The Crimson Tide and Gators are scheduled for a 3:10 p.m. CT kickoff on CBS
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team worked in shells for an hour and 15 minutes at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility on Monday afternoon.
Alabama began a new week of practice after taking down rival Auburn, 30-12, in last weekend’s Iron Bowl to close out the regular season. The Crimson Tide now turns its focus to this Saturday’s 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship Game against No. 15/16 Florida. The SEC Western Division champs will square off with the Gators, winners of the East, at 3:10 p.m. CT at the Georgia Dome. The game will air live on CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce calling the action.
The Gators enter the postseason matchup with an 8-3 overall record and a 6-2 mark in league play to earn the conference’s Eastern Division title. Most recently, Florida suffered a non-conference loss to in-state rival Florida State by a score of 31-13 on Saturday. The Gators are 18-7 under second-year head coach Jim McElwain, who has a five-year career record of 40-23.
Alabama and Florida will meet for the 40th time in the series, with the Crimson Tide owning the all-time advantage, 25-14 (26-14 actual). In the most recent matchup at the 2015 SEC Championship Game, Alabama came away with a 29-15 victory over Florida. Derrick Henry rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown on his way to MVP honors while Jake Coker threw for 204 yards and two scores.
The two teams will meet for the ninth time in SEC Championship Game history and the fourth time in the past 11 years. The Crimson Tide (11) and Gators (12) lead the league for most conference championship game appearances and have squared off the most of any opponent with the next closest matchup being LSU and Georgia, who have met three times in the history of the SEC title game.
Nick Saban met with the media on Monday afternoon. Following is his opening statement:
“Well not to belabor the point, but I think that as I said yesterday in the conference call, I was really pleased with how our team played in the second half (against Auburn). (There were) a lot of things that we didn’t execute really well in the first half, and all of those things were correctable things that we are going to address with the players and try to clean up so that we don’t have those issues in the future.
“We are really excited that Cam Robinson was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and you got our players of the week, but this game is really where our focus is.
“This is the SEC Championship Game, which is one of the most competitive environments that I have had to play in – (especially) against a very good Florida team. There is great tradition and history with both of the teams in this game, which have tradition and history in this game. This is the 25th championship game, and as I said yesterday, to have coach (Steve) Spurrier and coach (Gene) Stallings there, who played in the first championship game, is really sort of something special.
“I think coach Jim McElwain has done a really good job in his time there. They have gotten better and better each year and certainly won games that they had to win to get there and have this opportunity. They have a very good defense, they are one of the best defense teams in the country; a very good man-to-man team on the back-end, a very dominant front seven in term of their down guys up front; their ability to rush behind the line of scrimmage. Offensively, they try to create great balance with their team this year. Their ability to run the ball – they have had a couple of backs that have helped contribute to that. I think Antonio Callaway and Brandon Powell, the two receivers that they have, are certainly guys that they want to get the ball to that have the ability to make explosive plays. When they have been able to do that, they have done very well of offense. They are very strong on special teams. They have very strong specialists, whether it’s returners, punters, or a kicker. They are all very effective and very good, and it’s going to be a challenging game for us.”