Alabama Panel: Florida
With the two missed games, is Mark Ingram legitimately in the Heisman race?
Kenny Freeman: With what he has done in two games, and the fact he won it last year, he would have to be considered. I have not been keeping up with it but I am sure there are several ahead of him, but keep an eye on him to make a strong push in the next few weeks.
Shannon Ferguson: Sure he’s still in the Heisman race! He returned to the mix after leading Bama to a win over Arkansas last week. I think if he has a good game against Florida he will probably be back at the top of the list in the No. 2 spot. But Ingram is going to have a hard time knocking Terrelle Pryor out of the top spot.
Roger Hoggle: Yes he is back in the conversation. Right now he is behind Pryor from OSU and Robinson from Michigan. I think if he continues on this pace, averaging over 100 a game, he’ll be in New York when they give out the Heisman. I’m not sure he can win it twice, unless the two ahead of him stumble, but he’ll be a top contender.
What should Alabama do differently in the punt return department?
Kenny Freeman: I say leave the punt returners alone and get some better blocking.
Shannon Ferguson: I knew Bama was going to have a hard time replacing Arenas and special teams is a tender spot for us. I would keep letting Richardson and Jones return punts but I would even see what Lacy has to offer in that position. On a lighter note, Robert Lester is on fire right now maybe we need to see what he can offer!
Roger Hoggle: We need to get more of a block up front to give the returner that extra second to catch the ball then see the field and make his cut. Javier (Arenas) could do this without hesitation, but he did a lot on his own in the return game. I would like to see Maze and Kirkpatrick returning punts.
Does the Alabama-Florida game still have the same intensity and buzz it had going into the last two meetings?
Kenny Freeman: Maybe not for everybody, but you can bet your last dollar it does for Alabama with the No. 1 ranking on the line.
Shannon Ferguson: These two teams are the defining rivalry in the SEC so you know the intensity is definitely there. This match-up is always a big game played out in the media and the ballfield no matter what their records are and more than likely we will see these two schools in Atlanta fighting it out for the SEC title.
Roger Hoggle: They are still the team to beat in the SEC East and will more than likely be in the SEC championship game once again. This has become the best rivalry in the SEC since the inception of the championship game. No two other teams have been in that game more than Alabama and Florida so, of course, the intensity is still there whenever you play Florida.
What concerns you most about Alabama’s play so far?
Kenny Freeman: In my mind it is no doubt, the youth on defense. With the mistakes Alabama made against Arkansas, it is obvious they need a few more games under their belt, I just hope we can hold on until that time comes.
Shannon Ferguson: My major concern is still our defense. I’m hoping with the changes this week where Jerrell Harris was moved to the outside and switching Nico Johnson and Hightower we’ll see more big plays. We have got to be ready for Florida when they run the wildcat. Also I’m still waiting on Dareus to have that breakout performance.
Roger Hoggle: Defensive line is still an issue. We are giving the quarterback too much time to throw the ball, and the secondary is still meshing and learning the system. Also, playing in the SEC where six teams are in the Top 25, every week is a concern.
What is your final score and key player prediction for this week?
Kenny Freeman: Key players this week, everybody involved in the running game, Bama needs to control the clock and keep Florida off the field. Score – Alabama 27, Florida 17.
Shannon Ferguson: My key player this week is Greg McElroy. He has got to play smart ball! He not only has to be a team leader this week but a game changer as well. 27-20 Bama!
Roger Hoggle: 35-28 Alabama, and I look for McElroy to turn things around after a sub par performance this past week.