This 2023 College Football season has been a near disaster for the #13 Alabama Crimson Tide (2-1). The Tide lost at home to the Texas Longhorn and nearly lost on the road to the South Florida Bulls last week. This Saturday, the Tide open SEC play with a lot of questions still as they host the #15 Ole Miss Rebels (3-0). The Tide have serious questions on the offensive side of the ball at quarterback and defensive line. Defensively, there are concerns as well, as they host an explosive Rebels offense. Head coach Nick Saban faces his former assistant Lane Kiffin. Alabama may come into this game as the favorite, but with more concerns than answers, they might as well be underdogs to a dangerous Ole Miss team.
Is #13 Alabama Doomed This Saturday Against #15 Ole Miss?
The Offense Needs Their Best Performance of the Season Against a Familiar Coach
The Crimson Tide have a tough ahead of them on Saturday as they take on the Rebels’ defense led by former Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding. The Rebels rank in the bottom of the half of the SEC in every major offensive category except for points allowed per game (16.7). However, this game will not determine how good the Rebels’ defense will be, it will show how the offense of the Tide will play.
Alabama’s offense ranks 54th in the nation in points (32.3) and 89th in total yards per game (341.3). Two of the biggest reasons for the lack of productivity on offense are the poor passing play and the terrible play of the offensive line.
The 17-3 win over South Florida is the prime example of the poor play on offense. The offensive line was bullied at the scrimmage by giving up five sacks and ten tackles for loss. Even with the poor play of the offensive line, starting quarterback Tyler Buchner was unprepared and ineffective in passing the ball.
The Tide are going back to Jalen Milroe, who still had concerns about reading the field in passing plays. Ole Miss’ defensive line and the secondary have played well through the first three games. The Rebels have accounted for 10 sacks and 14 pass breakups.
Alabama can find success by running the ball against the 66th rushing defense (123.7). The biggest problem is when the offensive line gets one player to make a tackle in the backfield or the line of scrimmage. As well as, when offensive coordinator Tommy Rees abandons the run game. Alabama needs to be vigilant and run the ball.
The Defense of Alabama Prepares for an Elite Ole Miss Offense
The good news about Alabama last week was the defense shutting down the Bulls’ offense. Ole Miss is not like South Florida, however. The Rebels have the fourth-best scoring offense (52.7) and 10th-best total offense (520.7) in the nation. Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart has become one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football. He is eighth in the nation in quarterback rating (202.4) and the best in the SEC.
The Rebels have two high-caliber receivers who have eclipsed 200 yards this season. Alabama needs cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold to play more efficient man coverage than in the loss to Texas two weeks ago. Four of the five touchdowns that Alabama allowed have come from the passing game
Pass rushers Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell can be significant difference makers by pressuring Dart to make bad throws. They were not efficiently impactful players two weeks in the loss versus Texas. They have a chance to make up for their early season lack of presence against one of two teams still undefeated in the SEC West.
Last Word On Alabama Taking on Ole Miss
Arguably, this game may be the first time that the Crimson Tide is more likely to lose a regular season game than win. Tide faithful are confident that Alabama will find its way out of a tough situation just because Saban is the head coach. History aside, there is nothing Alabama has done this season that could make it seem like a serious playoff contender. Ole Miss has been the more consistent team this season. Alabama has been in prove-it mode for two weeks and they have yet to prove. This game could be the nail in the coffin for a championship season.