Last Saturday was one of the most chaotic weekends in recent memory. The #4 Florida Gators and the #17 LSU Tigers both lost in disappointing fashion. The #13 Auburn Tigers almost lost a huge game to Arkansas in a controversial finish. Meanwhile, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide knew they would endure in a tough offensive game against the Ole Miss Rebels but they were in a bigger fight than they imagined. The Tide had a near-perfect performance with their offense but their defense played terribly. Alabama beat the Rebels and former Tide assistant turned head coach Lane Kiffin with a 63-48 score. Here are the good, bad, and ugly notes from the Tide’s win over Ole Miss.
The Good – Offense
On the offensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide had a near-perfect performance from their skill position players. The Tide’s offense accounted for 723 total yards with 417 of them coming from the passing game and 306 of them coming from the ground. They accounted for 37 total first downs as they were rarely in tough situations on offense. Finally, they were 6-of-7 on third-down conversions. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian outperformed last week’s impressive performance against the #13 Texas A&M Aggies. He was diverse in his play selections as the Tide ran the ball 39 times and passed the ball 32 times. Winning key matchups continues to be the natural for Alabama but they are doing it at an explosive rate.
Running back Najee Harris had his biggest performance of the season for Alabama as he rushed for 206 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries against Ole Miss. Harris’ most impactful runs were on the outside with counters. Backup running back Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Quarterback Mac Jones continues to perform at a high-level by efficiently throwing in key moments during the routes. Jones threw for 417 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions on 28 completions (out of 32 passing attempts). Both wide receivers in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle each a big game against the weak defensive secondary of Ole Miss. Smith caught 13 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown as well as rushed for a touchdown.
The Bad – Some Inconsistencies On The Offensive Line And Linebackers
While there were many great offensive moments for Alabama against Ole Miss’ poor defense, there have been times that have struggled in a certain area. The offensive line has had a shaky three-game start to the 2020 College Football season. In three games, the offensive line has allowed four sacks with two on Jones. They faced some inconsistencies in creating at the line of scrimmage for the running game. Harris was held under 100 rushing yards in each of the games against Missouri and Texas A&M. They have often been overpowered by the defensive line of the Tigers, Aggies, and Rebels as the holes they have created quickly close up. Some of Harris’ best runs were to the outside on pulls and counters. The offensive line did find some consistency further into the game against Ole Miss but they will need to more sharp and avoiding pre-snap penalties.
There will be plenty of talk of the Tide’s terrible performance against the Rebels later on. The linebackers for the Crimson Tide played their worst game of the season so far. Middle linebackers Dylan Moses and Christian Harris each had their significant struggles this high-tempo misdirection offense of Ole Miss. Both Moses and Harris had significant missed tackles in the backfield and in turning upfield. Moses accounted for 13 total tackles as he was all over the field. Freshman jack linebacker Will Anderson Jr. lacked some significant pass rush as he overpassed Matt Corral in the pocket. The Rebels challenged the linebackers but were caught in big blocks.
The Ugly – Pete Golding And The Defense
The defense for the Crimson Tide played their worst game in years against Ole Miss. They allowed 647 total yards of the Rebels’ offense, which is the most ever in school history. The Tide’s defense allowed 379 yards in the passing game and 268 yards from the rushing game. Defensive coordinator Pete Golding looked like he did not carefully plan for the Rebels’ multi-directional and dynamic offense. The Tide’s defense was beaten constantly in the middle where the safeties from the Rebels’ slot receivers. There were many failed coverage schemes from even before the play like on screens. There was a lack of overall pass rush until the last drive for the Rebels.
The most disrupting statistic is that Ole Miss was 9-for-17 on third downs and 6-for-7 on fourth downs. The Crimson Tide’s defense was unable to get off the field on third downs as they were getting beat consistently in key plays. In the Rebels’ six drives that ended in a touchdown, four of them of 10 or more plays. One of the touchdowns drives was 16 plays. The Crimson Tide defense will need to get back to playing some form of efficiency if they want to survive the season even with the top-ranked scoring offense in the nation.