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Florida vs. Alabama, Film Room: How the Gators ran all over the Tide (but lost)

Florida’s running game gave Alabama fits — because Alabama couldn’t fit it. But the Gators still made too many mistakes to upset the Tide.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida-Alabama was a big-time game in all respects. Big-time players. Big-time atmosphere. And, last but certainly not least, big-time coaches. Nick Saban, Dan Mullen and their respective staffs were locked in an awesome schematic battle all day long.

Saban has more than cemented his status as a legendary coach. All that’s left for him is to have his own fanbase admit that he’s better than the Bear. Mullen is not on Saban’s level — nobody is — but he has pushed Saban’s teams recently in a way that nobody else really has.

That trend continued on Saturday.

Offensively, Florida had a great plan. I mentioned in my weekly look at personnel groupings that Florida never left 11 personnel. It may seem odd to say, but only using one personnel grouping gave Florida an advantage.

The Gators didn’t go crazy fast on offense against Alabama, but they also didn’t huddle. Florida continually would get back on the line of scrimmage with the same personnel in a variety of formations. They milked the clock from the line of scrimmage, allowing the players and staff to get a good look at the defense and make necessary adjustments. This also nullified any substituting on Alabama’s part. The referee will only stand over the ball to allow the defense to bring new guys in when the offense changes personnel.

Florida never changed personnel.

Florida’s touchdown drives in the second half were all 10+ plays. That is no coincidence. Florida also had some great schematic wrinkles. Dan Mullen used formations into the boundary and motion to give Florida advantageous looks from the Alabama defense. I take a look at all those schemes and more below.

Defensively, I thought Florida had a good plan as well. The communication was much better in the back end than the last time these two teams met. You didn’t really see many guys streaking wide open like we saw in the 2020 SEC Championship game. Florida did a solid job against what is still a potent Alabama offense.

If not for some missed open field tackles early and a few untimely penalties, this could have been one of the better performances we’ve seen from a Florida defense in some time. I take a closer look at Florida’s defensive performance below.

The margin is slim when playing the best teams. If you’re a Florida fan, I think you have to be encouraged by this performance. Florida didn’t play anywhere near a perfect game and still had the No. 1 team in the country on the ropes.

Now the Gators just have to take that next step and beat teams like Alabama. Hopefully, Florida will earn another chance in early December.