NEW ORLEANS — Utah may have gotten its offensive roots from former coach Urban Meyer, but Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t think having already played against Florida’s offense this year will help his Crimson Tide in Friday’s Sugar Bowl.
The difference lies in the quarterbacks. Florida’s Tim Tebow is a runner built in a fullback mold, who is also capable of throwing the ball, Saban said.
Utah’s Brian Johnson is a passer first.
Johnson, the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, completed 68.3 percent of his passes this season for 2,636 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 7,517 yards in his career, during which he is 25-7 as a starter, passing former No. 1 pick Alex Smith as the winningest quarterback in school history.
“(The Utes) have a lot more controlled passes in their offense, which lets them get the ball out of his hands quickly and efficiently,” Saban said.
Alabama (12-1) gave up 358 yards in a 31-20 loss to Florida in the SEC championship game earlier this month, the most points and third-most yards the Crimson Tide allowed this season.
Many happy returns
Utah knows the danger Alabama returner Javier Arenas poses every time he touches the ball. The senior, after all, has five career punt returns for touchdowns and ranks third in NCAA history in punt return yardage.
“He’s going to be one of the best guys we’ve seen all year,” Utes kicker/punter Louie Sakoda said. “He’s a dangerous guy, but we’re conscious of it.”
Dome sweet dome
Alabama has played indoors twice this year, opening and closing its season in the Geor gia Dome, but it hasn’t played in anything quite like the Louisiana Superdome.
“It should be one of the Seven Wonders of the World,” Crimson Tide defensive end Bobby Greenwood said.
The undefeated Utes didn’t play in a dome in any of their 12 games this season, but they got a taste of it when they attended last Sunday’s Saints game against the Carolina Panthers.
“It got pretty loud,” Johnson said. “It will be similar to some of the third downs at Michigan when it got kind of close.”