Sideline reports: Fast start, poor finish

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp talks with linebacker Jonathan Bostic (52) against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Gainesville, Fla.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 11:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 11:42 p.m.

Best and worst

Best start

All week the talk was what Florida's offense would do if (or more like when) Alabama took away quarterback John Brantley's security blanket — senior running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Well, Florida didn't wait to find out, as Brantley threw deep on the first play. He hit Andre Debose in full stride for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

Worst momentum stopper

After Florida's bombshell start to the game on offense, the Gator special teams and defense were unable to contain the Tide in the first quarter. Bama's Marquis Maze gutted Florida with two big kickoff returns, the second for 70 yards to the UF 29-yard line. On defense, Florida's biggest concern all week was stopping Alabama running back Trent Richardson. He quickly proved to be everything he was billed to be — a lethal combination of power and speed.

Best atmosphere

This game lived up to the hype. A throaty full house was promised and delivered. The Gators played to the sellout crowd from the start, exhorting The Swamp for game-changing noise. Florida fans came through with deafening roars that forced a couple of early Alabama mistakes and a timeout when the game was still in doubt. Before halftime, however, it was the visitors' turn, as chants of "Roll Tide" echoed through the stadium after scoring drives. The announced attendance of 90,888 was the second-largest crowd in Florida Field history. Most went home with scratchy throats.

Best substitute

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said UF would not hold back anything on offense against Alabama. Enter Andre "The Kitchen Sink" Debose, who came to Florida a five-star recruit but hadn't done much other than special teams in more than two years. Saturday, Debose replaced Quinton Dunbar at wide receiver and gave the Gators a spark. He finished with two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Stats of the game

At the end of the first half, the tone was set by Florida's offense. But it wasn't what was expected. The Gators finished the opening stanza with 193 passing yards and minus-17 yards rushing. Florida came into the game averaging an SEC-best 259 yards a game on the ground. And those 193 yards passing at the half nearly eclipsed Florida's average of 202.8 yards per game.

Play of the game

Alabama weathered Florida's storm of offense in the first quarter and turned the game in its favor with suffocating defense. With Brantley throwing over the middle under pressure, linebacker Courtney Upshaw stepped in front of Trey Burton, intercepted the ball and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead.

What's up with that?

Florida linebacker Jon Bostic, one of the leaders on a young Gator defense, got locked up late in the second quarter with an Alabama offensive lineman, got frustrated and took a big swing at his foil after the whistle. Bostic missed and was lucky to only draw a personal foul. Even worse, he got an earful of fury from Florida coach Will Muschamp before he could even make it to the sideline.

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