Alabama hasn’t had a game this close since they played Florida last year in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
Nick Saban said last week that his teams needed to play a full 60 minutes hard and finish games off. His team did just that by winning a nail-biter 31-29 against the 11th ranked Gators.
This game came down to the wire and fans on both sides were entertained till the clock hit zero.
However, Alabama came out on top, and here are the three keys to Alabama getting it done in one of the toughest environments in all of college football.
Saban had his team ready
Coaching will always be the most important factor in almost any college football game. People like to say that it’s the player or the tradition, but if that were true, Saban wouldn’t be the best coach to ever coach college football.
Saban always has his coaches, as well as his players, ready to go for big games.
Schematics in games are important, but sometimes having players confident and in the right mindset is just as important as Xs and Os.
With last season being a pandemic year, a lot of the Tide players have not yet got to experience a packed-out SEC stadium. The Swamp was absolutely rocking, and Alabama could have come in overwhelmed and shell-shocked.
However, Saban made sure that wouldn’t be an issue. There was most likely extra loud crowd noise and music blasted through the speakers at practice to get the players ready for a game that they wouldn’t be able to hear in.
Bryce Young kept the ball safe
Bryce Young did not play like a first-year starter at all.
In a big game like this, Young would be given a few mulligans on poor decision-making, but he didn’t need any breaks from fans or his coach. He didn’t try to force anything or put the entire game on his shoulders.
He stayed within himself and most importantly took care of the ball. The inexperienced quarterback had zero turnovers in an impressive showing.
Young threw for 240 yards against a tough Gator defense. He also put three scores on the board with his arm.
Alabama got up on the Gators early
The Crimson Tide played well to start off the game and got out to an early lead. The defense did an amazing job of containing Florida signal caller Emory Jones.
Jones was forced to beat Bama with his arm instead of his legs. He wasn’t able to do that early on in the game and struggled heavily to get anything going on offense. The Tide defense was flying around, stalling out Florida’s drives.
Defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis, a Mobile native, even recorded an interception against Jones.
However, the Gator quarterback eventually stepped up in the second half and ended up with 195 passing yards. His ratio was as bad as it could have been with no touchdowns and one interception.
Alabama almost wound up losing the game by letting Florida ball out in the second half. Yet, the Tide getting out to an early lead was one of the most important pieces of the winning puzzle. By the time Florida settled into the game they were already down 21-9 at the half.
That is a tough climb back up, and the Gators still almost managed. The Crimson Tide did just enough to run out the clock and finish the game with a quality win over the 11th ranked team in the country.
The Tide get a slight break next week as they welcome the Southern Miss Golden Eagles into T-Town for a warm-up game before Ole Miss. The game will be a 6:30 p.m. start where Alabama can play under their flashing Crimson lights.
Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football and college basketball writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.