Alabama Football: Gut check time for 11 guys Saturday afternoon

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

How well 11 Alabama football players perform against Ole Miss will determine the outcome of the game. It takes more than 11 players to win a football game. The total number at Alabama is 41 positions plus other rotational players.

But when the Alabama Crimson Tide faces the Ole Miss Rebels, the game will be won or lost by how five offensive linemen and six rotating defensive linemen play.

The environment in the stadium will be intense. Some of that intensity will be fueled by the fervor of Alabama fans. Concurrent with fan fervor will be anxiety. Doubt that began with the Texas game, was intensified last Saturday. Crimson Tide fans have to grapple with the reality that good opposing teams have no fear of Alabama, not even in Bryant-Denny.

This week, many in the media have correctly stated that Saturday will be Lane Kiffin’s best chance to beat a Nick Saban team. He came close last season, and afterward, Kiffin said he did not come to Ole Miss to almost beat Alabama.

Kiffin has his players on message control this week. They have not and will not acknowledge any vulnerabilities in the Crimson Tide.

Don’t be fooled by that. Lane Kiffin has more than enough players who believe they can impose their will on even the best Alabama football players. The team that controls the line of scrimmage will win the game. It is true for Ole Miss and even more true for Alabama.

The best case for the Alabama Football offense would be for Kadyn Proctor, Tyler Booker, Seth McLaughlin, Darrian Dalcourt and JC Latham to dominate the Ole Miss defensive front. If Ole Miss loads the box, rather than domination, a stalemate can be enough. In a stalemate situation in the trenches, Tommy Rees will have to outcoach Pete Golding and make the Ole Miss back end pay.

Assuming Quinshon Judkins is fully healthy, he and the top running quarterback in the SEC, Jaxson Dart can eat up ground yards against the Crimson Tide. That is unless the Alabama defensive line, Jaheim Oatis, Tim Keenan, Justin Eboigbe, and rotating backups Tim Smith, Jah-Marien Latham, and Damon Payne impose their will on the Ole Miss offensive line.

Alabama Football Gut Check

If the five Alabama football starters on the O-line and the six defensive linemen win more physical battles than their Ole Miss opposition – Alabama should prevail. Not that other Alabama position groups will not influence the outcome. They very much will, but if the 11 Crimson Tide players mentioned don’t do their job, the rest of the Alabama guys can’t do theirs.

Anyone doubting the above scenario can go back to what Kirk Hernstreit said after the Texas game. Herbstreit said his biggest concern for Alabama was

"… seeing Texas dominate, at times, the line of scrimmage, almost bully Alabama …"

On Saturday afternoon it must be the Alabama Crimson Tide that is doing the bullying inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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Another point Herstreit made is the physical toughness is up to the players. The coaches cannot do it for them.