College Game of the Week: Gators @ Crimson Tide
Our third installment of the PFF College Game of the Week started out with some excitement as a turnover-laden first half kept things close between the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide, but Alabama pulled away after dominating the game offensively.
Depending on which side you’re on, it was either an outstanding display of skills players at work, breaking and avoiding tackles, or is was simply a putrid defensive effort that saw Florida miss 30 tackles. Either way, Alabama moved the ball with ease behind quarterback Blake Sims’ downfield throwing and the running back duo of Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon, both of whom simply refused to go down on first contact.
Alabama scored the last 21 points of the game to seal the 42-21 vicotry in a game that was much more one-sided than the score would indicate.
Here’s a look at the key performances from this SEC battle.
Florida Gators – Performances of Note
Breakdown: It’s hard to single out one player when the defense misses 30 (!) tackles on the day. Three Gators missed four apiece, including linebacker Michael Taylor, cornerback Brian Poole, and safety Jabari Gorman. Whether out in space in the passing game or in a confined quarters in the running game, Florida defenders had a very difficult time bringing the ball carrier to the ground.
Signature Stat: Safety Marcus Maye was the only Florida starter not charged with an official missed tackle.
Jeff Driskel, QB: -3.7
Breakdown: With a new offense intact, Driskel was supposed to be primed for a breakout season. Instead, he’s still struggling with his accuracy down the field and it proved costly in this one. While he was hurt by a few mishaps by his receivers, he was never in rhythm and he rarely put together two or three good plays in a row. Driskel was dangerously high at times and Alabama’s defense took advantage with two interceptions.
Signature Stat: Driskel was 2-for-16 for 45 yards on passes thrown at least 10 yards down the field.
Roderick Johnson, RT: +3.6
Breakdown: With starting left tackle D.J. Humphries injured and right tackle Chaz Green sliding over to the left side, Johnson stepped in and performed admirably. He graded at +1.6 in pass protection and +1.8 as a run blocker. The redshirt freshman was Florida’s best lineman on the day.
Signature Play: Johnson surrendered only one pressure on 34 pass blocking attempts.
Alabama Crimson Tide – Performances of Note
Landon Collins, SS: +6.9
Breakdown: Collins made plays all over the field, making plays whether lined up deep as a free safety or around the line of scrimmage as a strong safety. He picked up two stops in the running game, but it was his play at free safety that really stood out. Whether it was ensuring an incompletion but knocking WR Latroy Pittman out of bounds, or deflecting two passes, or making a one-handed interception, Collins’ +5.5 coverage grade was well-earned.
Signature Plays: Collins made Driskel pay when he threw to the middle of the field, knocking away two passes down the seam and making the one-handed interception in the third quarter.
Amari Cooper, WR: +4.9
Breakdown: Cooper’s matchup with Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves got all of the headlines and while it was a good back-and-forth battle, it was Cooper who left Saturday’s game with Heisman hype. He finished with 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and that doesn’t include a negated 30-yarder to kick off the second half. His 79-yard touchdown against a busted coverage was probably the least-impressive touchdown of the day as he caught the other two on end zone fades. He outmuscled Hargreaves for one score and then lost Poole with a nifty move off the line for his third TD of the day.
Signature Stat: Including the negated 30-yarder, Cooper was targeted seven times when matched up with Hargreaves, catching six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Cam Robinson, LT: +6.1
Breakdown: Just a true freshman, Robinson looked like a veteran in his first SEC game. He held his own against potential first round pick defensive end Dante Fowler finishing at +1.6 in pass protection. As impressive as that is, it was Robinson’s +3.6 run blocking that helped pave the way for Alabama’s 234 rushing yards.
Signature Plays: On one drive in the fourth quarter, Robinson did it all, knocking Fowler about five yards off the ball on one run, then getting out in front with a nice screen block. He then climbed to the second level to wall off linebacker Antonio Morrison, and capped it off by opening up the back side of a run with a cut block.
PFF Game Ball
While the Alabama offense dominated the game, it was safety Landon Collins who stole the show and put his first round potential on display.
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