The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) resume their SEC Conference play against the Ole Miss Rebels (2-2) this Saturday. Head coach Nick Saban and the Tide still remember the stings of the 2014 and 2015 losses to the Rebels. The past two seasons the Tide have won by 63-points and 55-points respectively. Despite the huge wins for the past couple of seasons, the Crimson Tide are looking to get better on both sides of the ball. The Tide have been harsher on the scoreboard than most teams. Saban knows focus is the key to staying healthy but winning by a deciding factor. Here is your Alabama Preview.
Alabama Preview For Ole Miss
Alabama’s Offensive Line Up For A Huge Task
After a few changes and reshuffling, the Tide’s offensive line looks to be at it’s peak before mid-season. This was after a rough start to the season where they allowed some pressure to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. In four games, the offensive line has given up only four sacks. This Saturday, the Tide will face a Rebels defense that has serious flaws in stopping the passing game but getting to the quarterback is not one of them. The Rebels’ defense has accounted for 12 sacks so far this season including four last week against the #23 California Golden Bears. Outside linebacker Charles Wiley has accounted for 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Outside linebacker Sam Wilson and defensive end Ryder Anderson have each accounted for 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
This will be the most aggressive pass rush defense the Crimson Tide offensive line will play this season. Tackles Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills Jr. have been stout in picking up outside pressure from ends and blitzing backers. Left guard Evan Neal has been very efficient starting all four games as a true freshman. Guard Landon Dickerson has displayed great versatility throughout the offensive as a guard and center. He may need to start at the center position if center Chris Owens misses the game against Ole Miss with a concussion he suffered last week against Southern Miss. Deonte Brown will be back after serving a four-game suspension for violating NCAA rules before the College Football Playoffs.
Tide’s Passing Projects To Explode Again
If the offensive line does its job, Tagovailoa and the elite wide receiver group will put up some high numbers. The Tide’s offense will face a Rebels defense that is ranked 114th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (288.5). In last year’s match-up, the Tide scored 28 points in the first quarter and 21 points in the second quarter. Tagovailoa only threw 15 passes, completing 11 of them for 191 yards and two touchdowns before being done midway through the second quarter. This game, the Tide can toss deep to Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III to get quick points on the board. They can also get sophomore receiver Jaylen Waddle back in a consistently high amount of impact on the field. Waddle has accounted for 197 yards on 11 receptions but no touchdowns. That could change this Saturday at home against Ole Miss.
Young Defense Ready For Long SEC Play
Two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide defense gave up 459 total yards to the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Tide’s defense is looking to be more efficient from start to finish against a Rebels offense that has the potential to put up high-volume numbers. Rebels wide receiver Elijah Moore is a dangerous, fast receiver that mostly plays as an inside target. This will be a big test for Tide freshman linebackers Shane Lee and Christian Harris. Both have learned fast and have been getting better as they contribute for the Tide. They’ll have a big responsibility of watching Moore and stopping an efficient Rebels running back Scottie Phillips. Sophomore cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Josh Jobe have played very well so far this season. They’ll need to stop a struggling offense that can drive the ball down the field. They have accounted for 87 first downs (tied for 44th in the nation).
Injuries A Concern For The Tide
Injuries plagued the Crimson Tide last season, including one to Tagovailoa. The Tide were hit hard with the two major injuries to middle linebackers Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillion. They have found good replacements in Lee and Harris starting as true freshmen. For the past few weeks, the Tide have been hit hard again with serious injuries. The longest so far is defensive end Labryan Ray, who had foot surgery. He is hoping to be back for the home game against the #4 LSU Tigers. Outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is expected to be back this Saturday after missing last week with a knee injury.
Center Chris Owens (concussion), defensive tackle D.J. Dale (knee), kicker Will Reichard (hip flexor), and defensive end Justin Eboigbe (foot) are all questionable for the game against Ole Miss. Eboigbe was the replacement for Ray and if he is unable to go then they will have to go their third strong-side end in freshman Byron Young.
Alabama Preview Main Photo:
TUSCALOOSA, AL – SEPTEMBER 21: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide scrambles for a first down in the third quarter against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 21, 2019 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Alabama defeated Southern Miss 49-7. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)