Rainey, Demps don't have great track record vs. Tide


Florida running back Jeff Demps is tackled by Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower (30) and Alabama defensive back Mark Barron (4) during the second half on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 5:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 5:28 p.m.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Based on the history Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have compiled against the University of Alabama over the last three years, the Crimson Tide don't have much to worry about against the Gators on Saturday at Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Based on their more recent history — as in, UF's first four games of the season — Alabama has everything to worry about.

Not surprisingly, UA coach Nick Saban has taken the latter approach to the tandem of track-fast running backs.

“They have some outstanding speed, especially on offense,” Saban said. “Rainey and Demps have made a ton of big plays, whether it's taking a short pass and turning it into a long run, or running a lot of sweeps and running plays they've broken.”

To be sure, the Gators' speedy duo has combined for 731 rushing yards through four games for the 4-0 Gators, with Rainey averaging 6.5 per carry, and Demps a whopping 9.4. Both have run track at Florida, although it's Demps who is fast enough to make a career out of running without a football. He ran with the U.S. National track team in Italy this year.

“I think when you have that kind of speed, especially on the perimeter, it's so important defensively to keep leverage on the ball,” Saban added. “I call it sideboards on the defense — so people can't run around you.”

For all their explosiveness, however, neither Demps nor Rainey has ever really detonated on a Crimson Tide defense. As freshmen in 2008, they combined for 15 carries for only 54 yards in the Southeastern Conference championship game against Alabama. Although Percy Harvin missed that game for Florida with an injury, the Gators had the offensive weapons to win with little assistance from Demps or Rainey. A year later, Rainey and Demps carried just three times for 16 yards against UA on the same championship stage. And as juniors last year in Tuscaloosa, Demps was limited to 47 yards in a 31-6 Alabama win, while Rainey was not playing due to disciplinary reasons. Neither has made an impact as a receiver against Alabama, either.

Just the same, the Crimson Tide are showing reverential respect for the speed both will bring to Saturday's meeting of unbeaten teams. Asked if he would be competing in football or a track meet this weekend, UA linebacker Dont'a Hightower said it seems like a bit of both.

“Those guys from Florida are arguably one of the fastest teams in the country. But, hopefully, we'll be able to contain those guys and keep those guys running east and west instead of north and south,” Hightower said. “But it's going to be a good game. It's always going to be a good game when Alabama and Florida (play).”

Added UA nose guard Josh Chapman: “They always have speed guys. It's no different than what they have always had. They've got guys who can take it the distance. We've got to go out and play Alabama football, which is being physical, hitting guys in the mouth.”

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