Different Animal, Same Beast: Kyle Pitts vs. Devonta Smith

Two of college football's finest receivers will show off against each other in Atlanta this Saturday in the SEC Championship. Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is expected to be back in action after missing the LSU game due to an injury. On the other side, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith looks to continue his Heisman campaign that has gained some life in wake of Florida's loss against the Tigers. Both players have been matchup nightmares for opposing defenses this season, and there's been some talk as to which one of these playmakers cause the most headaches for defensive coordinators. Let's take a deeper look.


Kyle Pitts comes in with 36 receptions for 641 receiving yards and 11 TDs, despite missing three games this year. In other words, Pitts scores a touchdown about every three touches. Devonta Smith has had a monster year with 83 receptions for 1,327 receiving yards and 15 scores. He's averaging 16 yards per touch. Something interesting to note is, Devonta Smith is had been targeted 106 times this season, while Kyle Pitts has only been targeted 53 times, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). In addition, Alabama's other wide receivers have only accounted for 147 receptions while Florida's other weapons have 208 receptions. This is partly because of Alabama's ability to run the ball routinely and Florida's troubles in the run game. Still, if the Gators can stop No. 6 for the Tide, Alabama will be forced to target some other players.


Another difference is Smith does most of his work over the top, while Pitts can hurt you anywhere on the field. Smith has 33 catches for 12 TDs on targets 10+ yards downfield. On the other hand, Pitts has 19 catches for 5 TDs on targets 10+ yards downfield, and he has 15 catches for 5 TDs on catches between 1-10 yards. Pitts gets busy in the red zone, as is shown by his numbers. I expect Florida to continue to target the big man inside the opponent's 20-yard line after some questionable play calling in goal-to-go situations last week.


Where Smith dominates is in the Yards After Catch (YAC) category. Smith has 693 YAC with 427 of those yards coming on targets 0-10 yards downfield. Conversely, Pitts only has 234 YAC. Smith excels in open space and Alabama is key on getting the ball to him in open space on screens and other short routes. Pitts is more of a winner when is come to creating coverage mismatches in size. Dan Mullen and Brian Johnson routinely put Pitts in position to win the 50-50 balls with ease.


Despite their differences, two of the nation's best receivers will have the opportunity to help their respective teams win the SEC Championship. For Pitts, I'm not sure what answer any team, including Alabama, will have for him. In Smith's case however, if the Gators can keep him from beating them downfield and tackle him in space, the Tide will be forced to switch things up. Kyle Trask has already proven he can operate in the absence of Pitts by getting others involved, so we'll see if the Gators can force Mac Jones to beat them with other receivers.


The SEC Championship game will kickoff Saturday Night at 8:00 PM EST.


*All advanced statistics are pulled from PFF*


Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football

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