Alabama Football: Ole Miss Rebels Offensive Preview

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama football looks to end its two-game losing skid on the road. It won’t be an easy task as the Crimson Tide heads to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the no. 11 Ole Miss Rebels. Oxford has not always been friendly to Alabama in the Nick Saban era. The last time the Tide played in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, it left with a win but surrendered 647 yards of offense and 48 points.

It is no secret that Lane Kiffin wants to beat Nick Saban, and has likely game-planned for this matchup more than any other. This could be one of the most difficult challenges for an Alabama defense that has not played well over the last month. The unit posted elite numbers early in the season, but is now a top-20 defense at best.

Ole Miss has been good on the offensive side of the ball, particularly in the running game. Alabama football has allowed over 180 yards rushing in three of its past five games. Prior to that stretch, Bama was giving up just 62.5 yards rushing. Its worst performance to that point was giving up 79 yards on 2.4 yards per carry to Bijan Robinson and Texas.

The Alabama run defense has taken a step back in recent weeks, but it will need to bring its A-game to slow down the Rebels.

Alabama Football: Defending the run

The Ole Miss running game has been dominant so far this season, ranking third in the nation and first amongst Power Five teams with 267.4 yards per game. The Rebels lean on the ground game heavily, ranking fifth nationally with 47.8 rushing attempts per game while still ranking in the top-10 in yards per carry average (5.6 YPC).

True freshman Quinshon Judkins leads the way for the Rebels with 1,036 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He currently ranks second in the SEC in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns (fifth nationally). Judkins has run for over 100 yards in six games this season, and is coming off a career-high 205 yards against Texas A&M.

TCU transfer Zach Evans backs up Judkins and is a stud in his own right. The former 5-star has 680 rushing yards with seven touchdowns and has gone over the century mark three times. Despite not getting the lion’s share of the carries, he ranks sixth in the SEC in rushing yards and eighth in rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Jaxson Dart is highly mobile as well, adding an extra element to the SEC’s best rushing attack. Dart has totaled 473 rushing yards on 5.9 YPC (including sack yardage). He has tallied a pair of 100-yard games with a 95-yarder for good measure. The Alabama defense will have to play assignment-sound football and tackle better than it has all year to slow down the Rebels’ ground game.

Alabama Football: Defending the pass

Ole Miss is not as effective when looking to pass, but Lane Kiffin does have some dangerous weapons at his disposal.

Dart has been fairly average as a passer this season. The former USC quarterback has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,911 yards and 14 touchdowns. He does not have a game-changing arm, but he is very effective in his role in this offense; that is, a complement to the Rebel running game.

His best passing performance came against Vanderbilt, which was the only game this season in which he eclipsed 300 yards through the air.

Dart has been somewhat turnover prone, with seven interceptions on the season. He has thrown a pick in all but three games, and in all but one SEC game. The issue is, Alabama is one of the worst defenses in the country at forcing turnovers and capitalizing on mistakes. It remains to be seen if the Tide will be able to take advantage of errant throws off the arm of Jaxson Dart.

Receivers Jonathan Mingo and Malik Heath are the biggest pass-catching threats for Ole Miss. Both are physical targets and big-play threats, and could present matchup problems for the Tide secondary. Mingo in particular is a problem, leading the team with 664 yards and four scores. His 22.1 yards per catch ranks second in the SEC.

Next. Why the Rebels won't win this one. dark

Lane Kiffin will certainly have an elite game plan put together for the Ole Miss offense. If Pete Golding can’t match his level of preparation, it could be another rough outing for the Alabama defense.