3 Things You Should Know about the Florida Gators
In what has become a regular tradition on the first Saturday of December, the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide faces the No. 15 Florida Gators from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Crimson Tide and Gators go toe-to-toe for the ninth time in SEC Championship Game history with the two teams splitting the prior eight meetings.
As kickoff approaches for the final SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome, discover the three things you need to know about the Florida Gators.
Over the past 25 years, Florida gained a reputation for high octane offenses under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. Since Tim Tebow’s final season at quarterback in 2009 and Urban Meyer’s departure in 2010, the offense has progressively fallen off the map.
During Jim McElwain’s first season as Florida’s head coach, the Gators averaged 23.2 points per game. This season, Florida ranks 11th out of 14 SEC teams scoring 24.1 points per game. Since their 40-14 win against Missouri, the Gators have scored 16.6 points per game and have managed just six offensive touchdowns.
At the heart of their issues on offense has been the uncertainty at quarterback. For the third straight season, Florida has started their backup signal caller for at least three games. While Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio began the season as the opening game starter, Purdue transfer Austin Appleby has filled in due to injuries to Del Rio.
SEC’s Top Passing Defense
In contrast to a lackluster offense, Florida has one of the top overall defenses in the SEC including the conference’s top pass defense.
The Gators allow 158 yards per game through the air and have limited opposing quarterbacks to a 45.8 completion percentage, the second lowest among FBS teams. Seven of Florida’s opponents have failed to reach 150 yards passing in game this season.
Leading the pass defense is junior cornerback Teez Tabor. Tabor leads the Gators with four interceptions including a pick six against Missouri.
Punter Johnny Townsend
While Alabama’s J.K. Scott has set the standard for punters in the SEC since 2014, redshirt junior punter Johnny Townsend has been a valuable asset to the Florida special teams.
Townsend averages 47.6 yards per punt which trails only J.K. Scott for the SEC lead in punting and is third in the FBS among punters. He has placed 23 punts inside the 20-yard line and has booted almost half his punts (19 of 42) for over 50 yards.