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Jumbo Package: Running Over the Rebels

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If Alabama keeps things simple, as expected, they shouldn’t have much trouble on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The Tide got the midnight shift this week against Ole Miss, so you’ll have plenty of time on Saturday to get the yard work done. Pictures are expected. We will open with a great piece from Aaron Suttles breaking down what we’ve seen from Alabama’s offense thus far:

“I would say that it’s definitely been a more straightforward, downhill, we’re-going-to-put-a-priority-on-the-run-game (type of offense),” UA radio color commentator Phil Savagesaid. “They still use multiple personnel groupings. They definitely formation people. But there’s not as much lateral eye candy, window dressing – there’s not as much of that like we saw under Lane Kiffin.

“The No. 1 thing I see is that he has definitely played to the strengths of the team, which is Jalen Hurts as a dual-threat quarterback and the stable of running backs with a solid offensive line. That part of it, to me, that’s the centerpiece of the offense this year. Obviously they’re trying to find some complementary receivers to go along with Calvin Ridley, but in a lot of ways with the exception of just mastering the drop-back passing game, they can do most anything. They have a comprehensive offense.”

As we mentioned in the preseason, Daboll has always run an offense built around the Erhardt-Perkins principles, which means simplicity first and foremost. Kiffin did a lot of things very well in Tuscaloosa and certainly managed to squeeze extra performance out of some fairly limited QB talent, but at times he seemed to complicate things more than he needed to. Sometimes, as a coach, it’s OK to know that your team is simply better than the opposition and doesn’t require a bunch of misdirection when power running with a couple wrinkles to keep the defense honest will do.

That is exactly what Daboll has done, and it has worked. Florida State certainly managed to limit the Tide in the opener, and there may still come a day this season when the Tide will have to find more of a passing game, but thus far it has been a thing of beauty. In particular, he has mixed in a healthy dose of both “zone” and “power” running, which is good for keeping the interior defensive linemen guessing as to which way you are trying to move them. Mostly, though, this OL has been mauling people:

The Tide has run the ball 186 times this season, which averages out to an incredible 4.11 yards per carry before contact. That is getting back to 2012 territory, folks, and in case you hadn’t heard, Ole Miss has had a horrible time stuffing very mediocre run games this season. Don’t expect to see much aerial action on Saturday.

Game coverage and predictions:

Why should people feel like Ole Miss has a chance in this game?

Ole Miss' passing game can be as explosive as any in the country if it's on. The Rebels' knack for big plays through the air -- they've racked up six touchdown passes of at least 24 yards in the teams' last three meetings -- have played a big part in their offensive success against Alabama in recent years, and with Brown, Metcalf, Jefferson and Lodge still around, the Rebels have the personnel to stress any defense on any part of the field. But will Ole Miss' banged-up offensive line be able to give Patterson enough time against Alabama's front seven to let those routes develop?

In turnover margin, Bama leads the league at plus eight. The Tide has recovered 2 fumbles and intercepted 6 passes and has not suffered a turnover. Ole Miss is at minus two and tied for 12th in the league, having made 3 interceptions and not recovering an opponent’s fumble, while losing 1 fumble and throwing 4 interceptions.

In the Red Zone (inside the 20-yard line), Alabama is third on offense with 17 scores in 19 trips for 89.5 percent with Bama getting 11 touchdowns and hitting on 6-6 field goals. Mississippi is sixth with 11-13 for 84.6 percent, 7 TDs, 4-5 FGs.

Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) went to Nashville last week and looked like the nation’s top-ranked team for the first time this season in a 59-0 trouncing of Vanderbilt.

It’s the Tide’s largest margin of victory in this win streak. The domination should continue Saturday night against Ole Miss.

Alabama began the week as a 28-point favorite.

Truly shouldn’t be any major interest in this game, but there is because Ole Miss (2-1, 0-0) is the only SEC team that's had recent success against the Tide.

The 28-point underdog Rebels are not the threat to upset Alabama like the past three seasons. Ole Miss won in 2014, 2015 and almost pulled one out in the final minutes last year after the Tide took a 24-3 first-half lead. This year Ole Miss comes in with an interim coach in Matt Luke, major sanctions hanging over the program and a really suspect defense. The offense with quarterback Shea Patterson and a deep receiving corps can really attack through the air. Patterson is throwing for 427 yards per game and completing 70 percent of his passes. Too bad the offense doesn't have a legit running threat to keep Alabama's defense from teeing off on Patterson on long yardage downs.

It’s not going to be a total wipeout like the Vanderbilt game, but Alabama will keep on looking impressive.

The Tide will get up early – and easily – Ole Miss will come up with a few second half scores, and some will be mad that it wasn’t a 59-0 apocalyptic destruction.

An easy blowout will have to do.

Currently Mississippi’s defense ranks 59thin college football and that is after playing 2 inferior teams and one lower-tier team from the Pac-12. Alabama’s offensive identity is beginning to take shape and I believe this will continue on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is running the ball, which makes Crimson Tide fans happy with that style of play. The Rebels’ offensive attack is respectable, but not enough to pull off the upset. Alabama’s hammer on Saturday will feel similar to the one the NCAA will bring to the Rebels in a few weeks.

Most folks don’t give the Rebels much of a chance, which is somewhat concerning since the Tide seemed to draw some additional motivation from Vanderbilt’s trash talk last week, along with a few in the media suggesting that the game would be close. Nobody is saying that this week. Has it affected the players in game prep?

Saban doesn’t sound terribly pleased about the week of practice. Ole Miss coach Matt Luke has been nothing but complimentary of Alabama this week, almost going out of his way to avoid providing any bulletin board material. Then this happened:

There you go, men. As Saban said this week, you shouldn’t need any external motivation, but images of what happened the last time you played Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa during #Pac12afterdark time should give you plenty.

Seriously, there isn’t much to say about this one. Alabama is going to run for 400 yards again. Ole Miss has a QB who can sling it, but has been notoriously turnover prone and ended up with pedestrian passer ratings in all four of his career games against Power 5 opponents. They will probably hit on some big plays, end up with somewhere around 300 passing yards, and Alabama fans will complain about it as we discuss the 48-17 victory.

That’s my score, what’s yours? Vote and tell us in the comments.

In other news, Lane Kiffin has a gift he’d like to give Coach Saban:

The Florida Atlantic coach is giving away an awesome cardboard cut out of himself on Twitter to a lucky contestant who likes, replies or re-tweets the photo of it.

Kiffin himself even re-tweeted the photo, as he has some playful intentions of bestowing the cut out to his former boss in Tuscaloosa.

“I’m trying to win it and then I’m going to sign it and mail it to Coach Saban. He can have a memory of me every day,” Kiffin said.

I’m sure it would go front and center in Saban’s office.

Last but not least, Coach ain’t got time for slow drivers:

He was one his way to visit his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter Wednesday night in his "little sports car."

"Some guy pulls up in some hot tamale Mustang like he wants to go," Saban said.

You can guess the rest.

"I mean, the competitor in me," Saban said. "It was over."

The little sports car just happened to be one of the high-end Mercedes-Benz models from one of the dealerships he owns.

Saban doesn’t often sound like an old man, but “hot tamale mustang” is pushing that envelope.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.


What will be the result of the Alabama vs. Ole Miss game?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Rebels yell," no more, no more, no more," Tide cover 28
    (417 votes)
  • 36%
    Tide sleepwalk but win comfortably by 14-27
    (268 votes)
  • 4%
    Ole Miss puts up a fight, Tide by 1-13
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Ole Miss wins? Really? Not even flagging it, you’re just dumb.
    (10 votes)
727 votes total Vote Now