Intensity rises as Gators come to UA

Sophomore running back Trent Richardson runs the ball in Alabama's 24-20 victory over Arkansas last week. Richardson, a Florida native, said after Wednesday's practice that he wants to prove the Crimson Tide is as fast as Florida when the Gators come to town Saturday. / CW | Katie Bennett

One thing Alabama head coach Nick Saban said about the Crimson Tide’s narrow escape in Fayetteville, Ark., was that his team did not play with enough intensity early on in the game.

Intensity will most likely not be a problem for the Tide on Saturday, as the team has had the Florida game circled on its schedule since it came out.

“It is Alabama-Florida, it is why you come to Alabama to play football,” center William Vlachos said. “I can’t remember the last time Florida was down and didn’t win a bunch of games.”

Alabama will need to be focused to avoid climbing into another early hole against a talented Gator team. Vlachos said the Tide has learned from its slow start last week against Arkansas.

“I think last week was a wake-up call,” Vlachos said. “It was definitely a lesson for us, but the fortunate thing about that lesson is that we came out with a win.”

To some, this game holds a different meaning. Sophomore running back Trent Richardson not only played a key role in Alabama’s SEC championship win, he also hails from Pensacola, Fla.

“I just look at it like there is a lot of my boys there,” Richardson said. “I’m from Florida and there are a lot of boys I played with there. I wish the best of luck to them, but we got to play on Saturday. They are my defender and I’ve got to go hard on them.”

Different strokes for different folks

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are widely known as two of the most successful coaches in college football. While their record and number of BCS National Champions might be similar, their offenses certainly aren’t. There is quite a difference between the fast-paced spread attack of Florida and the bruising downhill play of Alabama.

“I’m sure there are a lot of fans out there that like to see the wide open sort of run-and-shoot style that the spread emulates,” Saban said. “But everybody has got to choose philosophically what they think is important to give their players the best chance to win.”

With many schools moving towards more of a spread-style offense, Alabama’s pro-style offense has been a factor in recruiting athletes who did not run a spread offense in high school. Richardson, who decided to attend Alabama over Florida in the recruiting process, said the offense at Alabama suited him more than other schools.

“We ran the I-formation in high school,” Richardson said “It was really the same [as Alabama] because we ran power and the outside bone and stuff like that. It was all the same for me. That’s why it was so easy for me to catch on to the offense.”

Florida’s high-paced spread attack has gotten the Gators a lot of recognition as a fast team. Though the Alabama offense is not as spread out as the Florida offense, Richardson said he is out to prove that Alabama has speed as well.

“It’s more personal to me than anything,” Richardson said. “I got a lot of my boys from back home and a lot of my family on to me about this game, [saying], ‘Y’all are not going to be as fast.’ I do have a chip on my shoulder to show those boys that we’re not slow over here either.”