Gators entering a speed trap

Chris Rainey (pictured) and Jeff Demps have produced several big plays for the Gators this season. Kim Klement/US Presswire

Speed can be a coach's best friend, or his worst enemy. And that usually depends on how much of it is on his roster.

While football may be most commonly associated with power and toughness, speed in the right places can change a game in a hurry. And as offenses have learned to spread the field in recent years, defensive speed has become more valuable than ever. Some would argue that it's been the driving factor behind the SEC's run of five straight BCS championships. From former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith to Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James, big-time players from across the country have been given fits by fast SEC defenses.

Quite simply, defensive speed, when in proper position, can be the great neutralizer of offensive speed. And for teams like the Florida Gators that rely on speed to produce big plays and move the ball on offense, that can be a serious problem -- especially when a team like the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide is coming to town.