GAINESVILLE -- Florida plays Alabama in 12 days. The final countdown begins right now.
I realize that the Gators play Kentucky on Saturday. I'm going to ignore that game for the most part this week and focus on what really matters for the Gators. And what really matters for the Gators hasn't really changed since Dec. 5, 2009. That's when running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson took control of the Southeastern Conference and thumped Florida 32-13 in the SEC championship game. Like I was saying, Florida plays Alabama in 12 days.
I realize it's the players' jobs to play "one game at a time." I asked UF running back Jeff Demps on Saturday after Florida 31, Tennessee 17 if the Gators could defeat Alabama right now. "No comment," he said. Well, I'm not a player, so I don't really care about nonsense like that. All bets are off when the opponent between now and Alabama is Kentucky. Florida is 23-0 against Kentucky since 1986!
Did anyone notice a change in the Gators' defense last Saturday? UF used a five-linemen formation on defense throughout the game. The new look stuffed Tennessee's talented running backs. That same formation likely will be used in attempt to contain Kentucky running back Derrick Locke on Saturday. Or, put another way, Saturday's game against Kentucky will be the new formation's second dress rehearsal before No.9 Florida plays No.1 Alabama at 8 p.m. on Oct.2
Featured in the new defensive package on Saturday were defensive ends Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou and defensive tackles Jaye Howard, Terron Sanders and Omar Hunter. The five-man front plays to UF's defensive strength, which is depth at defensive tackle. Obviously, that's where Alabama will be running the ball.
Check tomorrow's paper for a more in-depth story on this subject with stats and perspectives from UF coaches and players. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves: Can UF's new defensive line contain Alabama's backfield combination of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson?