Tale of the Tape: Florida vs. Alabama

Every week, InsidetheGators.net will review game tape of the previous week's opponent.
We'll do our best to analyze it and point out some interesting things that stood out on film. We'll pay special attention to things happening off the ball, players who performed well, players who disappointed and statistical trends forming based on personnel groupings.
Today we go back over Saturday's game against Alabama and report our findings.

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The Gators took a big step back in the turnover margin, creating very few opportunities for takeaways on defense and giving the ball away on a few key plays.
Simply put, Florida isn't currently a team designed to handle a negative turnover margin. The Gators are going to be in a dogfight in just about every game that they record a negative turnover margin.
Against a team as good as Alabama, it was simply too much to overcome. Florida also had trouble converting on third down and in the red zone against the Crimson Tide, something that will have to be fixed for the rest of the SEC season if the Gators hope to get back to Atlanta.
The offensive line had a so-so performance. Snapping the ball is still way too big of an issue for the Gators. This late in the year, Florida should not be struggling consistently with the snaps. Aside from the South Florida game, every game has had a few shaky snaps.
Even though the bad snaps didn't turn out to be extremely costly against Alabama, they still disrupted the flow and rhythm of the offense, particularly when they occurred in the red zone.
Aside from a few boneheaded throws by quarterback John Brantley when he was under pressure, the passing game continued to look good. With some banged up running backs, the Gators may consider passing the ball a bit more given its effectiveness.
Defensively, Florida actually played a pretty sound game. As expected, Alabama utilized a lot of quick, three-step drops in the passing game and mixed in a good amount of screens and short passing routes to keep Florida from blitzing Greg McElroy effectively.
As a result, there was little pressure on McElroy throughout the game. The other concerning thing was how unprepared the Gators looked when McElroy took off to run. It seemed as if they were so focused on the other weapons (Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, etc.) that they completely forgot that the quarterback can take off and run.
Perhaps the one real bright spot in the game was the coverage in the secondary. For the majority of the night, Florida's cornerbacks had great coverage.
However, there was a lack of communication when Marquis Maze lined up in the Wildcat. Absolutely no one covered the tight end running a straight fly route to the end zone, leading to an easy six points for Alabama.
In all, Florida's defense looked pretty well equipped to handle Alabama. If the two teams meet again, it's imperative that the offense doesn't put the defense on a short field. That seemed to cost the Gators as much as anything.
With arguably the toughest task on the team, Janoris Jenkins put together an outstanding game. He was charged with face-guarding All-SEC receiver Julio Jones, and he contained him very well.
Jones was limited to four catches for 19 yards and wasn't much of a factor at all in the Alabama offense.
But the thing that made Jenkins' performance so impressive was that he did it without any help for the majority of the game. That allowed Florida to stay in its five-man front against the run while still allowing the linebackers to stay near the line of scrimmage rather than helping in coverage underneath.
In addition, Jenkins also was very effective against the run. Several times he fought through blocks near the line of scrimmage to tackle or slow the running back coming around the edge.
His play helped stabilize the defense and ensure that Florida could effectively deal with the run. As odd as it sounds, Jenkins might have been the key guy in helping slow down the Alabama run game.
Honorable Mention: Offensive lineman Carl Johnson
Unquestionably, right tackle Xavier Nixon had the worst outing of his career against Alabama. He rarely made good blocks and got physically dominated for most of the night.
Several times, Nixon was put on his back by an Alabama defensive lineman. On one play, he was even fully tossed into the air backwards by a blitzing Alabama linebacker who helped break up the play after blowing up Nixon.
To make matters worse, Nixon didn't seem to be mentally into the game either. He had a few costly penalties.
He was basically pulled out of the starting lineup by halftime, forcing Jon Halapio to come in at right guard and Maurice Hurt to slide out to right tackle.
When Nixon did re-enter the game on Florida's last drive of the game, he was immediately flagged for a false start and pulled right back out of the game.
* Offensive guard Halapio continued to improve. Only once on film did his man have an impact on the play, and a few times Halapio made a terrific block to keep Brantley from getting touched.
* Wide receiver Justin Williams saw his first action of the season on offense, getting in for six snaps. The Gators played well when he was in, averaging 6.2 yards on plays that he was on the field for. That was second on the team (Andre Debose was first with 6.7 yards per play).
* Debose continues to be productive in his limited amount of playing time. However, as we reported last week, he is targeted on a much higher percentage of plays than any other wide receiver.
* Jaye Howard continues to impress on the defensive line. He's a player whose impact doesn't always show up on the stat sheet. However, he frequently collapses the pocket and either causes the quarterback to hurry his release or run into another defender.
* Hurt might have had his worst game of the season. He was average at best when he was at the right guard spot and significantly worse when he slid over to right tackle. He seemed unable to deal with the speed rush around the end.
* Marcus Gilbert also had a so-so game on Saturday. He was average pass-blocking. For whatever reason, the Gators decided not to go his way as much with the football. Only three out of 26 touches by the running backs or Trey Burton went to his side of the field (not counting dive plays run between Mike Pouncey and Johnson).
* The Gators continue to throw the ball more when Omarius Hines is on the field than any other wide receiver. Florida threw 16 times and ran just nine times when Hines was in Saturday. On the year, they've thrown on 66 percent of the plays that he has been on the field for.
Unofficial Play-by-Play Breakdown
Unofficial Distribution Chart