TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama’s matchup with Florida this weekend wasn’t pretty, but the Crimson Tide pulled away. Nick Saban’s squad shook off a bevy of turnovers to beat the Gators 42-21. Here are three thoughts from the game:
1. Blake Sims and Amari Cooper are one tough tandem
Maybe Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin deserves a little bit of credit. It looks like the Crimson Tide might have the SEC’s most lethal passing duo.
Sims, who had previously been locked in a quarterback competition with Jake Coker, looked like the clear leader of Bama’s offense. He went 23-of-33 for 445 yards with four touchdowns, 335 and three of which came before the half. Sims appeared to injure his shoulder late in the third quarter, but he returned to the field after being examined in the locker room.
Still, Cooper was the star of this one, and he looks more like a Heisman Trophy contender with each passing week. Cooper made 10 catches for 201 yards with three scores, setting a school record with 20 career touchdown receptions. Cooper had 736 receiving yards in 2013. He has 655 through four games in ‘14.
There is plenty of season left, but this much is clear: Alabama’s offense looks mighty dangerous when Sims and Cooper are clicking.
2. Alabama couldn’t get out of its own way
The Crimson Tide did themselves no favors early in Saturday’s game. Were it not for an inept Florida offense, Alabama could’ve handed this win to the Gators.
Bama turned the ball over a whopping four times in the first half, including three fumbles in the opening quarter. In fact, Florida scored all three of its touchdowns off Crimson Tide turnovers. Without Alabama’s gift-wrapped scoring opportunities, coach Will Muschamp’s offense was unable to generate any sort of threat.
The Tide would’ve had this game well in hand by halftime if not for their mistakes.
3. The Gators need much more from Jeff Driskel
Muschamp spoke at length this offseason about how improved Driskel would be in 2014. But the passer looked lost against Bama, and so did the Gators’ offense.
Driskel went 9-of-28 for 93 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against a stout Alabama front seven. He overthrew open receivers and spoiled several opportunities with turnovers. Looking to break a 14-14 tie in the first quarter, Driskel was picked off by Jabriel Washington at the Alabama 39-yard line. Bama intercepted Driskel again as the Gators were mounting a drive in the fourth quarter, a miscue that effectively ended Florida’s shot at a comeback.
The Gators’ run game wasn’t much help, and Florida was outgained 654 yards to 200. Muschamp clearly has a lot of work to do with his field general.