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Thursday, December 09, 2021

Gators prepared for incoming Tide

Florida has had the matchup with the top-ranked Tide circled all offseason

<p>Florida defensive end Zachary Carter tackles a USF ball carrier on Sept. 11. Carter will look to add to his three sacks this season this Saturday versus Alabama. </p>

Florida defensive end Zachary Carter tackles a USF ball carrier on Sept. 11. Carter will look to add to his three sacks this season this Saturday versus Alabama.

After two early season victories against inferior opponents, the No. 13 Florida Gators face their first test of 2021 against the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday. The Tide storms into The Swamp off blowout wins over the Miami Hurricanes and Mercer, and the top team in the country opens as 15-point favorites in Gainesville. 

Florida head coach Dan Mullen believes the backing of the Gator Nation is an advantage for the Gators.

“That's one of the things that make the SEC tough,” Mullen said. “You get that extra support from your fan base, and that energy and the fans, making it difficult…  I think it's going to be a great atmosphere on Saturday here in The Swamp and probably the best atmosphere in college football.”

Edge rusher Zachary Carter agreed with Mullen and said a full Ben Hill Griffin Stadium can even get to the best teams. 

“I know it's a sellout crowd, 90,000, that could probably rattle anybody, you know, veteran or young guys,” Carter said. “I'm expecting the crowd to really help juice up and energize the defense this weekend.”

Up until now, Florida has been adamant it has taken the season one game at a time, but the redshirt senior said the team has been talking about Saturday all offseason.

“This is why you come to Florida to play in games like this,” Carter said. “I think there's no better way to start off than Alabama. We want to play with the best and compete with the best.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jacob Copeland said the team has used last year’s loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship as a motivating factor heading into the Week 3 matchup.

“We were close (last year), they just executed more than us,” Copeland said. “We have to take that to the chin and build off that for next year, so that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we did during camp and the offseason. Now we’re here.”

In order to compete with the top-ranked Tide, the Gators defense will have to contain Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. The sophomore has completed 70.8% of his passes for 571 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two starts. Carter called Young an elusive quarterback and complimented his pocket presence.

“I feel like this we have to do a good job with our rush lanes and just keeping in mind trying to cage him in the pocket,” Carter said.

While Carter looks to add to his three sacks, the Florida offense looks to continue to put points up on the board. It tallied 77 points in the first two games of the season against Florida Atlantic and South Florida, despite not showing a lot of its playbook. Mullen said the offense has kept it pretty simple the first few weeks of the season. He has previously mentioned having a package with both quarterbacks Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson on the field at the same time.

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“We haven't showed so much because we're like, ‘Hey, we can't expose our hand like that before you see (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban,’” Copeland said. 

The fireworks will start flying Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33.

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Michael Hull

Michael Hull is a third-year journalism major with a specialization in sports & media. He has a minor in business and leadership and is a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars fan.


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