If you ask the casual football fan, the kickoff time at 11:00 AM would be the only thing the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) would need to worry about this Saturday. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2-1) are looking to be a tough opponent despite Alabama being a 38.5 favorite. Either way, Alabama is taking the Golden Eagles very seriously because they are next on the schedule. With the Crimson Tide looking to get through the regular season with a perfect record, they’ll need to play each game with each perfect available. Today, we’ll look at how Alabama prepares for early kickoff against Southern Miss.
Alabama Prepares for Early Kickoff Against Southern Miss
Just business as usual for Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as he chases for perfection and the Heisman Trophy. In just three games, Tagovailoa has passed for 1,007 yards, 12 touchdowns, and no interceptions with 70 completions out of 91 attempts. His passing yards rank sixth in the nation and his touchdown total is tied for first along with Washington State’s Anthony Gordon. His 213.4 passer rating ranks third in the nation behind Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts (250.2) and LSU’s Joe Burrow (223.9).
To go along with his explosive and efficient passing is his decision-making as he has not thrown an interception. Tagovailoa has the opportunity of getting four wide receivers on the same roster to 1,000 career-yards. Each of the receivers in Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle are dangerous in their own way. Tagovailoa will have a chance to improve his stats even more against a less-efficient Southern Miss defense.
The Golden Eagles’ defense ranks tied for 91st in the nation in points allowed per game (30) and 106th in passing yards allowed per game (274.7). Overall, Southern Miss ranks 114th out 130 division teams in defensive efficiency (25.8). This is not a defense that will slow down Tagovailoa unless he is forced to make mistakes from the pressure of the defensive line. The defense for Southern Miss has accounted for 11 total sacks so far this season. Last week, the Golden Eagles were victorious by a 47-42 count against the Troy Trojans. Alabama’s offense has been very efficient in long passing plays this season. If Tagovailoa doesn’t make mistakes and the offensive line remains stout, then the Tide should find no problems getting on the scoreboard.
Tide relying on true freshman Justin Eboigbe
The Crimson Tide will have to rely on more players to provide consistent pass rush after defensive end Labryan Ray will miss at least six weeks of the season with foot surgery. This puts Eboigbe as the starting defensive end while Ray recovers with his injury. Eboigbe was the 62nd overall rated prospect in the class of 2019 and the fifth rated strongside defensive end. He joins starting middle linebackers Shane Lee and Christian Harris as well as safety Jordan Battle to play consistently as true freshmen. Eboigbe will be the prime defensive lineman to provide pass rush while Ray is out. He will be crucial while outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is nursing an injury. His role against Southern Miss is unknown currently. His backup is sophomore Christopher Allen has been taking multiple reps early in this young season.
Contain Jaylond Adams
One of the biggest keys for Alabama’s defense is to contain the Golden Eagles star wide receiver, Jaylond Adams. So far this season, Adams has accounted for 257 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions. Trevon Diggs, the Tide’s main man-coverage cornerback will be responsible to make sure he does not slip through for easy first downs like the South Carolina Gamecocks did last week. Cornerback/safety Patrick Surtain II will provide zone coverage depending on the coverage schemes called from defensive coordinator Pete Golding. It isn’t the passing game that the Tide will need to be cautious of regarding Adams.
So far this season, Adams has been a very efficient and dangerous specialist for the Golden Eagles. Adams has returned five kickoffs for a total of 237 yards and accounted for two touchdowns. He averages 47.7 yards per kickoff return. He has also returned four punts for a total of 100 yards and accounted for a touchdown. The kickoff and punt coverage will need to be alert and taking proper angles when dealing with Adams. Most of all, the main player is to contain Adams is punter Skyler Delong, who has been up and down in this season. In his only punt against South Carolina, his punt only went 14-yards before going out of bounds. He will need to be more efficient by creating more hangtime for punt returns or kicking away from more dangerous returners especially against more dominant teams.