Alabama Football: Ole Miss Rebels Defensive Preview

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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Alabama football desperately needs a win, and an impressive showing on both sides of the ball. The Alabama offense has been subpar in recent weeks, but hopes to take advantage of an equally unimpressive Ole Miss defense.

Statistics would tell you that the Rebels employ a bend-but-don’t-break defensive approach, but the numbers are somewhat misleading. The Ole Miss defense ranks outside of the top-60 nationally in every pertinent yardage stat except for yards per play allowed (47th at 5.3 YPP). Still, it has managed to rank 33rd in scoring defense giving up just 21.6 points per contest. This is largely because Lane Kiffin’s team opened the season against three inferior opponents, and allowed just 13 total points in those contests.

Alabama Football: An Ailing Rebels defense

Since September 24th, the Rebels have surrendered at least 400 yards of offense to every opponent except Kentucky. This includes a 457-yard debacle against Tulsa. In SEC play, the Rebels defense has not been particularly good from any perspective. Against conference competition, Ole Miss is giving up 430.4 yards and 30.8 points per game.

The Ole Miss defense has gotten worse as the season has progressed, and has been shredded in three straight games. In week seven, Auburn gashed the Rebels to the tune of 301 yards on 6.3 yards per carry.

The following week, LSU picked up where the Barners left off, running for 252 yards (5.3 YPC) on the Sip.

Finally, in week nine, the Ole Miss secondary was picked apart by true freshman quarterback Connor Weigman. Weigman threw for 338 yards and four scores in what was an outlier of a passing performance for Texas A&M. Each of these three opponents managed at least 6.6 yards per play against Ole Miss.

Clearly, the Rebels defense can be had at every level. The question remains, can a sputtering Alabama offense capitalize?

Alabama Football: Assessing Ole Miss’ defensive personnel

Central Michigan transfer Troy Brown leads the unit from his linebacker position, and has registered a team-high 65 tackles.

The biggest playmakers on the Ole Miss defense reside in the secondary. Veteran safeties Otis Reese and AJ Finley are joined by Auburn transfer Ladarius Tennison to form a ball-hawking trio. Finley has a team-high two interceptions this season and eight in his career.

Edge players Jared Ivey, Cedric Johnson, and Khari Coleman generate most of the Ole Miss pass rush. They have combined for 12 sacks this season, which is just short of the 12.5 posted by Alabama’s vaunted edge rusher trio.

dark. Next. Statement Game opportunity for the Tide

While the Ole Miss defense allows a lot of production, it features impact players that are capable of making big plays. The Alabama offense has to protect the football and avoid the costly mistakes and turnovers that have haunted it in recent weeks.