Alabama Football: Why Lane Kiffin has best chance for a Saban first

Bama Saban And Kiffin 2016
Bama Saban And Kiffin 2016 /

Every Alabama football fan knows Nick Saban has never lost to one of his former assistants. The odds of probability are it will happen someday. Does Lane Kiffin have a good chance to make ‘someday’ this Saturday?

Answering that question requires non-biased thinking. If college football fans are any one thing, it would be biased. We see our teams through clouds of belief – even when trying to be objective. The words that follow in this post are clouded by beliefs. Hopefully, there is also some sober insight.

Ole Miss is a good football team. The running, passing and toughness of Matt Corral make him a top Heisman contender. Three Ole Miss running backs, Jerrion Ealy, Henry Parrish Jr. and Snoop Connor average between 5.7 yards and 7 yards per carry. Jonathan Mingo and Dontario Drummond are outstanding receivers. Braylon Sanders has averaged 19.6 yards per reception in his five-season Ole Miss career.

FBS stats, published by the NCAA show how prolific Lane Kiffin’s offense has been.

  • No. 1 – Average Yards Per Game – 633.3 yards
  • No. 1 – Average Points Per Game – 52.7 points
  • No. 4 – Rushing Yards Per Game – 298.7 yards
  • No. 11 – Passing Yards Per Game – 336.7 yards

Balance those numbers against the Ole Miss schedule. The record is 3-0 against Louisville, Austin Peay and Tulane. Louisville is 3-1 this season. Tulane is 1-3, though one was a close 40-35 loss to Oklahoma.

Alabama Football has played a tougher schedule with wins over Miami (2-2) and Florida (3-1).

Alabama Football 2021 Stats

  • No. 26 – Average Yards Per Game – 465.5 yards
  • No. 4 – Average Points Per Game – 46.5 points
  • No. 80 – Rushing Yards Per Game- 151.8 yards
  • No. 16 – Passing Yards Per Game – 313.8 yards

Making too much of the four data points is not advisable. With the small sample of games and differences in strengths of teams played, the stats provide nothing more than context.

Team defense stats don’t add much clarity. The Alabama Crimson Tide is better in every category. Alabama Football is No. 27 in the FBS in Scoring Defense, compared to Ole Miss at No. 61.

Alabama football fans confidently predicting a double-digit Tide victory cite a talent disparity between the two teams. No doubt that is correct with the defensive personnel. It is less true between the offense rosters.

The Crimson Tide will have a loud crowd in Bryant-Denny, giving it another edge.

What is left to consider is scheme and execution. In those areas, the Crimson Tide advantages diminish or go away. No opposing college coach understands the Alabama Football defense better than Lane Kiffin. Given the easy early schedule for  Ole Miss, Kiffin has had months to prepare in the offseason, plus another month of the season to scout the Crimson Tide. What he has seen of the Tide defense, must, at times have excited him.

Ole Miss will go fast. They have averaged 83 plays this season. Kiffin’s goal is 90 plays per game. The pace along makes a sometimes unsettled Crimson Tide defense more vulnerable. In addition, Kiffin excels at calling plays and his offense is not gimmicky, but solidly explosive.

The Alabama Football defense can pressure Corral enough to affect his accuracy. But it will also have to contain his running and that of the top three Ole Miss running backs. Missed defensive assignments and too frequently poor tackling have hurt the Tide. Ole Miss comes close to having all the tools needed to take advantage.

Note: Player data in this post is from

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Can Lane Kiffin pull off a Saban first? That is being the first assistant to beat the boss. Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss will believe it can win.