As long as it was a game of turnovers and lack of precision, Florida managed to hang with a much better Alabama team. However, at some point coaching and talent start to take their place, leading to a dominant 42-21 win for the Crimson Tide with an excellent performance from quarterback Blake Sims, mostly thanks to having someone like Amari Cooper to throw to.
The best wide receiver in the nation? Maybe. In the SEC? Most definitely. There was talk before the game about Vernon Hargreaves being able to slow down Cooper. It wasn’t to be. He didn’t cover him at all times, but even when he did, Cooper was never really bothered. He finished with 10 receptions for 201 yards with three touchdown catches, that included one 79-yard play at the end of the second quarter to tie the game, with Alabama focusing on passing the ball to shred the Florida defense.
After building a lead, it seemed like Derrick Henry finally got going, eventually finishing with 111 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown while T.J Yeldon added 59 yards on 18 carries. Cooper was the big story, making it six straight games for him with over 100 yards of receiving, the longest streak in College Football. He has also been targeted more than six times in six consecutive games, also more than anyone in the FBS. With 20 career touchdowns, he holds the record for an Alabama receiver.
Blake Sims had himself a special day as well. It started with an interception, as Alabama turned the ball over three times, a rarity with Nick Saban on the sidelines. But Alabama kept putting the ball in the air until Florida submitted. Sims finished with 23-of-33 for 445 yards, only the second time in school history a quarterback has thrown for over 400 yards. He also finished with four touchdown passes, including an 87-yard play to open the scoring in the game, finding Kenyan Drake.
For Florida, it was a very different ride. This season has been about trying to become a passing team or at least more versatile on offense. However, they don’t have the talent and personnel to run that kind of system at the moment, and Jeff Driskel is certainly not the quarterback for that type of offense. He got worse as the game moved along, finishing with just 9-of-28 for 93 yards, one touchdown pass and two interceptions. It didn’t matter that he led Florida’s rushing with 59 yards. Once Alabama stopped turning the ball over, the offense gave the defense no chance of competing, spending less than 21 minutes on the field and converting just 2-of-13 on third down.
This isn’t the loss that ends Will Muschamp’s career as the Florida head coach. A three-touchdown loss at Alabama these days is something teams can live with, especially after doing so badly last season. But this game didn’t show a new and improved Florida team. A good defense, a mediocre offense. A combination that is barely enough to reach a bowl game in the SEC. Most of their tough games are at home this season, and still not a lot of hope comes out from the first three games.
Alabama? They improve to 4-0 but still aren’t completely convincing. They’ve been giving up way too many points against less than formidable opposition. Blake Sims might be putting up big numbers, but he isn’t very accurate and gets bailed out by Cooper too many times. There needs to be more from the Crimson Tide in order to convince everyone of how good they are, and in order to last this season without a loss.