With less than a month until the SEC Championship Game, it is becoming clearer that Alabama will be taking on the Florida Gators for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff. While many ‘Bama fans might be overlooking this game, it should be noted that a game against the Gators won’t be a walk in the park. Before booking your hotel tickets for the CFP Semifinals on New Year’s Day, make sure the Crimson Tide can get past Florida.

By all means, this won’t be the first time these two teams have met in the conference championship. Since the first SEC Championship Game in 1992, nine of the 28 games played have featured both ‘Bama and Florida. In fact, the Gators have played Alabama five times in the eight SEC title games that the Crimson Tide has won.

This year is a different story, however. The mighty Crimson Tide defenses of the early 2010s are no more. The Alabama defense is allowing an average of passing 260.3 yards a game, which may be a problem for the Crimson Tide if they want to take down a dominant Kyle Trask-led air attack.

The bottom line is this:

There are three reasons that Alabama fans should be worried about the Florida Gators, and they all center around the Crimson Tide defense.

1. Alabama Defensive Back Play:

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As previously mentioned, the Crimson Tide defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for over 260 yards a game on average. This is a major downgrade from the previous three years. Last season featured major aerial attacks by Auburn’s Bo Nix and LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning Joe Burrow, and the ‘Bama defense still only averaged 187 passing yards a game. Whether fans will admit it or not, the Alabama secondary has slacked from their previous seasons’ work. This is seen in the 10 passing touchdowns allowed this season compared to the six rushing scores allowed.

2. Failure to Cover Passes to Running Backs:

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While Alabama’s defensive line has stood strong to the rushing attack, the defensive edge players have failed. This season, the Alabama defense has given up almost 400 yards- of their 1562 total passing yards- to running backs. That’s roughly 25%.

Where it stands after the six games that Florida has played, Gator running back Malik Davis is the fourth-best receiver on the team. Davis has 16 receptions for 267 yards and is averaging 16.7 yards a catch. Still, the Gators have an even scarier offensive weapon.

3. Kyle Pitts:

One of the biggest storylines in both the SEC and the entire college football world this season has been the passing connection between Florida quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts.

The junior from Philadelphia has already passed his touchdown totals from 2018 and 2019 combined. In addition, Pitts is on track to do the same in receiving yards in just a few weeks.

Vanderbilt v Florida
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After six games, Pitts has recorded 414 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on only 24 receptions. That’s an average of 17.3 yards per catch and a touchdown every three receptions.

Not only has Alabama struggled with running backs who can catch. Through their six games, Alabama has allowed 287 receiving yards by tight ends. On average, tight ends are gaining around 9.4 yards per reception, which could spell trouble for an Alabama defense that is struggling to tackle.

This was most evident in the slight victory over Ole Miss, a team that loses surprisingly similar to Florida. Tight end Kenny Yeboah recorded 181 receiving yards and two touchdowns on just seven catches. Yeboah also averaged almost 26 yards a catch.

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Don’t take this as a death sentence, Alabama fans. This is not a definite loss to Florida. Just remember that while Alabama’s defense has started to show much-needed improvement, Florida is still a force to be reckoned with.

Alabama 2020 Defense Contributors

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