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September 28, 2010

Alabama, Florida use wildcat in very different ways

TUSCALOOSA _ One of the advantages of having an offense that runs a wildcat formation is that its defense gets to see it every day.

Of course, no one else has a running back combination like the University of Alabama's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson ...

"We get a dose of what every other team has to face," linebacker Courtney Upshaw said.

Saturday, both defenses may see their fair share of it when Alabama hosts Florida, although the teams use it in very different ways.

Last week Florida essentially set Trey Burton loose on the college football world as he scored six touchdowns, rushing for five and throwing one. Although the freshman quarterback also lined up at tight end and receiver, as Urban Meyer's staff has obviously been looking for ways to get him on the field, he ran out of the wildcat sort of like what Tim Tebow did. Meanwhile, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed 24 of 35 passes for 248 yards.

In contrast, Alabama hasn't attempted a pass yet out of the formation this season, running 20 plays for 108 yards. The longest gain of 19 yards occurred last week at Arkansas on an end run, but the Crimson Tide also used it to try and run out of the clock.

"We're fortunate to have a couple of really good runners," Coach Nick Saban said. "The offensive line does a really good job. I think you're adding a gap to the defense when you do this because somebody has to cover the quarterback. Even though he's not going to get the ball, somebody has to cover him. Therefore you create a little bit of a running advantage for yourself, even though they know what's coming. That's been a very effective tool for us in the last two years."

A CBS announcer said during last week's broadcast that the Alabama coaches claim to have 11 different looks out of the wildcat. Fans have already seen the Bobcat, with wide receiver Marquis Maze taking the snap, and the (Brad) Smelley-cat during A-Day.

The Tide also ran a trick play resulting in a 50-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones against Arkansas last year, and Ingram attempted a pass that was incomplete.

Generally, though, the way Alabama and Florida use the wildcat is reflective of their approaches in general: Florida with misdirection and speed and Alabama using power and wearing down opponent. In both cases, the competition has to spend time preparing for it.

Here's a breakdown of Ingram's and Richardson's rushing numbers this season:

Ingram
Wildcat: 15 carries-83 yards
Pistol: 14-214
Shotgun: 6-34
Under center: 5-10

Richardson
Pistol: 24-197
Under center: 10-48
Wildcat: 9-37
Shotgun: 4-74


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