This week No. 1 Alabama is reminded of the one blemish in last year’s perfect season. The Ole Miss Rebels have given Alabama two of its last three losses. The upperclassmen still remember witnessing the Rebel fans storm the field the last time Alabama was at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“It was bad. It was a disappointing feeling,” senior tight end, O.J. Howard said. “I was part of the last play of the game, so it was pretty bad on my part too. It was just a bad experience.”
Now Alabama is going back to Oxford, Mississippi on Saturday, and the team is ready to finally get its revenge. This is the first SEC road test for Alabama, and Ole Miss is ranked No. 19 with one loss to the second ranked team in the nation, Florida State.
“We know it’s going to be a rowdy environment. They are going to be in the game for 60 minutes. The fans are going to be pretty intense like last time,” Howard said. “We’ve just got to go out there with our poise and do what we do. We have to execute plays that are going to be called and I think when we do that well it eliminates the fans.”
Poise is something the Crimson Tide lacked inside the confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. When the Rebels upset the team last year, Alabama totaled a season-high five turnovers. Those turned into points and Ole Miss finished with 43 total points, the most the defense gave up all season.
“Well, we didn’t do so well in the rematch game last year against these guys. That’s probably the worst game we played here for a long time,” Saban said. “[We] turned the ball over five times and gave up three explosive plays on defense on really mental errors. So these are the types of things that I think the emphasis has to be on. If you make those kinds of plays you’re going to struggle.”
Saban wants the team to focusing inward rather than outward. He said the team was nervous coming out of the gates last year, because they were focused on Ole Miss and not on their individual assignments.
This year’s team is a new group with new leaders. In the last two seasons, the game ended in misery for the Crimson Tide, but if the team takes a different approach, the players and Saban think it will produce a different outcome.
“I felt like we put too much pressure and too much emphasis on revenge [last year],” senior defensive tackle, Jonathan Allen said. “So we are definitely not focusing on that this year. We are focusing on doing well.”
Other notable quotes:
Saban on injuries:
“We don’t have any significant injuries. Cam Sims should be back. Some guys will be in black jerseys today but I don’t think it will be an issue or the game.”
Saban on last week’s run game:
“If we block them right, we should have 4- and 5-yard runs – if we get movement, if have the right hand placement, if we step the right way. Those are all the things, to me, that I’m talking about that we need to do better,” Saban said. “Is it easier to run when you’ve got a light box? Yes. But I think regardless of what the box is, if you do it correctly and you execute it correctly you’ve got a much better chance of having success.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports