Crimson Keys: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels


On Saturday night, the second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will lock horns, or shall we say tusks, with 15th ranked Ole Miss Rebels. Last year, Ole Miss managed to knock off the Tide at home in Alabama’s only regular season defeat of the year. This year Alabama will look to gain a measure of revenge as both teams battle in their first SEC game of the season.

Establish The Run
This game might feature the two best defensive lines in the entire country and combined with Ole Miss’ uptempo offense, Alabama will look to try and control the game to keep the Rebel offense off the field. The Alabama offense line pushed around the solid Wisconsin defensive line in the opener but then seemed to take a step back last week against MTSU. This week they will face off with probably the best defensive line this group will face all year. Right tackle Dominick Jackson struggled last week and was replaced in the first group by Brandon Greene in the early part of the week in practices, but returned to the first team by midweek. Either that means the Alabama coaches were sending a message to Jackson or he rebounded majorly in a few days. Alabama will look to feed Derrick Henry early and often to try and wear down the Ole Miss defense and make sure they give the Tide defense a chance to rest after having to chase around the Rebel offense. Kenyan Drake will be a huge x-factor in this game for a few reasons. He will bring a wonderful change of pace to the game from Henry’s pounding style and after a defense has been pounded on play after play, bringing in the speedster could be a death blow for a tired defense. Drake will also look to gain a bit of revenge after his season-ending leg injury last season against the Rebels.

The Deep Pass
Alabama has yet to hit a pass downfield this year and because of that, it is very likely Ole Miss will sit down on the short routes and screens Alabama will attempt to try. That will make the secondary susceptible to deep routes but Jake Coker MUST hit at least one to loosen up the secondary and give the underneath routes a shot. Also, the little pitches and shovel passes to Drake should give Alabama a chance to loosen up the defense. Converting some shots downfield will be a must for this offense, however.

Sep 5, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) during the game against the Tennessee Martin Skyhawks at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels won 76 – 3.Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Third Downs
Last year third down was killer for the Tide defense as they were one of the worst in third-down defense in the country. So far third down offense has been pretty below average as well in the first two games, which is frustrating considering last year Blake Sims was a master of third down conversions. The Tide defense will need to get off the field to give the offense a shot. If Ole Miss is converting third downs all day, it will be a long one for the Crimson Tide defense. Ole Miss has been scoring at will so far this year and you can argue they haven’t played much of a defense yet, but scoring 70 points against the air is impressive let alone against a college defense. Alabama’s secondary will look to rebound from last year’s defeat and all of the conversions they allowed down the stretch against Ole Miss. Chad Kelly is unquestionably a superior quarterback to Bo Wallace so it will be even tougher this go around. One of the bigger wins for Alabama will be if they can keep Ole Miss in third and long situations, but that only works if they hold as that was a big problem last season. I look for Jonathan Allen, Da’Shawn Hand, Tim Williams, and Rashaan Evans to see the field a lot in this game to get more speed on the field to rush Kelly and chase around the speedy backs and receivers Ole Miss fields.

Alabama faces off with Ole Miss this Saturday night at 8:15 PM (central) on ESPN. If you can’t watch the game then stay tuned here on BamaHammer for live updates.