Noles top rusher for the last two years being the number two rusher last season with 350 yards.
But he is simply being thrown to the wolves in this, his first season as a starter and for the Noles to try and up sustained drives, they’ll have to do it through the running game and we’ve already talked about how difficult that may be. Again, Alabama’s defensive front against the Nole’s offensive line is just too big a mismatch. Talking linebackers now, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans are two NFL top picks in the future and Anfernee Jennings and Christian Miller are going to make some headlines this season of their own.
There’s the reason Alabama wins the game against Florida State. Las Vegas has it about a five to six margin, but in my many years of covering Alabama football and man to man matchups, a 17 point difference may seem more in line. This is due to it being the first game of the season. Should they meet again later in the playoffs, the margin would be lower as the Nole offensive line should make great strides as the season goes along. Yes the old saying that defenses come together quicker than offenses is certainly true and certainly applicable in this game and the Seminole’s inability to field an offensive line that can handle Alabama’s front six or seven is the reason they lose this game.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter
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