The goal posts in Oxford were not the only thing that got broken last season.
Alabama saw its 10 win streak over Ole Miss snapped last year, and before it can think about starting a new win streak, the Crimson Tide has plenty of things to clean up.
“We were a little inconsistent in the way we played on both sides of the ball [last week],” coach Nick Saban said. “It’s going to be necessary for us to play better in this game, execute better, be more consistent, have better fundamental execution.”
One of the most important things Alabama needs to fix is the play from the quarterbacks. Saban said quarterbacks Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman need to take better care of the ball. Middle Tennessee could have easily gotten more interceptions than the two defense recorded last Saturday.
Alabama does not have a game plan for the how playing time among the quarterbacks will be divided up on against Ole Miss. Saban said if one guy is doing well the team might choose to only play one this weekend.
One player Saban saw improvement from in last weekend’s game was running back Kenyan Drake. Against Wisconsin he was trying too hard. Saban said he did a better job of allowing the big plays to happen around him against Middle Tennessee.
“I just thought after the first game Kenyan was trying to make a big play every time he got the ball,” Saban said. “The big plays will come. You have to let the game come to you.”
Another area Saban has seen improvement from is the Alabama secondary. Alabama’s defensive personnel should look similar to last weekend’s as Alabama is once again forced to field its nickel defense. Saban said Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram is one of the challenges the defense will have to meet.
“I don’t think we’ve played against the quality of receivers that Ole Miss has, so this will be a challenge for them,” he said. “They make a lot of big plays and they made a lot of big plays in the first two games. It’s going to be really important that our guys understand that we’ve got to not allow them to make big plays.”
Allowing big plays were something that came back to haunt Alabama in this matchup last season. Reviewing film from the loss will help the coaching staff ensure a different outcome this weekend.
“One of the most important things that we always do, especially when it’s the same staff, is you always look at what did they do last year,” he said. “It’s conceptually pretty much the same offense.”
The secondary’s improvement will be tested by an Ole Miss offense that is averaging over 70 points a game with Chad Kelly under center. Alabama’s offense will have to do its part to keep up if the game gets high scoring, but that might not be an easy task.
Saban said the offensive line needs to improve on pass protection. He said Ole Miss has one of the best defenses in the conference, but the challenges do not make him any less excited for this game.
“If you’re a great competitor you love to play in games like this,” Saban said. “This [game] is certainly going to offer as many challenges as anyone could hope for as a competitor.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports