For only the third time this season, Alabama comes into the game as a favorite with less than three touchdowns.
This SEC title game match against Florida will take the 10-0 Crimson Tide against an 8-2 Gators team with a Heisman contender as quarterback (Kyle Trask), two of the nation’s top playmakers (tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Kadarius Toney) and a No. 2 offense in the SEC in scoring.
But does Florida really have a chance to beat the Tide? Will the game even be competitive?
To feel better, AL.com spoke with coaches and team officials from around the SEC. Here are their thoughts on the game to join in with some of the other interesting nuggets heading into the matchup.
There isn’t much confidence in Florida from an SEC coaching perspective, especially after the Gators’ home loss 37-34 to 3-5 LSU on Saturday.
It was the fourth time this year that the Florida defense has surrendered at least 35 points. Now the Gators are poised for an Alabama offense that ranks No. 1 by Power Five teams in scoring.
The Tide has outperformed its first 10 opponents by an average margin of 50-17, beating the two teams that won Florida – Texas A&M and LSU – with a combined total of 107-41.
“Bama to 21,” said an SEC coordinator.
“I think Bama will beat the s – out of them,” said an offensive coach from the SEC.
“I don’t see it really close,” said a senior SEC team official.
“Bama beats them by 20 or more, easily,” said one NFL scout. “Florida’s line of attack is really, really average and the line of defense isn’t much better. DBs are just OK. LSU scored 37 on them. Bama will easily be in his forties. “
“Alabama will kill Florida,” said a SEC defensive coach. “No question. End of conversation.”
Of the coaches and team officials who spoke to AL.com, only a few believe the game can even be competitive.
“Losing Florida may have helped in a way,” said a SEC defensive coach. They were humiliated. Know they have a lot to work on. Should have a highly competitive and motivated team this week in preparation for Bama. “
“I think the game is closer than people think,” said another SEC defensive coach. “Florida comes out pissed and motivated. Pitts didn’t play (vs. LSU), which was huge. I don’t think they were ready to play either. They were sleepwalking for the first half. They are good. LSU played well considering everyone who was out. Plus, that LSU offense is different with the Max Johnson kid at QB. He is and will be very good. “
Florida passing game vs. Alabama’s Improving Defense
It will be Trask, who is nationally No. 1 in passing yards and passing touchdowns, against a Pete Golding-led Alabama defense who has allowed an average of just 8.8 points in the six games since he combined 72 points has submitted to Ole Miss and Georgia. .
“Don’t think Florida has any defense advantage against Bama’s attack, but find a way to get the ball to Pitts, Toney and Grimes,” said a SEC defensive coach. Even shorter. Perhaps the best group of wide receivers that Bama has dealt with. Saban will try to get Pitts away. They will likely double it. Maybe he’s trying to double him and Toney. Grimes must be one-on-one winning. Also, as against UGA, make sure that the backs match Bama’s linebackers in pass coverage. “
“They spread it out and make sure you defend every inch,” said another SEC defensive coach. “Mullen is a really good coach. He just got too cute (against LSU) on Saturday. “
However, another SEC assistant coach threw out a joke when asked about the Florida offense.
“You mean No. 1 (Toney) and No. 84 (Pitts)?” he answered. “Good players. Still not good enough.”
That coach also doesn’t seem to be as high on Trask as others around the conference.
“Takes risks,” he said. “Will throw pickaxes.”
Offensive line Alabama vs. front seven Florida
Numerous SEC head coaches have named Alabama’s line of attack as one of the best they’ve ever seen. It will be a tough match for the Gators front seven. While Florida is No. 1 in the SEC in bagging (3.1 per game), the Gators are No. 45 nationally and No. 6 in the SEC in run defense.
“Florida’s offensive and defensive line will be destroyed by Alabama,” said the aforementioned NFL scout.
“Florida linebackers are probably their greatest weakness,” said an SEC team official. “(Cornerback) Kaiir Elam, (cornerback) Marco Wilson and (defensive end) Brenton Cox are the guys we thought were the best. Everyone is pretty average. “
“Not very good in the front seven,” said an SEC offensive Florida coach. Athletic at the rear. Safeguards are good players. “
Alabama wide receivers vs. Florida secondary
A SEC defensive assistant coach summed it up with the Alabama attack this way: “ You have to get them in the third and long time and force Jones to throw it at anyone other than 6 (DeVonta Smith), 8 (John Metchie ) and 22 (Najee Harris).
However, that is easier said than done.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida scored on them and moved the ball,” said an SEC offensive coach. “They are good enough in case of violation. But Bama is so good at offense, it’s like watching a video game. “
Three of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy will play in this game: Smith, Jones and Trask.
While media figures continue to focus more on the quarterbacks as the Heisman favorites, coaches around the conference have a different perspective.
AL.com asked 18 coaches and team officials from across the SEC: If you had to vote for the Heisman today, who would you vote for?
Of the 18, 15 voted for Smith.
Two of the other votes went to Trask. One went to Jones.
“If someone can really see that boy play in person and really believe there is a better player in the country than he is, then they are the dumbest person in the world,” said an offensive SEC coach. ‘He can do it all. Effortless. “
“Simply put, the best player in the country in the best team in the country,” said a SEC defensive coach. He’s been dominating since they lost the country’s most explosive player, Waddle. And he’s valuable in special teams with a record of 10-0. “
“Hands down, probably the most explosive and dynamic football player in college football right now,” said another SEC defensive coach. “He’s on the number one ranked team in the country that is fully loaded with other weapons. Yet he still finds ways to amaze us every weekend. Every time he touches the ball, the man is subject to a house call. “
“If they hadn’t lost, I would have said Trask,” added another coach.
Jones has not only put himself in a position to potentially win the Heisman, but has also gone on to profile himself as a possible first-round design pick. “I would say he is a first relative of others who have recently been drafted,” said one scout.
– Harris is now in that first-round conversation too, having improved his stock after receiving mostly third through fourth round grades last season. The senior leads the country with 22 hasty touchdowns. “Najee has played inspired this year,” said a scout. “Leave 1. Not later than 2.”
Cornerback Josh Jobe will be one of the Tide underclassmen to make a decision at the end of the season. The feeling seems to be that he wouldn’t be any worse than an early Day 3 draft pick if he turned pro. “Jobe should stay for another year, but he has played better this year,” said a scout. “A work in progress. He’s probably a fourth now. Could move.”
– Concept feedback was not that good on Crimson Tide in linebacker Dylan Moses. Before sustaining a knee injury in the summer of 2019, Moses was seen as a potential first round for 2020 squad and would have had a good chance of still going through the first two rounds of this year’s draft, even after missing the entire season last season. Nevertheless, the current belief in the scouting world is that he could eventually drop to day 3 of the draft. “He’s a third at best,” said a scout. “Maybe more fourth or fifth.”
Pitts, Trask, Toney, Grimes and Cox are the best prospects for Florida, according to scouts. While Trask entered the year with mostly late numbers, current forecasts are more in the second to fourth round range. “Great pocket passer with a strong arm and accurate when he can stand and throw from his platform,” said a scout. “Not great outside of schedule or when we have to move. Toney, Grimes and the tight ending make him better than he really is. Bit stiff and mechanical as an athlete. Not explosive in his lower body. Plays well according to the diagram. Not so good if the script doesn’t work. “In addition to Pitts and Trask, those other three – Toney, Grimes and Cox – are all also seen as top three or four round players.
Matt Zenitz is a senior SEC football reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mzenitz.