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Crimson Tide photos / Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young handled Miami and Mercer with ease during his first two career starts, but this week's challenge is a trip to Florida.

Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young has shown that he can conquer the Miami Hurricanes inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Mercer Bears inside the even friendlier Bryant-Denny Stadium.

This week's test will be drastically different, as Young will guide the top-ranked Crimson Tide into The Swamp to face No. 11 Florida.

"I think we all got a little taste of that playing in Atlanta, even though it wasn't the crowd noise there that we'll have this week," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday during his weekly news conference. "You've just got to play with poise, and that's one thing that Bryce has done in both games. He's been able to keep his poise and stay focused on doing things that we need him to do.

"It's the entire offense that will have to keep its poise in these situations, whether it's a silent snap count or whatever we'll have to do to operate. We have to do it as a unit, and that starts with the quarterback, but he's shown good poise so far this year."

Asked Monday if he's ever played in front of such a hostile audience as he will encounter, Young said, "I wouldn't say so."

Saturday's Alabama-Florida showdown is a rematch of last December's Southeastern Conference championship game won 52-46 by the Crimson Tide. Alabama hasn't ventured to Gainesville since 2011, when the Tide survived a 65-yard touchdown pass from John Brantley to Andre Debose on the first play from scrimmage and rolled to a 38-10 victory.

"We know the environment we're going to go into, and we know the challenges ahead of us," Young said. "It's something the coaches are preparing us for, and it's something we're not taking lightly at all. Being on the same page as an offense and as a team is going to be really big for us.

"We have to make sure we're communicating well and make sure that through the week we're getting the reps we need to get to prepare for Saturday."

Through the 44-13 win over Miami and the 48-14 defeat of Mercer, the 6-foot, 194-pounder from Pasadena, California, has completed 46 of 65 attempts (70.8%) for 571 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Young is the first quarterback in Alabama history with seven touchdown passes in his first two starts, and he is also the only Power Five quarterback so far with as many as seven touchdown tosses without getting picked off.

"I think Bryce has played well in both games," Saban said. "I keep saying this — how did the players around him play? That's what I think we need to continue to improve on — the overall timing of the passing game, the efficiency in runs and RPOs, and the things we try to tie into our offense. It's the entire unit that has to grow and develop.

"We're making progress, but we're not there yet."

Saban added that some of Young's best attributes so far have been his abilities to move in the pocket, steering away from pressure and stepping up when he needs to step up.

Young was an intrigued sideline spectator last December, when the Gators easily gave Alabama the toughest challenge of its 13-0 national championship season. The two starting quarterbacks in that game, Mac Jones and Kyle Trask, combined for 826 aerial yards and eight touchdowns.

"I think it was great for me to be able to watch that and to be there to be able to learn," Young said. "Those were two quarterbacks playing really well and two teams playing really well. You could definitely see the heart they showed and the resiliency they showed.

"They were a team that was really, really good last year and a team that's really, really good this year. It was a really good learning experience for me."

 

Tide tidbits

Saban used "encouraging" to describe sophomore outside linebacker Will Anderson's health following Saturday's injury to his knee, though Anderson didn't practice Monday. ... Alabama is 27-14 lifetime against Florida with seven straight wins, and the Crimson Tide are 11-2 all-time in The Swamp. ... Young on the sluggish win over Mercer: "As a team, we're not very proud of what we put on film, and that's something we have to acknowledge and learn from."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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