Does Saban see a lot of himself as a young coach in Muschamp? "I can't jump up and down on the sidelines any more like he does," Saban said. "I can tell you that. Will probably, of all the guys that we have had on our staff through the years, probably worked the hardest, did the best job, had the most passion, was probably as well liked by the players as anyone. "You go from college to pro ball and he actually called defenses in Miami for a year. Those pro players aren't very accepting of a guy, if he hasn't coached in the league before. It didn't take them long to gain full respect and confidence in Will because of the knowledge that he has and how thorough he is. I think that all players really appreciate when you help them play better. He is a good teacher, and he does a great job. "It's been so long since I've been a young guy that I can't even remember, but I was a little volatile at the time too. I hope a little less volatile now."
Florida quarterback John Brantley said his ribs are a little tender but he's otherwise in perfect health for Saturday's showdown with third-ranked Alabama. That's encouraging news for the 12th-ranked Gators, because facing one of the nation's top defenses with Brantley at less than full strength would give them almost no chance of upsetting the Crimson Tide. "That happens. That's football," Brantley said of the shot he took to the left side of his body late in the first half of UF's 48-10 victory over Kentucky last Saturday. "Just a little sore. "We're all healthy now, and we're looking forward to this upcoming game."
Muschamp said the backs have handled the increased workload well to this point in the year. He and his staff are looking to counteract the negative effects of Demps and Rainey’s immense involvement by limiting the number of hits they take in practice. Each wears a non-contact jersey for the majority of the week, keeping them fresh for game action. "Those are two of our better playmakers, so they’re going to touch the ball," Muschamp said. "We’re going to do what we need to do to win the game."
Saban said the Gators are still dangerous in space and on perimeter runs and create difficult matchups. "They’re not the typical zone option, sort of spread, Mississippi State, old Florida," he said. "It’s not that. But they do a great job of featuring the talent and the players that they have and what they do well, which I always thought Florida’s old offense did that as well. "Even though it’s a little different style, they’re still featuring the same players doing things that they’re very, very good at."
Dont'a Hightower isn't quite sure what to make of this new Florida offense, where the Gators are leading the league in rushing and have the tailbacks to thank for it. "These last couple of years, you haven't seen too many guys come out and put up big numbers like that that's not Tim Tebow or Percy Harvin from Florida," said Hightower, a linebacker for No. 3 Alabama.
"I think the focus for the players should be, ‘what can I do to be a better player," Saban said, "and what do I need to do to help myself be a more consistent player, play smarter, as well as make my unit more effective by more consistency’ and everybody doing their job together so that we don’t have any negative plays, bad plays, missed assignments, things that we control."
No, you weren't hallucinating*: At last, Texas A&M is officially joining the SEC, swelling its ranks to 13 members next year. The Aggies held a "Kick-off Celebration" tonight in College Station to ring in the occasion. They're all the way in. When they wake up tomorrow, they're going to start working with the SEC on the logistics of running a 13-team conference, and one thing is going to become abundantly clear: They're going to need to get to 14 teams, pronto, before the schedule-makers come down with vertigo.