Alabama Football: How improved is the Ole Miss defense?


A big question for the Alabama Football vs. Ole Miss contest is how improved is the Rebel’s defense. Few Crimson Tide fans (maybe none) were disappointed when Pete Golding left Tuscaloosa. There was some conjecture Lane Kiffin had done Nick Saban a favor by hiring Golding.

Early 2023 season stats indicate the Ole Miss defense might be substantially better under Golding. The early season performance by the Crimson Tide offensive line also suggests the Crimson Tide might have a tough time running on the Rebels.

Several Ole Miss team stats are listed below. It is important to view them in context to an Ole Miss 3-0 record, with wins against Mercer, Tulane and Georgia Tech. And that Tulane was without its starting quarterback in the Ole Miss game.

There is no doubt an Alabama win on Saturday must include a productive Crimson Tide rushing attack.

Ole Miss Defensive Stats

  • Last season, Ole Miss was No. 8 among SEC teams at an average of 4.23 yards allowed on the ground.
  • So far this season the Rebels are 4th in the SEC for the same stats at 2.88 yards.
  • Looking at those numbers among all FBS teams, last season Ole Miss was No. 79 and this season the Rebels are No. 26.

Ole Miss Opponents not close to Alabama Football

  • Pulling up a ranking and stats for Mercer is meaningless, beyond Jeff Sagarin’s algorithm having the Bears at No. 177, among 261 teams.
  • Tulane is No. 177 in Rushing Offense with an average carry of 3.18 yards. Tulane rushed for 111 yards against Ole Miss. At the end of the 3rd quarter of that game, the teams were tied 17-17.
  • Georgia Tech is No. 31 in Rushing Offense, with a carry average of 5.17 yards. That stat is inflated by an average of 8.6 yards against South Carolina State.
  • The Yellow Jackets rushed for 167 yards against Ole Miss.
  • The Rambling Wreck had even more success through the air, passing for 307 yards. Measured by pass completion percentage, Georgia Tech is No. 43 among FBS teams. That is another stat increased by a 70.6% completion rate against South Carolina State.

This week Ole Miss defenders have expressed confidence in being more physical than the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. As has been seen with Alabama, talk does not equate to performance.

Lane Kiffin is always up for a bold barb, but he was restrained when talking about his defense’s performance against Georgia Tech, saying

"We didn’t tackle well, didn’t play really physical."

Alabama Football: Week Four Difference

Whatever woes continue for Alabama Football in week four, failing to be as or more physical than Ole Miss would be the biggest. The Crimson Tide offensive line must turn talk into action.

Note: Stats in this post are provided by Sports Reference and

Next. Can Steele outperform Golding?. dark

At the top, I asked how improved is the Ole Miss defense. My answer is some, but with seven transfer defensive starters and four more transfers in the two-deep, it is hard to know. I doubt it is a significant improvement. Balance that against an Ole Miss offense that, if Jaxson Dart has Quinshon Judkins and Tre Harris healthy, could be every bit as good as a season ago. And maybe better because Dart is playing so well.