Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Alabama (4-1) fell to the Ole Miss Rebels (5-0) 23-17 for the first time since 2006, and the first time in the Nick Saban era. After a dominating first half for the Tide, things seemed to fall apart in the second half with mistakes, penalties, turnovers, and just some pretty bad football all around. A plethora of injuries to key players didn’t help matters either.

The Good

Alabama’s defense in the first half was fairly dominating, holding the Ole Miss offense in check, especially on third downs. They seemed to confuse Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace and kept the big Rebel receivers on lockdown while Ole Miss could not develop a running game at all. Things changed in the second half.

Punter J.K. Scott was incredible on the day, including two 60+ yard punts, and actually got Alabama out of trouble a few times kicking from deep in Alabama territory. The punter was definitely one player that did his job on the day.

The Bad

On the flip side of special teams, kicker Adam Griffith had another tough day. His first half kickoffs were pretty terrible all day, one of which didn’t seem to go higher than 15 yards in the air and resulted in a 60-yard return. His field goals weren’t much better, missing two of his three field goals. After a perfect start to the season Griffith has become extremely inconsistent in the past two games. Field goal kicking continues to be an Achilles’ heel for Alabama.

Alabama’s lone offensive touchdown came when Alabama drove the ball down the Ole Miss defenses’s throat, almost solely running the ball to the left side behind big freshman Cam Robinson. T.J. Yeldon was breaking off chunk after chunk on the drive, but for some reason Alabama seemed to move away from pounding the ball behind Robinson as the game wore on and running room to the right was fairly nonexistent all afternoon.

Injuries were killer against Ole Miss. With players like DeAndrew White and Eddie Jackson already hobbled coming into the game, along with Blake Sims’ injured shoulder, injuries were not something Nick Saban wanted to see. Linebacker Denzel Devall went out early in the game with a sprained ankle and did not return, resulting in young linebacker Ryan Anderson getting the bulk of his snaps (and playing fairly well). Center Ryan Kelly went down in the second half with a knee injury forcing youngster Bradley Bozeman into his first significant playing time of his career and resulting in several low and mistimed snaps.

The worst of the worst, however, was that of running back Kenyan Drake. After picking up a first down early in the game Drake took a shot to his lower leg and it was pretty clear right off the bat that the leg was broken. Nick Saban confirmed this after the game, ending the season of Drake, and who knows how long if ever it will take for him to come back. As horrific as it was to see the injury, maybe the worst part of it all happened after the injury. An Ole Miss defender proceeded to kick Drake in the back with no flags being thrown to boot.

Reggie Ragland was more of a good/bad type of player against Ole Miss. While he was dominating against the run, making several big hits in the backfield and at the line, he was pretty atrocious in pass coverage. Multiple times Ragland was confused, picking up the wrong player in coverage, or just getting beat. Pass coverage is obviously difficult for inside linebackers but it is something that is mandatory for playing time in a Nick Saban defense. It was Nick Johnson’s struggle in this department which caused him to be more of a “rushing down” player much of his career while players like C.J. Mosley rarely came off the field.

The Ugly

Mistakes did the Tide in. Alabama moved the ball; in fact the Tide outgained Ole Miss, but the previously mentioned mistakes hampered the Tide all game.

After a 30+ yard run from Yeldon at one point, the play came back due to an unnecessary block in the back from fullback Jalston Fowler after Yeldon had already ran past him. After O.J. Howard’s big 50+ yard catch in the second half, on the very next play he was caught for holding, which subsequently led to the drive stalling. On one drive in Ole Miss territory Blake Sims took sacks on back-to-back plays, resulting in a much longer field goal. With other four minutes remaining in the game and the score tied, Christion Jones fumbled a kickoff return which led to Ole Miss’ go ahead score. It was these types of mistakes that doomed the Tide.

Despite a horrible second half Alabama still had a shot with just under two minutes remaining in the game to tie things up and Amari Cooper gave fans hope after he turned a short catch into a big 30+ yard gain into Ole Miss territory. It was yet another mistake, however, that ended the game and possibly Alabama’s hopes at a playoff berth.

With about 50 seconds remaining in the game, Blake Sims took a shot at the end zone, but the problem was his intended receiver (Howard) was double covered and the throw was intercepted in the back of the end zone. Despite the progress Sims has made and the doubters he has silenced, he also proved that the first year starter still has a ways to go.

Tony Brown played excellent against Florida. Against Ole Miss he looked like a freshman. He was matched up with Laquon Treadwell much of the day, and Treadwell pretty well torched him the majority of the game. Brown didn’t seem to be able to match up to Treadwell’s physical play and really struggled down the stretch. There is no question he’s going to be a great player for Alabama, he made the same type of mistakes as greats like Dee Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Kareem Jackson did as youngsters.

Landon Collins mistakes, however, were much less excusable. The veteran All-American looked confused much of the second half and more than once got beat on big plays, including the go-ahead TD for Ole Miss. The bunch formations Ole Miss used in the second half confused the Alabama secondary, most notably Collins, and every time they went to it, especially the diamond formation, the Tide secondary was toast.

There is no excuse for Alabama’s secondary to not be ready for bunch formations like that, but there is even less excuse for no correction or changes being made during the game to try and put a stop to the bleeding on those types of plays. Some of that blame rests on the leader of the secondary, Collins, but a lot of it should lie on the shoulders of defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

This team’s legacy will begin to be written next week, how this team responds to such a horrible performance will outline its character. Alabama no longer holds its own destiny in its hands but all is not lost, yet.

Final Stats

Blake Sims: 19-31, 228 yards, 1 INT; 7 carries, 8 yards, 1 TD

TJ Yeldon: 20 carries, 123 yards
Derrick Henry: 17 carries, 37 yards

Amari Cooper: 9 catches, 91 yards
OJ Howard: 3 catches, 81 yards
Chris Black: 2 catches, 19 yards
TJ Yeldon: 2 catches, 7 yards
Christion Jones: 1 catch, 17 yards
Kenyan Drake: 1 catch, 10 yards
Brian Vogler: 1 catch, 3 yards

Nick Perry: 10 tackles
Reggie Ragland: 9 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Xzavier Dickson: 6 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks
Trey DePriest: 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Landon Collins: 6 tackles
Jonathan Allen: 5 tackles, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hurry
Tony Brown: 4 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 blocked extra point
Cyrus Jones: 3 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery (returned for TD), 2 pass breakups
A’Shawn Robinson: 3 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Maurice Smith: 2 tackles
Jarran Reed: 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Adam Griffith: 1 tackle
Christion Jones: 1 tackle
DJ Pettway: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup
Geno Smith: 1 tackle
Denzel Devall: 1 tackle
Brandon Ivory: 1 tackle
Ryan Anderson: 1 quarterback hurry

JK Scott: 6 punts, 51.8 yards per punt, long: 64 yards
Adam Griffith: 1/3 FGs (long: 44 yards), 2/2 XPs
Christion Jones: 1 punt return, 3 yards; 3 kickoff returns, 72 yards
Cyrus Jones: 1 kickoff return, 20 yards