Alabama Football and Ole Miss: ‘Air Raid’ vs. Power Football

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 19: An Alabama Crimson Tide cheerleader is tossed in the air prior to the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 19: An Alabama Crimson Tide cheerleader is tossed in the air prior to the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama football and Ole Miss will be a modern-day contrast in classic offensive styles. Mostly-finesse will try to outscore mostly-power.

For Alabama football coach Nick Saban, the Ole Miss game carries added incentive. Not just the incentive of the Rebels-Black Bears having won two of the last three against the Tide. There is more. Saban hates tricked-up fastball teams. To Nick, they are usurpers who reject homage to the traditions of college football.

Saban acknowledges changes in the game. He is not averse to incorporating some of those changes into the Alabama football offense. But adapting to change has not diminished Nick’s penchant for old-style power football.

After the mostly successful experiment of Lane Kiffin, Brian Daboll was chosen to orchestrate a more straight-forward approach. Longtime Saban cohort and Tide radio analyst, Phil Savage explains,

"it’s definitely been a more straightforward, downhill, we’re-going-to-put-a-priority-on-the-run-game (type of offense). They still use multiple personnel groupings. They definitely formation people. But there’s not as much lateral eye candy, window dressing – there’s not as much of that like we saw under Lane Kiffin."

Saban and Eye Candy

Nick Saban may be a fan of eye candy in automobiles, but not so much on the football field. Lane Kiffin and many others in college football’s new offensive-guru cadre want to out-scheme opponents. Saban prefers to use formations to create personnel advantages as a mixture to lining up and executing physical domination.

Many fastball, spread formation football teams resort to the schemes because they have no other option. Power football requires an offensive line that can blow the defense off the ball. Not many teams have the personnel for that approach.

Over the past couple of seasons, there has been some doubt that Alabama football had an offensive line that could consistently physically dominate. Even with early success in 2017, the Tide’s line has been challenged by Saban to improve.

Against an Ole Miss team that has shown little talent to run or stop the run, downhill football should be quite effective. Make first downs, score points, eat up the clock. Ole Miss will attempt to counter with big-play bolts of lightning from the gifted arm of Shea Patterson.

A classic confrontation – power vs. finesse. Such a duality is almost akin to a ‘good’ vs. ‘evil’ comparison. At least you have to wonder if Saban sees it that way.

Can Power Football Win a Championship?

Further into the season, against maybe Auburn or Georgia or in a CFB Playoff game, power football may not be enough. Phil Savage sees that eventual dilemma and describes it well,

"The challenge is continuing to strike a balance between knowing what you can do and what you potentially need to be able to do. As ’Bama runs up against better competition throughout the season, you know they’re going to play a defensive line that is good enough to get some stops on first and second down. Then you have to be able push the button and be able to throw the ball on third down. That’s the crux of the season for Alabama … and where they could be by the time they get to December."

Notice Savage said December. Maybe the ‘crux’ arises before that. Maybe not. Alabama football could make enough mistakes and commit enough turnovers against Ole Miss, TAMU, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State to need a late-game offensive explosion. But could is a far place from will. All those teams would also have to stuff the Tide’s potent rushing attack.

When any opponent loads the box enough to take away the run, Jalen’s passing skills should be enough. If in a certain game, if Jalen’s arm is not true, Tua is an option.

Phil Savage also said,

"If the offensive line is secure enough to win the line of scrimmage on first and second down, where Alabama is ahead of the sticks with third-and-three, third-and-two, then they’re almost impossible to stop"

And that is exactly what Nick Saban wants to achieve with the 2017 Alabama football offense. It is becoming clear Saban and Daboll see that as a recipe for a championship.

Next: Ten Best Alabama QB's of All-Time

Alabama football and Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. It is time to return this old football series to normalcy. Meaning Alabama football dominance of course.