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Three Keys for Alabama

Get Mark Ingram going.

Last year, Glen Coffee was the man for Alabama. He ground out 112 yards on 21 carries, including a beastly 18 yard touchdown run for the Tide's first score of the game. He was an important factor in Alabama being able to run its offense the way it wanted to run it and control the game for much of the third quarter.

Ingram played in last year's game too, but he had just 21 yards on eight carries (2.6 average). Obviously he's greatly improved over his freshman self, but something about Florida's defense stymied him last year. He must find what Coffee found, because another 16 carry/30 yard effort will put Bama in seriously bad shape.

Stop Florida's running backs.

Dan Mullen kind of stole my thunder on this one already, but it's true. Jeff Demps is a threat to take it 50 yards. Chris Rainey can juke guys out of their jocks. Emmanuel Moody is averaging over seven yards per carry. Florida's got some very dangerous options at tailback.

On option plays, it would behoove the Tide to focus on those guys. As tempting as it is to try to take a shot at the Golden Boy, the Golden Boy has a far lower average and median rush than the other guys do. Most of Tim Tebow's longest runs come on busted pass plays or designed runs disguised as pass plays, and there's not much you can do about that. However, make him be the ball carrier on the standard running plays. He'll get some yards, but he won't take it half way down the field.

Put pressure on Tebow in the pocket.

Many defenses get confused on what stopping Tim Tebow actually means. You can tell who are the ones that don't know because they celebrate wildly for stopping Tebow on a two or three yard rush. That's not stopping him though; it's just a side effect of having a big dude at quarterback run some option. It's a known issue with the UF offense, and the game plan is built knowing that will happen about seven or eight times a game.

Stopping Tebow is pressuring him, forcing him to make bad decisions, and getting him to turn it over. Throughout his whole career, his worst games have come when he's getting sacked repeatedly. The Florida offensive line has been shaky at times, and it even has an obvious vulnerable point in true freshman LT Xavier Nixon. Nixon has done well so far, but he's still a true freshman and he can and will be beat.