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Alabama Crimson Tide Defensive Backs vs. Florida Gators Wide Receivers

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After some uncertainty in the first game of the season versus West Virginia, it looked like the Alabama secondary was finally shaping into form against FAU. Cornerback Eddie Jackson, recovering from a spring knee injury, did not participate in the WVU game. However, the sophomore had an exceptional game against the Owls with good coverage, solid tackling, and a caused fumble to boot.

During Saturday's game against Southern Miss, Jackson exited the game early on with a bruised quadriceps, but his removal from the game is not believed to be serious.

"We just chose not to play guys anymore in this particular game," Nick Saban said. "Gives other people an opportunity to play and why put the guys at risk when you're getting ready to head into league play?"

Jackson should return to start the Florida game but the Tide will be without safety Jarrick Williams who is still nursing a foot injury and safety Nick Perry who was flagged in the USM game for a questionable targeting call and will miss the first half .

Saban went on to say that true freshman Tony Brown should get more playing time Saturday against Florida.

"Tony's definitely improving, definitely getting better," Saban said after Wednesday's practice. "I think the opportunities that he's had to play in the last two games have been good for his development and his confidence. He will play a lot in this game."

Brown has been practicing with the first team opposite junior corner Cyrus Jones who has started all three games.

While there are many concerns with this unit, one of the biggest issues has to be the lack of takeaways. The defense has yet to record an interception and have recovered only the aforementioned fumble forced by Jackson. The Tide seems to be lacking in the ball hawks of recent teams. The early departure of safety Vinnie Sunseri to the NFL undoubtedly left a big hole in that department.

Landon Collins is a future NFL player but truth be told, he has not made any big game-changing plays so far this season. He leads the team in tackles (12 solos, 15 assist) as many safeties do but has no pass break-ups or passes defensed to his credit in three games. Likewise, star-safety Geno Smith has yet to record a stat other than tackles (4, 5). Unfortunately, the only highlight reel Nick Perry has made so far is getting trucked by FAU running back Jay Warren and the USM targeting penalty call.

FLORIDA GATORS RECEIVING CORPS

Against Kentucky, Gators QB Jeff Driskel has found a battery mate in Demarcus Robinson. The sophomore wide receiver hauled in a school-record-tying 15 passes for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Wildcats. He recorded 6 catches for 123 yards and a 70-yard score the week before against overmatched Eastern Michigan.

However, there is significant drop off in receiver output after Robinson. Kentucky often kept their base seven on the field essentially leaving a linebacker on the field to cover slot receiver Latroy Pittman for most of the game. Pittman was held to one 4-yard catch and also dropped a wide-open out route that would've converted a third-down on Florida's first drive of the game.

In the preseason, senior Quinton Dunbar was looked to as the key to the passing game but has not quite gotten going with only 2 catches for 7 yards against the Wildcats.

Florida will be without slot receiver in C.J. Worton who broke his hand in an off-field incident. A true freshman, Worton had impressed in fall camp and was looked to be a major contributor this fall.

Senior tight end Clay Burton has become a favorite target in short yardage situations. He has 9 catches for 56 yards. Florida, however, will be without tight end Jake McGee who is out for the season after breaking his tibia and fibula in the first half of the Gators season opener.

Florida only had one reception by a running back against Kentucky, a 14-yard catch by Matt Jones on a release out of the backfield that netted a key first down.

NAME REC YDS AVG LONG TD
Demarcus Robinson 21 339 16.1 70 (TD) 3
Quinton Dunbar 7 88 12.6 42 0
Mark Herndon 1 78 78 78 (TD) 1
Clay Burton 9 56 6.2 9 0
Ahmad Fulwood 6 37 6.2 9 0
Tevin Westbrook 2 25 12.5 15 1
Latroy Pittman, Jr. 4 24 6 8 0
Matt Jones 3 23 7.7 14 1
Mack Brown 2 10 5 8 0
C.J. Worton 1 8 8 8 0
Valdez Showers 1 3 3 3 0
Totals 58 691 11.9 78 6

SUMMARY

Expect to see Alabama to play a lot of man-on-man and challenge the wide receivers to beat them. The Gators open the game with some short crossing routes with plenty of deep balls sprinkled in. Until the Tide secondary can prove they can stop Robinson, Driskel will be looking for #11 in all parts of the field.