TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama will look to put a sloppy game against USF behind them as they take on Ole Miss in a pivotal SEC West matchup to open conference play.
After an ugly 17-3 win over USF, Alabama will have more questions than answers coming into this game. Tyler Buchner got the start at quarterback last week and had a bad day, going 5-for-14 for just 34 yards. Ty Simpson came into the game late in the fist half, and while he was better, he still did not show the ability to really push the ball down the field in the passing game. Simpson went 5-for-9 for 79 yards, and lead Alabama on two touchdown drives, despite not throwing one.
Jalen Milroe will play Saturday against the Rebels, providing the most stability at the position. He did struggle against Texas, but after the game Saturday, he looks like the best guy for Alabama, for better or worse.
Milroe will have to play quarterback behind one of the most questionable offensive lines that Alabama has had in a long time. Reading blitzes and picking them up was a real issue against USF, and Ole Miss will send pressure to try and take advantage of that. Freshman Kadyn Proctor was beat multiple times at that left guard position, and with Tyler Booker out, he only looked worse.
Looking at the Rebels, they have looked like a Lane Kiffin lead team. The offense has been on fire, with quarterback Jaxson Dart throwing for over 800 yards and seven touchdowns, to just one interception. He is also the leading rusher, with 213 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. 146 of those yards and both touchdowns came against Georgia Tech in his last game, a 48-23 Ole Miss win.
The biggest issue for Ole Miss has been the defense. After a 73-7 win over Mercer in week one, they have let up 20 points in a close game against Tulane, and 23 points in the previously mentioned game against Georgia Tech. The Rebels currently rank 66th in total defense and give up 4.40 yards per play on average.
Alabama will have to take advantage of that, and with former Crimson Tide coordinator Pete Golding coaching the Ole Miss defense, there is some similarity to his schemes. His teams at Alabama normally gave up a lot and tried to bend and not break. Ole Miss tries to do the same thing, and if Alabama can get in the endzone a couple of times, the defense might break down no matter where they are on the field.
With the game set for 2:30 pm kickoff on CBS, Alabama will have the eyes and ears of a lot of the national media on them. If they can overcome this challenge, the team will have more momentum than ever, and at the perfect time too.
Joe Schatz is a senior writer for WVUA-FM and co-hosts The Low Tide from 7-8 p.m. on 90.7 FM on Sunday nights. He also co-hosts the 4th and Goal podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and online at https://www.voices.ua.edu.