TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The University of Alabama football team was back on the practice field Tuesday, beginning its quest to stop No. 5 Florida, who enters Saturday's game with the top offense in the Southeastern Conference.
The Crimson Tide come in to the game with the fifth-ranked defense in the conference and has held each of their last two opponents to under 100 yards passing. The Gators will be a tough test, averaging 465.5 yards per game, which ranks ninth in the country. The passing attack, led by senior quarterback Chris Leak, is also ninth in the nation and leads the SEC at 289.8 yards per contest. Leak has a pass efficiency of 173.77, fourth in the country and has a consistent target in Dallas Baker, who is averaging 101.5 receiving yards per game.
"This is one of the hottest offenses in the country right now," said Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines. "If there is a better system out there, I would be hard-pressed to find it. I have never seen a system that has all the parts of football; the power, the zone, the option, play action, the empty, five wideouts, short yardage, two tight ends, I don't think there is a part of football they don't cover. They cover the whole gamut."
Alabama is coming off its first loss of the season, a 24-23 setback in double overtime at Arkansas. The Crimson Tide secondary has been impressive so far, leading the defense to eight interceptions, second only to Western Michigan with nine. Simeon Castille leads the group with three interceptions while Lionel Mitchell and Jeffrey Dukes each have two picks. The defense has forced a total of 12 turnovers this season, which is third in the country behind East Carolina and Rutgers. On the other hand, John Parker Wilson and the Alabama offense has only turned the ball over five times with just one interception.
"Our secondary has really come a long ways," said Kines. "From the first game where everybody was really nervous with all the yards we gave up, those youngsters have come to work everyday and are going to continue to get better. They are willing to work and willing to do the things it takes on the practice field. That group will just get better over the next couple of years."
Saturday will be the first time Alabama has played at Florida since 1999 when the Crimson Tide emerged victorious in overtime, 40-39. This weekend's game in Gainesville is slated to begin at 2:30 CT and will be televised by CBS.