Video via The Daily Bama Blog
Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson took turns bludgeoning the Gators and slicing and dicing them on his way to a career-high 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 38-10 romp in the Swamp. Afterward, he could not quit talking about the guys who paved the way to 226 rushing yards for the Crimson Tide against a Gators’ defense that was allowing just 56.5 yards per game on the ground coming into the game. "I felt like I was running behind a legendary offensive line. They’re living legends right now," Richardson gushed.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Florida's goal was to stop the run. Mainly, it wanted to slow down Richardson. Neither happened in Alabama's rout in Gainesville and Richardson was a main reason for that. He carried the ball 29 times for a career-high 181 yards and had two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 27 more yards. This was the biggest game of the season thus far and Richardson was back in his home state. He came ready to play and it took more than the first couple of hits from Florida defenders to bring Richardson down. He was just too strong and too agile for the Gators Saturday night.
No. 3 Alabama showed it can run and stop the run better than 12th-ranked Florida, maybe better than anyone in the country. Trent Richardson had a career-high 181 yards rushing and two touchdowns, breaking tackles and carrying defenders along the way, and the Crimson Tide rolled the Gators 38-10 on Saturday in an early-season matchup of SEC heavyweights. "This was very sweet because it was against Florida," said Richardson, a junior from Pensacola, Fla.
Richardson finished with his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, and the latest one should solidify his position as one the Heisman Trophy front-runners. With Richardson leading the way, the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) extended its recent dominance in the series. Alabama has outscored Florida (4-1, 2-1), 101-29, in the last three meetings, all wins. The latest one was over by halftime, a clear knockout in a game billed as Florida's speed vs. Alabama's power. It also denied new Florida Coach Will Muschamp a victory against his mentor, Alabama Coach Nick Saban. If anything, it showed how far the Gators have to go to get back to championship form. It was Florida's worst home loss since falling to Louisiana State, 36-7, in 2002.
No truer words have been spoken than the ones that came from Florida coach Will Muschamp's mouth when he made his opening statement at his introductory news conference at Florida Field in December. "The SEC," Muschamp said, "is a line of scrimmage league." Alabama and LSU own the line of scrimmage. Alabama and LSU own the SEC. Saturday at Florida Field, Muschamp's Gators learned precisely how much better they must get along the line of scrimmage if they ever hope to stand astride the conference like the players who roamed The Swamp before them. Florida's offensive linemen watched helplessly as Alabama's Courtney Upshaw bent quarterback John Brantley in a direction human beings aren't supposed to bend. Florida's defensive linemen got flattened by Crimson Tide hogs Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack just in time to watch Trent Richardson's calves thunder past.
It’s not about the sacks, Alabama coach Nick Saban promises. They didn’t hurt late in the second quarter against Florida, though. Linebackers Alex Watkins and Upshaw had back-to-back take downs of Brantley after the Gators drove to the Tide 15 in the closing moments of the half. The Tide finished with three total sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
Saban was asked if he thought Alabama was the best team in the land. "I really can't compare us to other teams because I haven't seen them all," Saban said. "I've seen LSU play a few times because they are in our league and they have a really great team. But the good news is that we will eventually get to play them and we'll get a chance to see."
They were being manhandled up front, to be quite honest, but there were at least some reasons for hope for the Florida Gators. We were finally seeing what the Charlie Weis passing offense looks like and the Gators were moving the ball against one of the best defenses in the nation. Before the two disastrous plays, the second of which may have changed this season, the Gators had managed 198 yards against No. 3 Alabama, had scored twice and were on the verge of doing so again. And then, a sack, And then, John Brantley went down in a heap. "It took the wind out of our sails," said UF coach Will Muschamp.
The difference between Saturday and those losses from back in the program’s history, however, was clear: Alabama never lost its composure, actually seeming to feed off the energy of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In addition to putting more talent on the field, Alabama supplemented that talent with better and more focused coaching. There were plenty of times Alabama could have opted to fold up; not only did Alabama not succumb, it threw the pressure and the chaos back into Florida’s face. It is now fair to begin asking the question of whether this team could develop into one of the best teams in Alabama history. Given the history of Alabama football, it’s simultaneously an exciting and a scary question.
For a fleeting few minutes, it appeared the Gators had a chance to play the nation's No. 3 team right off its feet. Instead, a physically superior Alabama team ignored an early deficit and then pushed and shoved Florida right out of its own stadium, pinning a humbling 38-10 loss on the Gators, the first defeat in the Will Muschamp era.
"I think playing that road game early in the year (against Penn State) really helped AJ manage the game," UA coach Nick Saban said. If McCarron had a defining moment against the Gators, it came on a drive late in the first half that put Alabama up 24-10. He got jacked up by Florida's Dominique Easley late in the second quarter on a play where Easley was flagged for roughing the passer, hitting McCarron late and then falling on him. It continued after the play, when Easley jawed at McCarron, and Alabama's quarterback didn't back down. McCarron came back with a few choice words of his own, then turned to a group of Alabama fans seated behind the UA bench, gesturing to pump them up. "Nothing big," McCarron said. "That's just between me and (Easley). We'll leave that on the field."
"The goal tonight was to attack and be aggressive from the very start," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "At the beginning we were maybe too hyped up. It really shows the resiliency of our team."
The coaching staff did a fine job of settling down a team that was too hyped at the beginning of the game. Some adjustments early in the game were critical. "They did a good job in the beginning of the game with some of their formations with two tight ends," Saban said of the Gators. "We always see something a little different, and our guys did a good job of adjusting to it."
And, of course, there was the Crimson Tide's defense. While it allowed a big play or two, it also delivered big plays. The Gators simply could not run the football. After two early scores, Alabama's defense slammed the door in Florida's face. The game turned in the Crimson Tide's favor for one simple reason -- it is built for the long haul. The final 28-point margin speaks volumes as to the authenticity of Alabama as a complete team, one unruffled by an opponent's occasional big plays or early advantage.
Even with a slow start Saturday night, Alabama continued to be a strong first-half team. The Crimson Tide rallied from a 10-3 deficit to take a 24-10 halftime lead. It now has outscored five opponents 102-20 in first halves this season, including 47-0 in second quarters. The Tide has scored 17 or more points in the first half of each of its past nine games.
"We just wanted to prove we were a good defense," Upshaw said. "We heard a lot about their offense. Their running game was supposed to be the best. We just wanted to come out and prove what we can do."
The first 10 minutes couldn't have gone much better for Florida in Saturday night's game with Alabama, leading 10-3 in the early moments. Then came reality. Those final 50 minutes were pretty brutal. Not only did Florida lose its first game in five contests, 38-10, but the Gators may have also lost their season when quarterback John Brantley was helped off the field before halftime and later taken to the hospital for X-rays for a right leg injury.
Alabama, which entered with the No. 2 defense in Division I-A, allowed 15 rushing yards and 207 passing. Brantley was 11-of-16 for 190 yards and one interception. Rainey and Jeff Demps were held to a combined 8 rushing yards. "I give a lot of credit to Alabama," Rainey said. Florida entered No. 4 in defense but was unable to contain Trent Richardson, who ran 29 times for 181 of Alabama's 226 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Alabama's A.J. McCarron was 12-of-25 for 140 yards.
This time, the Alabama Death Star landed in an inflamed Swamp Saturday night and once again doused Florida's football fire. Florida may have a new coach, but Alabama still knows how to give the Gators an old-fashioned SEC seal-clubbing. The Crimson Tide knocked Florida quarterback John Brantley out of the game, suffocated UF's vaunted running attack and hushed the second-largest crowd in Gator football history. In the last three seasons, the Gators have been unbeaten when facing Alabama and each time they've been Swamp-stomped by scores of 32-13, 31-3 and now 38-10.
Alabama scored 35 unanswered points, and got a career-high 29 carries and 181 yards, including two touchdowns, from junior Trent Richardson -- his fourth straight 100-yard plus rushing performance. It was the Crimson Tide's first win at The Swamp since a 40-39 overtime victory in 1999.
In the second half, the Florida defense forced Alabama to punt on its first three drives but the offense struggled. The Gators had just 38 yards of offense in the third quarter. Trent Richardson extended Alabama's lead with his second touchdown of the day, running it in from 36 yards out early in the fourth quarter to make it 31-10. Later in the quarter, Eddie Lacy's 20-yard touchdown run pushed the Tide's lead to four touchdowns. "Again, I was disappointed from the standpoint, we’re going into halftime, it’s a 24-10 game, we’re in field-goal range. I thought we’d get at least three there and you’re down 11 with a turnover returned for a touchdown, so you feel good about where we are at that point in the game," said Muschamp.