Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels: Keys to Victory

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This Saturday the Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) face their first ranked opponent and first road game of the season in the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels (4-0) in Oxford, Mississippi.

After Alabama’s dominating win over Florida two weeks ago, they enjoyed a bye week to rest some injured players while Ole Miss limped to a 24-3 win over Memphis. This matchup pits the fourth-ranked total defense in the country (Ole Miss) against the fifth-ranked total defense in the country (Alabama). The Tide is also fourth-ranked in total offense, while Ole Miss is also in the top 25 in total offense, showing how good all around both programs are.

Here’s what Alabama must to do remain undefeated this weekend.

Pressure Wallace

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the SEC, but he is also one of the most turnover-prone in the league. While Wallace has completed over 70 percent of his passes and thrown 11 touchdowns, he has also thrown an SEC-leading six interceptions. He’s been sacked seven times thus far this season, but what the Alabama defense will attempt to do more than anything is effect him with hits as the game goes on.

In addition, Kirby Smart and Nick Saban will attempt to confuse Wallace with different disguised coverages and blitzes as the game wears on. The Tide defense cannot allow Wallace to get comfortable and in a rhythm, or the Ole Miss offense will be extremely hard to stop. Every week the Tide defensive line has gotten better and better at rushing the passer, and that will need to continue this week. Look for defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Ryan Anderson to make some noise in this game.

Lock down Laquon Treadwell

Sophomore Rebel receiver Laquon Treadwell has 20 catches for 307 yards and three scores so far this season and is Bo Wallace’s favorite receiver. Treadwell is a big, physical receiver, which is where freshman Tony Brown and sophomore Eddie Jackson come into play. Brown is a big corner and is very physical, and played extremely well in his first start against Florida last week. Brown will need that confidence boost when he is matched up against Treadwell. He will also need help from Eddie Jackson as he returns from a quad injury that forced him to watch the Florida game from the sidelines. Like Brown, Jackson is a physical corner that will likely take turns with Brown matching up against the bigger receiver. Whoever matches up with Treadwell will have their hands full all game long, but stopping him will be an important step in winning this one.

Establish the run

Alabama faced a big, powerful defensive front seven two weeks ago against Florida, and struggled mightily early in the game to establish anything on the ground. Blake Sims put the team on his back in the first half and then the exhausted Florida defense began to crack as the Alabama line began to push them around. Running back Derrick Henry then pounded the Florida defense until the cracks became canyons.

Alabama will need to establish the run much sooner against Ole Miss. The Rebel defense boasts a secondary as good as their physical front seven, something the Gators did not possess. Ole Miss has allowed just one rushing touchdown so far this season, and no 100-yard rushers. Last week Alabama dusted off the wildcat formation with T.J. Yeldon, and it resulted in a first down every time it was used. That may be a weapon the Tide will need to look to in this one as well, and Derrick Henry will likely be the back to get most of the touches against a very physical, tough defense.

Blake Sims will need to make some plays in the passing game to loosen up the Ole Miss defense as well but a lot of Alabama’s success, or lack thereof, will hinge on the running game.

Blake Sims

After his out-of-this-world performance against Florida, all eyes will be situated on No. 6 in crimson this week. Sims has obliterated all expectations and shut up many critics, but he will need to continue his efficient and steadily improving game.

The shoulder injury he suffered late in the third quarter against Florida has been the subject of many a bad night’s sleep for Alabama fans over the past two weeks, but Nick Saban says that Sims is fine and he will play against Ole Miss. Alabama will surely look to keep the hits on Sims to a minimum, but he will also need to feel comfortable and play his game. If he attempts to stop himself from running to protect the shoulder it could cause him to play tight and get out of rhythm. Short, quick passes early to Amari Cooper and his running backs could be a cure for any anxiety Sims may be feeling about the shoulder early in the game. Sims has proven that he is a winner and that he can lead the Tide offense, now he must continue that.

Alabama and Ole Miss meet Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PM (central) on CBS. Follow BamaHammer on Twitter for live coverage if you can’t see the game.