UA dominates line of scrimmage

Florida back up quarterback and true freshman Jeff Driskel is sacked during the second half against Alabama in Gainesville Saturday, October 1, 2011.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.

Florida coach Will Muschamp has stressed throughout his brief tenure that the Southeastern Conference is a line of scrimmage league.

On Saturday, Florida failed to win the line scrimmage in its 38-10 loss to Alabama at Florida Field.

Alabama manhandled Florida on both front lines throughout the game. The Gators couldn't open holes in the running game, failed to protect senior quarterback John Brantley and couldn't stop Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson.

Florida also failed to get a sack after getting nine sacks in its previous four games.

"I'm going to be in here (Sunday) breaking down film, correcting my mistakes," Florida senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard said. "I feel like I left some plays on the field that I shouldn't have had. We had made the big plays all year long ... we were back there. We just couldn't wrap them up."

Florida finished the first half with negative-17 yards rushing. Brantley was sacked three times in the first half. The last of the three was costly. Alabama senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw's sack on a blitz late in the second quarter knocked Brantley out of the game with a leg injury.

The Gators, who came into the game giving up just 56.5 yards per game rushing, allowed Richardson to rush for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He finished with a career-high 181 yards on 29 carries and Bama finished with 226 rushing yards on 43 carries.

"It always hurts a defensive lineman a little bit more when a team can run the ball at you," Florida senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. "They had a lot of good runs. We did a poor job I think of gang-tackling the running backs. They got a lot of extra yards off of that."

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide had the upperhand on the lines.

"Offensively, we controlled the line of scrimmage," Saban said. "The offensive line did a fantastic job."

Meanwhile, the Florida running back tandem of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps combined for just one yard rushing in the first half. Florida came into the game leading the SEC in rushing at 259 yards per game.

But the Gators hadn't encountered a defensive front seven as strong and physical as Alabama's. The Crimson Tide average more than 300 pounds across their defensive line.

With backup quarterback Jeff Driskel in the game, the Gators still couldn't get anything going on the ground. Driskel had a 31-yard run on a scramble in the third quarter. But Demps and Rainey couldn't break through Alabama's defensive front to make the big plays they had made in the first four games of the season. UF finished with 15 yards on 29 carries, with the sacks factored in.

Things didn't get much better on the defensive front. After some stands early in the third quarter, Florida's defense wore down in the fourth quarter. Richardson scored on a 36-yard TD run to put Alabama up 31-10. Backup Alabama running back Eddie Lacy then broke through Florida's defensive front for a 20-yard TD run that extended the Tide's lead to 38-10.

"I feel like they really didn't manhandle us, per se," Howard said. "The score doesn't really reflect the game as a whole. We are a physical team and we're gonna be a physical team."

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