Alabama 31, Florida 3

The Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Florida Gators 31-3 this evening, for the first meaningful win in quite some time for a team that once was a perennial national championship contender.

No. 15 Alabama 31, No. 5 Florida 3 (Alabama SportsFlash)
Croyle throws three TDs, ‘Bama improves to 5-0 (ESPN)
Alabama Football Beats Florida 31-3 (RollTide.com)
Alabama looks dominant in 31-3 thumping of No. 5 Florida (USA Today)

(AP) With Brodie Croyle throwing two long touchdown passes and the defense producing a goal line stand and a bunch more big plays, No. 15 Alabama finally looked like a Southeastern Conference contender again. Croyle threw for three TDs, including an 88-yarder to Tyrone Prothro and a 65-yarder to Keith Brown, to lead the Crimson Tide to a 31-3 rout of No. 5 Florida on Saturday.

The Tide (5-0, 3-0) played like the league’s most dominating team while handing the Gators (4-1, 2-1) their first loss under coach Urban Meyer.

Alabama, which hadn’t beaten a top-five team at Bryant-Denny Stadium in five previous tries, got its biggest win since a 34-7 victory over Florida in the 1999 SEC championship game. Tide fans, who had been hungry for just such a victory since then, mostly remained in the stands well after the game’s conclusion celebrating as the players lingered on the field. The Gators had the league’s top defense overall and against the pass, but left having failed to even slow down Croyle until the game was long decided.

[…]

It was the Gators’ worst defeat since losing 36-7 to LSU in 2002 and ended Meyer’s personal 20-game winning streak at Utah and Florida.

Prothro was carted off the field with a splint on his lower left leg after landing awkwardly trying to catch a fourth-down pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. His status was not immediately available.

The Gators trailed 24-3 at halftime and couldn’t capitalize on Alabama’s one big mistake. Prothro fumbled away the punt after Alabama’s defense pinned Florida at its own 7 on the opening drive. After the Gators again failed to gain a yard before punting, Croyle hit Prothro in stride just across midfield for the long touchdown on the next play.

[…]

Croyle broke Alabama’s career record held by Andrew Zow and current coach Mike Shula’s career record of 35 touchdown passes with his 15-yarder to Prothro in the third quarter.

Alabama upsets Florida with a 31-3 whipping (RealFootball365)

The Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t simply upset the 5th ranked Florida Gators. They whipped their bitter SEC rivals 31-3.

Alabama was paced by the arm of Brodie Croyle and the legs of Kenneth Darby and Tyrone Prothro. Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, they may have lost Prothro for the season after he suffered a horrific injury to his ankle in the fourth quarter.

Sadly, all indications are that Prothro broke his ankle and is done for the season. It’s always a shame when a great athlete goes down but especially so when it happened in what amounted to garbage time.

After a season opening win over a hapless Middle Tennessee State team, noted that the Tide has a habit of going undefeated and winning a national championship every 13 years and that the last time that happened was 1992. The SEC is a brutal league and Alabama still has some big games coming up against LSU and on the road against Tennessee and Auburn–not to mention a possible league championship game and BCS bowl game. So, going undefeated would be a daunting task even with a healthy Tyrone Prothro.

Still, it’s nice to finally be able to dare to think about such things again. The Tide has been woeful by its standards for several years now. It’s nice to finally win a big game again.

Update (0027): Alabama’s Prothro likely out for season (AP)

Alabama receiver Tyrone Prothro broke his left leg against Florida and will likely miss the rest of the season. Prothro was carted off the field after being injured in the fourth quarter of the 31-3 victory over Florida on Saturday. Prothro landed awkwardly while attempting to catch a pass in the end zone on a fourth-down play with the Crimson Tide already leading 31-3 with just under 9 minutes left. A cart was almost immediately brought on the field as Prothro lay in the end zone.

“Anytime it happens to any of your players it empties your stomach,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said. “Hopefully he’ll make a speedy recovery. He had an impact on every game, even when he doesn’t touch the ball a lot. He can open things up for the other guys.”

[…]

His quarterback, Brodie Croyle, could relate. Croyle’s 2004 season ended with a torn knee ligament on the opening series of the second half in a blowout win over Western Carolina. “I told him it’s not the end of the world,” Croyle said.

Asked why Prothro was out there at that point, Croyle said, “We wanted to get one more touchdown. It didn’t work out. You can’t bring your starters out against the No. 5 team in the country with 11 minutes to go.”


Familiar question irks Tide – Prothro injury continues Tide’s recent run of tough luck
(Huntsville Times)

The question will be asked, discussed and debated. Should Tyrone Prothro – and, for that matter, the entire starting offense – have still been in the game in the fourth quarter with Alabama owning what would be a 31-3 win over Florida on Saturday afternoon?

“We’re not going to go back and start that again,” Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle said.

A year after Croyle was lost for the season to a knee injury in the third quarter with a 31-0 lead over Western Carolina, Alabama has lost its leading receiver for the season with a compound fracture in his left leg. The injury came with 8:53 left in the game and Croyle throwing to Prothro, a junior from Heflin, into the end zone for what would have been a 27-yard touchdown pass.

“You don’t ever know what’s going to happen,” coach Mike Shula said when asked if he second-guessed himself for leaving Prothro in the game. “(Florida) plays a fastbreak-type offense. “We were trying to make first downs to keep their offense off the field. We were trying to make a play.”

Offensive coordinator Dave Rader vehemently defended Shula’s decision, pointing to Tennessee overcoming a 21-0 halftime deficit last Monday to beat LSU 27-24 in overtime.
“What do you?” Rader said. “Do you take him out at 7-3 because we know that they’re only going to score three? Do we take him out at 14-3 because we know they’re only going to score three? We’re out there to win the ballgame, and we take our best players to win the ball game.” Rader said that putting backups who had not played to that point into the game was risky.

I agree, although I’m sure Coach Shula will be second guessing himself on that every time Alabama needs a punt returned or a deep pass caught this season.

Update: UA replacing Prothro with Knight, Hall (Birmingham News)

Wide receivers Ezekial Knight and DJ Hall will have expanded roles on the freshly anointed No. 7-ranked Alabama football team when it resumes play Oct. 15 at Ole Miss. Crimson Tide head coach Mike Shula said they will help replace Tyrone Prothro, who had surgery Saturday night to repair a broken leg suffered late in Alabama’s 31-3 victory over Florida. “He’s not going to make it back this year,” Shula said Sunday afternoon, confirming what everyone expected. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back for spring practice.”

Prothro, who is 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, led Alabama in receiving with 17 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He also averaged 27.6 yards as the team’s main kick returner and 7.4 yards as its only punt returner. But he broke his left fibula and tibia on a fourth-quarter reception attempt in the end zone Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. And that’s where Knight and Hall come in.

Knight, a sophomore who was fifth on Alabama’s list of wideouts, will enter the Crimson Tide’s four-man playing rotation with fellow sophomores Hall, Keith Brown and Matt Caddell. “I have no choice but to step up,” said Knight, a physical, 6-3, 217-pound Wedowee native who has five catches for 42 yards. He won the Most Improved Freshman Award after spring practice ended last spring, but Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle said Sunday that Knight needs to regain his confidence after dropping a pass Sept. 17 at South Carolina.

[…]

“In my opinion, Tyrone Prothro was the best player in the nation, bar none,” Croyle said. “He was our Mr. Everything. He did everything for us. You can’t replace that. But talent-wise and depth-wise, receiver is our deepest spot with the most talent.”

For instance, Brown is one of the fastest receivers in the country. He showed it Saturday when he ran a quick slant pattern, caught a pass from Croyle 6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, with a receiver draped over him, then outraced Florida’s secondary the remaining 59 yards for a touchdown.

Alabama fans hope their dream season didn’t just run away, too. Prothro, a little man, leaves big shoes to fill. He’ll especially be missed in future games against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents Tennessee, LSU and Auburn.

The Tide likely will use less trickery with its offensive personnel in Prothro’s absence. Prothro has lined up at quarterback and tailback. He took a snap against Florida, in fact, with Croyle split wide right as a receiver.

“You’re losing out on some creativity a little bit,” Shula said, “and a guy that is a playmaker. All of a sudden, you take all those plays out that he’s made. Now you have to substitute in, find a way to have someone else come up and be a productive football player for us.”

Tide deals with loss of Prothro (Mobile Register)

Complete euphoria seems a hard commodity to corner for Alabama football in the last half decade.

For every shutout trouncing of an overmatched Western Carolina team, there has been an equal and opposite reaction, like a season-ending injury to the star quarterback.

The Crimson Tide’s historic 31-3 trouncing of Florida on Saturday — arguably the team’s biggest Bryant-Denny Stadium win ever — was cause for gonzo jubilation around the Capstone. The celebrations were tinged, however, with the harsh reality that Alabama’s top playmaker, junior Tyrone Prothro, won’t be carving through the open field again this season.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He's a widower and father of two young daughters. He earned his PhD from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Does this mean the Gators are now ‘Deacon Blue”?




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  2. The Man says:

    The sun shines even on a dog’s ass every now and then.




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  3. RattlerGator says:

    As Arnold kinda-sorta said, “We’ll be back!”




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  4. Don says:

    We don’t agree on much, James, but we sure do on this! Roll Tide!




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  5. Dan C says:

    Anyone got any shots or Prothro breaking his leg?




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  6. Dan C says:

    Anyone got any shots of Prothro breaking his leg?




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