Crimson Tide built for Saturday’s chess game

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be filled with the exceptional Alabama Football and the Florida Gators athletes on Saturday afternoon. In a one-on-one battle based purely on athleticism, the Crimson Tide would likely prevail, but Florida also has an abundance of athleticism.

The game also features intriguing matchups and options for both coaching teams. The stratagems and the call of the four Coordinators are like a game of chess. The Crimson Tide also has an advantage here. Bill o’brien against Todd Grantham favors the Tide by a wide margin. Dan Mullen against Pete Golding and Nick Saban gives the Crimson Tide another advantage. To state that this is not intended to disparage Mullen. The eccentric Mullen, despite having a much respected offensive spirit, sometimes goes unrecognized. It happens to coaches who spend too many years in Starkville.

O’Brien has plenty of guns. Grantham, with less, will be forced to play. The game has been his professional disposition throughout his career. It brings warmth, with early and often blitzes. Its defenses disrupt the attacks of the adversaries. They are also burned by the big games. Florida’s best chance on Saturday is to rock Bryce Young in the intimidating environment of The Swamp. Grantham will try to pressure Young to make mistakes. If Grantham can slow down Tide’s hasty attack as well, Young might lose patience and try to do too much.

Unless the Gators can quell Tide’s ongoing attack, O’Brien can be patient. The OC and QB can look for openings and grab Florida mistakes.

Florida attack on Alabama football defense

An even more interesting game of chess will be when the Gators are on offense. Dan Mullen loves to run football and he has two quarterbacks that are good at it. One of them is particularly good. If Anthony Richardson has fully recovered from a hamstring problem, he can be a game-changer. Richarson is a tough physical showdown for any opposing player or team. He’s tall and quick and could be the most physically gifted quarterback for the Gators.

Nick Saban spoke on both Florida quarterbacks on Wednesday. Saban also knows that Mullen is very good at using two quarterbacks. Saban made these comments on Mullen,

When he (Mullen) was in Mississippi State, he did it with Dak…

… It’s very difficult because you have an extra blocker in a lot of these plays when the quarterback is kicking the ball. So you need a plus one player on defense all the time. And the guy who’s assigned to the quarterback better be athletic enough to take it.

Has Nick Saban revealed he plans to “spy” on the Gators’ QBs? Especially with Richardson, that would make sense. Florida like to have their running backs off tackles. The QB’s favorite race is indoors. Either Henry To’o To’o or Christain Harris may have the job of making sure these QB races don’t turn into explosive games. First, Tide’s defensive front will attempt to close the traffic lanes. If this unit is successful, a major weapon for Mullen could be neutralized.

None of this is as easy as it sounds. The noisy environment of the Florida stadium will challenge Tide defenders to do readings before and after the crash. Tidal errors could lead to the kind of big plays Florida played against its two lesser foes in 2021.

Alabama football fans don’t have to worry too much. Very carefully, over the last three or four signing classes, Nick Saban has built a slightly leaner, faster, but still powerful defense. It’s a defense built to match the pace and speed of today’s best attacks. This season promises to be the great defensive reward.

All of the above leads to a simple conclusion. Dan Mullen and the Gators have the toughest job on Saturday.


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