Alabama Football: Five keys to beating Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Alabama Football
Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football Key No. 1

In 249 offensive plays this season, Ole Miss has run the ball 145 times. The rushing output has been 849 yards, compared to 1,010 yards from their passing attack. The Crimson Tide must control the Ole Miss running game. It did not last season in Oxford, as it didn’t two games ago in Gainesville.

Ole Miss has three talented running backs in Jerrion Ealy, Henry Parrish Jr. and Snoop Conner. Conner is more of a power back. Ealy and Parrish have speed and are elusive. Matt Corral is also a strong running threat. Take away the times Corral has been sacked, and all four average more than five yards-per-carry.

Sloppy tackling and not wrapping up cannot plague the Tide. What must happen is contain Corral in the pocket, while holding the other three below their average yards-per-carry. How much below the rush averages for the Ole Miss backs? Enough to make Ole Miss a more pass-heavy team. Corral is a good passer when not pressured and sometimes even when he is. But Ole Miss will not win if it is forced to produce twice as many yards passing as running.

Crimson Tide Key No. 2

Fatigue cannot become a factor for the Crimson Tide defense. Rotating a few more players on the defensive line and at linebacker might be risky. Less experienced players tend to make more mistakes and blow more assignments. Assignment integrity will be important, but if Ole Miss has enough third-down success, it could tire a Tide defense using few subs.

Another option, minimizing the need for defensive rotation, is for the Tide offense to be patient and eat up clock as often as possible. That too has a risk as it could lead to less effective offensive production.