By Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer
GAINESVILLE — When Nick Saban put Alabama's coaching staff together in 2008, his coordinators knew almost nothing about each other.
Newly promoted defensive coordinator Kirby Smart knew just-hired offensive guru Jim McElwain had worked at Louisville and assumed he had ties to Bobby Petrino. McElwain knew even less about his counterpart but learned everything he needed to when Smart was among the first people to greet him in Tuscaloosa.
"Which tells you what kind of guy he is," McElwain said.
Eight and a half years later, the two will meet Saturday under different circumstances, when McElwain leads No. 14 Florida against Smart's Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville. Aside from enormous SEC East implications for the Gators and bragging rights in one of the league's most storied rivalries, both coaches have a personal stake. … Read more
TAMPA — This will sound arrogant. Maybe a little immodest, traits not associated with an offensive lineman. In proper context, it wasn't meant that way. But when talking about the Bucs' success running the football the past two games, despite missing their top two running backs, tackle Demar Dotson was also being completely honest.
"Like I said, I don't think it really matters who is back there," Dotson said.
This is not to suggest that Tampa Bay could put a 25-pound frozen turkey behind that line and it would run for 100 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers, who has rushed for 101 and 154 yards, respectively, in the past two games, is no schlub, but he was out of football when the season started. He has taken his bows. Rookie Peyton Barber broke free for a 44-yard touchdown as the Bucs ran through San Francisco like Highway 101 on Sunday. … Read more