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Three Keys for Florida

Stop the run without sacrificing play action coverage.

Florida can afford to spend some extra effort in stopping Alabama's running game thanks to having a clearly good pass defense. The trick though is to do that without allowing Alabama play action game to get going. Too little attention has been paid to Bama TE Colin Peek and how he's one of Greg McElroy's favorite targets after faking a hand off. He can do some damage.

Florida will probably go to man coverage when loading the box, which means a linebacker will likely have to recognize Peek on a pass route and cover him. Brandon Spikes will be in run support far more often than not, so how Ryan Stamper and Brandon Hicks cover Peek will be vital to stopping the Tide attack.

Be able to find someone other than Cooper and Hernandez on third down.

The scouting report is crystal clear at this point. On third down, Tim Tebow generally goes through three progressions: look for Riley Cooper, look for Aaron Hernandez, and then take off. Alabama knows this, and so do the Florida coaches through self scouting.

Last year, little used targets Carl Moore and David Nelson caught touchdown passes on third down. Nelson is back, and Deonte Thompson is pretty good too. Florida has to be willing to go to those guys on third down because it's unlikely that the excellent Bama secondary will leave Cooper and Hernandez open. The primary targets are primary targets for a reason, and they'll get their shares of the third down throws. However, those two alone won't be enough to defeat the Tide.

Win the fourth quarter again.

There is a reason why Florida is a dominant fourth quarter team. Tebow just doesn't wear down over the course of a game as you might expect, and everyone goes through Mickey Marotti's hellish yet extremely effective off season conditioning program. Not only that, but depth in key places like defensive line allow the coaches to rotate liberally and keep players fresh.

It's very unlikely either team will put this one away after 45 minutes. It almost certainly will come down to who wins the fourth quarter again, and UF would appear to have an advantage in that regard once more. They will need to do what they do best: finish stronger than the other guys. That's no small feat against Alabama, but it will need to be done.