There is a very different feel around this Alabama football team as SEC play starts against Ole Miss on Saturday. And despite the uncertainty and angst of this passionate fanbase, everything is still in front of this team. It has been a while since an Alabama football team finds itself in a make-or-break game so early into the season., but here we are. There are a few things I am looking for on both sides of the ball and am confident if we see these things on a consistent basis from this Alabama football team on Saturday they will start 1-0 in SEC play.
The most important thing I’m looking for from this Alabama team is for the offense to find their identity. Every championship-caliber team knows what their offensive identity is, and for this Alabama team, it starts with being able to consistently and successfully run the ball. We heard all off-season and through fall camp, how big the offensive line is and how they were looking to get back to the joyless murder ball of the early years of Nick Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa.
If there is a time for a team to live up to the hype and expectations, Saturday against Ole Miss is the perfect time to start. A successful running game will help this struggling offensive line gain confidence, will allow Jalen Milroe to flourish, and most importantly will wear down the Ole Miss defense. What we saw at the end of last week’s game has to become a consistent part of this offense. I am looking for both Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams to both have big days against the Rebels.
Alabama Football Play-Calling
The second thing I am looking for from this Alabama offense is for Tommy Rees to cater his play calling to Jalen Milroe’s strengths. We should expect to see a healthy amount of designed running plays, RPOs, and screen passes on Saturday. These are things that will not only build Jalen’s confidence, but also keep the defense honest, and the play calling much less predictable. Trust me Tommy Rees doesn’t want to be the guy that makes Pete Golding look good on Saturday.
On the defensive side of the ball, I am looking for this Alabama team to get consistent penetration into the backfield, force some key turnovers, and most importantly get off the field on third down. I am looking for Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell to be disruptive in the backfield unlike during the Texas game. This defense has to get after Jaxon Dart on a consistent basis. He can’t have all day in the pocket like Quinn Ewers had or the running lanes we saw Byrum Brown have last Saturday. It’ll be no surprise what Lane Kiffin dials up and it’ll come down to whether this Alabama defensive unit can stop what they know is coming.
I am looking for some dogs on the defensive side of the ball, some consistent leaders to emerge, and a certain excitement to return to this defensive unit that we haven’t in a while. I am looking for this Alabama defense to be something we can depend on consistently instead of being a liability.
Saturday will be a big test and a barometer of what we can expect from this Alabama football team for the remainder of this season.