"They looked a lot faster than we did today." - Urban Meyer
Our program has no shortage of iconic moments. They're plentiful enough and ingrained in our collective consciousness to the point where they have nicknames like "The Run in the Mud," 'The Goal Line Stand," "The Kick," "The Sack," "The Catch," etc. Whether you were alive or not when those legendary plays took place, chances are, as an Alabama fan you can conjure up an image of those plays instantly merely by hearing the nickname of the play. You'll remember how the play unfolded, the players involved, who the opponent was, etc.
There are certainly many moments in Alabama history, that perhaps while not iconic, are at the very least great, important and/or memorable. That's what we're aiming to show you here over the next several Monday mornings leading up to the kickoff of the 2011 season: great moments, big plays, well executed plays, etc. that you might or might not remember and, while not legendary, certainly were great in their own right and deserve to live again in our memories.
With all of that in mind, we're going to kick things off with a play from 2005 against Florida.
We all remember the massive beat down Alabama delivered to Florida that sunny October afternoon in Tuscaloosa: a 31-3 drubbing that very few saw coming. Florida came into the contest at 4-0 and ranked #5 in the country with rising coaching star Urban Meyer at the helm in his first road game in the SEC. Alabama was also 4-0 and ranked #15 after defeating Arkansas and South Carolina along with Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee State. Alabama had lost its last five games against Top 5 ranked opponents at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and few expected that streak to be snapped that afternoon.
Brodie Croyle unfortunately spent much of his Alabama career injured: shoulder injury, torn ACL, broken ribs, etc. He had an absolute cannon of an arm and unfortunately was never able to fully realize his potential between the injuries and often having to run for his life behind the blocking of lackluster lines. On this day, however, it all came together. Croyle turned in a memorable performance going 14 of 17 for 283 yards and 3 TDs. Alabama lit up the scoreboard, got the "Top 5" monkey off of its back at BDS and snapped Urban Meyer's personal 20 game winning streak (between Utah and Florida.) This game also fully introduced Urban to road life in the SEC. Who will ever forget the look on his face during Rammer Jammer that afternoon?
Defensively, Alabama got off to a great start. Mark Anderson sacked Chris Leak for a five yard loss on the first play of the game and Florida proceeded to go three and out. Tyrone Prothro fumbled the punt though and Florida recovered. Despite their good fortune, the Gators thankfully found themselves going three and out again. Prothro secured the punt this time making a fair catch at the Alabama 13.
On their first play of the game, the Alabama offense lines up and delivered a massive blow to the vaunted Florida defense with an 87 yard touchdown pass to Prothro. Prothro got good separation on Florida cornerback Vernell Brown and Croyle delivered an absolute strike from about 50 yards away. Brown made an attempt at a diving tackle, but couldn't bring down Prothro who sprinted the remaining 35 yards or so untouched. 1 play, 13 seconds, 87 yards. Touchdown Alabama....and as it turns out: ballgame.
Meyer had this to say about the performance of the Alabama offense:
"We are a man-coverage team and we were exposed. We lost a lot of one-on-one battles. They are a very fast team. They looked a lot faster than we did today."
Let's watch the play shall we:
Alabama went on that day to several other big plays including a 65 yard TD pass to Keith Brown as well as a goal line stand in the second quarter that, had they converted, might've gotten Florida back in the game. This spectacular TD set the tone for a victory that was one of Alabama's most significant in quite some time. This was the first of three defeats Meyer suffered at the hands of Alabama, though it wasn't the last time a Meyer coached Florida team would fail to find the endzone at Bryant-Denny Stadium.