Sooner or later the offensive line problems were going to cost Oregon. With Marcus Mariota constantly scrambling for his life and their running game sputtering, the Ducks put immense pressure on their mediocre defense and their Heisman candidate for the second consecutive game. Against Washington State, Oregon did enough to survive. Against Arizona on Thursday night, the Ducks didn’t. As a result, the nation's No. 2 team fell, 31-24, shaking up the early college football playoff conversation and the Pac-12 standings.
And so begins the weekend of wonder.
Saban likes the team chemistry still. There aren't many "energy vampires," who suck the life out of a team. The identity is still not developed.
DeAndrew White has been huge when healthy. "He's been a little unlucky when it comes to injuries." He sprained his toe against Florida. He'll be available to play, but not sure how much. Saban said they hope to "spot play" him. They'll determine it before kickoff.
You can listen to the entire radio show below.
Hey Coach! with Nick Saban, Oct. 2
The team's second-leading receiver has been injured twice and his status for Saturday's trip to Ole Miss remains uncertain. After separated his shoulder in the opener and missing the next two games, White sprained his toe against Florida.
"I think he will be available to play, I just don't know how much he'll be able to play in the game," Saban said Thursday night on his radio show. "We're hoping to spot play him, but it will probably be a decision we make in the pregame depending on how he's moving around."
White didn't practice last week before working back onto the field Tuesday. He's been able to practice "some" this week, Saban said.
Look, White is a good receiver, but considering the depth we boasted about all offseason, I can't be the only person confused about all of the hand-wringing over a receiver not named Amari Cooper.
A long list of linemen have lined up in the backfield from Terrance Cody (354 pounds) to Jesse Williams (319) and now Dominick Jackson (320). None have actually handled the ball in goal-line situations. They were there to block.
Not so for Ole Miss and 296-pound Jeremy Liggins. The junior college transfer is a former high school quarterback who has been quite effective in short-yardage situations. Typically loading up with a full-house backfield, Liggins has 10 carries for 29 yards. Seven of those 10 carries have gone for first downs including one touchdown.
Ole Miss has had occasional [turnover] issues so far this season entering the 2:30 p.m. Saturday showdown with the Tide in Oxford. The Rebels have lost nine in four games while the Tide surrendered seven. Fumbles accounted for five of Alabama's turnovers while interceptions have been more of the issue for Ole Miss. Senior quarterback Bo Wallace has thrown six so far compared to Blake Sims' two.
"Yeah, I don't think that I can overstate it," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "It will be one of the huge deciding factors in this game as to how we perform in regards to turnovers and negative plays that get us off track where we can't be in any kind of tempo. And Bo is a huge part of that."
“We want to get downhill on guys,” Kelly said this week. “The more that we can run the ball, the more it evens out the passing game.
“We don’t want to be a heavy pass team, but we’re going to take advantage of the looks we get. I’m not going to say that checking it out to wide receivers is a bad thing. We certainly want to run the ball down hill. We’ll see what happens this week.”
With Robert Nkemdiche and a skilled group of pass-rushers on the other side, nothing will come easy for Alabama’s offensive line. The way defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin likes to bring pressure can make for difficult blocking assignments.