Alabama Football: What was learned from Southern Miss game

Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football won big over the Southern Mississippi (USM) Golden Eagles, 63-14. Since USM is not a good football team, measuring the Tide’s success is tricky. Some conclusions come easily, while others are of a smaller magnitude and are only suggestions of future results.

Bryce Young played like a legitimate Heisman contender. He ran the Crimson Tide offense so smoothly, he looked to be in his second season of starts, rather than his four games. His passing was sensational. Going for 20-for-22, with one incompletion (an interception) being perfectly thrown to the receiver’s chest. Young is now tied at No. 2 in the FBS with 15 touchdown passes, against the one interception that was not his fault. In Adjusted Quarterback Rating, published by ESPN, Young is No. 6 in the FBS, two spots lower than Ole Miss QB, Matt Corral.

Though it was known before, Will Anderson Jr. is one of the best defensive players in the nation. He is now No. 2 in the FBS with 8.5 tackles for a loss.

Two more points were reinforced in the Southern Miss game. Jameson Williams has blazing speed and JoJo Earle is a threat every time he fields a punt. The Crimson Tide pair are the best run-back duos in college football.

Though his play was limited, when in the game Saturday night, LaBryan Ray appeared to be healthy. Alabama football fans are afraid to hope for too much from Ray, but he looked dangerous against the Golden Eagles.

Based on Saturday night, Bill O’Brien might be close to moving Jalen Milroe to QB2. The separate playbook for Milroe has grown and he offers a different threat to defenses. His speed is exceptional, especially for a body that would allow him to play on defense. What was not known before the USM game – but is now – Jalen Milroe can make accurate, tough passes. His touchdown-toss to Javon Baker was perfectly thrown.

The receiver on the end of that Milroe pass was Javon Baker. The sophomore caught only two passes (from just two targets) against Southern Miss, but one of them required him to battle a well-positioned defender for the ball. Baker might be the additional receiver the Crimson Tide offense needs to make tough catches.

Clearly, all is well with Jahleel Billingsley. He did not start against USM but his playmaking role was restored with five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also made a key block leading to one of many explosive Crimson Tide plays. An out-of-the-doghouse tight end, who has wide receiver skills is a boost to the Tide offense.

All the above are clear positives or hints for the same. Not everything is rosy for the Crimson Tide. Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams led the Tide in total tackles Saturday night. Hellams missed at least one tackle against USM. Daniel Wright got the dime defense start over Brian Branch for an unknown reason. Tide safeties continue to have communication issues. The Crimson Tide is not as solid at safety as it will likely need to be against Ole Miss.

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Bryant-Denny will be rocking on Saturday with Lane Kiffin’s high firepower offense in T-Town. Against USM, the Alabama Football offense appeared to show it is up to another ‘Shootout’ if necessary. Hopefully, it won’t be necessary.