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Jumbo Package: Tide rolls into Oxford

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. SEC play opens for the Tide this week in Oxford, against a formidable passing offense led by Jordan Ta’amu. Previews and predictions:

Hummer: The over under in this game is 68, and I think that’s rather low. Both of these teams will score, and I’m of the opinion Alabama will do so a lot. Ole Miss is an explosive offensive team, and it’ll give Alabama’s defense it’s biggest pre-November challenge. But that Rebel defense? Good luck corralling the Tide after allowing 41 against Southern Illinois last week … Alabama 54, Ole Miss 30.

Crawford: Get your popcorn ready. Tua Tagovailoa is going to give us a four-hour aerial dissection of a team that can’t stop a nosebleed. Jordan Ta’amu will hit the 300-yard passing plateau as well, but much of that yardage will come when the game is out of reach and already decided. Alabama covers in Oxford with a new season-high point total ... Alabama 62, Ole Miss 28.

Ole Miss scores 60 points per game, and the Rebels have their quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. That has us at least second-guessing whether Alabama can cover against a team that has given them trouble in the past. Then again, Alabama beat Ole Miss 66-3 last year. The scorched-Earth tour continues, and Nick Saban won’t be happy about the points given up afterward. Alabama wins 52-21 and COVERS the spread.

Do you think when the founding fathers of the SEC created the league in December 1932 in Knoxville while killing several bottles of Jack Daniels that they could imagine one day an All-Samoan starting quarterback showdown between two conference schools? But here we are in the SEC’s 86th season with the showdown of the Throwin’ Samoans, Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’amu vs. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. While Ole Miss is third nationally in the FBS in scoring offense, averaging 61.5 points per game, those performances were against defenses so bad that they rubbed off on the 2-0 Rebels, who played touch football defense in last Saturday’s 76-41 win over Southern Illinois. Alabama’s defense is a work in progress to become its usual dominant self filled with future NFL first-rounders, but it’s still considerably better than Ole Miss’ unit. Unlike past Tide teams that had struggled coming from behind when they had to throw the ball, this 2-0 Alabama squad thrives passing. In the Tide’s season opening beatdowns, Tagovailoa has yet to play an entire game yet he’s third nationally in pass efficiency. There won’t be a repeat of last year’s 66-3 mercy killing of the Rebs, but this one eventually won’t be close. Prediction: Fightin’ Tagovailoas 55, Fightin’ Ta’amus 30

The luster got wiped off this matchup a little bit last week when Ole Miss’ defense gave up 41 points and 627 yards against Southern Illinois. Because of that, it’s only logical to assume that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of the Crimson Tide offense will have their way with the porous Rebels defense. While that is probably true, the Tide defense will have its hands full with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, running back Scottie Phillips and wide receivers A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. Considering, outside of Deionte Thompson, the entire Tide secondary is new, shutting that group down is a big-time challenge. Ole Miss will put some points on the board early, hang on late, and not only cover -- but spring the outright upset. Pick Ole Miss (+21)

That last one is from poor Barrett Sallee, who picked Ole Miss in an upset before the season and just can’t see his way to correct himself even though there is no way he can possibly believe it.

The spread is what it is because Ole Miss has two glaring problems: a mediocre offensive line and a terrible defense. Ta’amu is unquestionably an excellent passer and he has an outstanding corps of WRs to throw to, but it will be tough to take full advantage if the line doesn’t give him time to push it down the field. Shifty RB Scottie Phillips, who Saban compared this week to Mark Ingram, has looked like a liability in pass pro as well.

The Tide LBs have been uneven in coverage thus far. Look for the Rebels to try and exploit that with a quick pass-rush-mitigating passing game, particularly between the hashes. If so, there won’t be many sacks to be had, but plenty of opportunities for big Quinnen Williams and company to get their mitts on the ball again. It is far easier to find yards with a short passing game than points, and red zone offense is particularly difficult when the offensive line is overmatched.

For those reasons, I look for Ole Miss to be able to possess the ball but end up with a lower point total than most are expecting. The over/under of 68 is reasonable, but not a gimme. Let’s call it 54-16.

Of course, that is just my opinion. Vote and give us your score in the comments.

Patrick Surtain II is making a name for himself already.

Great start for the young man. Dylan Moses seems also ready for the challenge.

“If we don’t put any pressure on him, if we don’t get into his face, he could really mark us up on defense,” linebacker Dylan Moses said. “It could get really bad if we don’t get pressure on him. It’s more like going against an NFL-type quarterback. He has a really great arm on him, too. We have to get him out of his rhythm. We have to get him out of his zone. Get in his face. Get him uncomfortable. I feel like we do that we have a chance of winning.

“... It’ll be a great test for us, I’ll say that. It’ll be a really great test. We’ll have many great tests later on down the road, but I feel that this is one of many that’ll show where we are as a defense.”

The Tide LBs are a key to the season going forward. Mack Wilson is rumored to have foot issues that could require surgery at some point. They are unconfirmed, but, well...

Let’s hope it’s something he can push through.

Tua Tagovailoa, on the other hand, is no longer a question mark in anyone’s mind.

“I didn’t make any bold predictions, but I did say that if he comes in, you’re about to see something you’ve never seen before. You will see a kid that looks like he’s a 10-year NFL vet playing quarterback,” Dilfer recalled. “I said ‘I guarantee you, one time in this half, he will look the safety off to the right and rip something down the left for a touchdown.’”

It was a moment he was ready for. Tagovailoa’s look-right-throw-left might have seemed like a split-second judgment. In fact, it was a well-practiced play.

“We started realizing that there’s plays that you can run with him that you can’t run with other people,” Dilfer said.

That’s the best way to describe the young man. He is reading defenses and placing the ball at a NFL level, with a bunch of future NFL talent protecting him and running the pass routes. The offense has found the end zone on over 70% of its possessions, and it’s easy to see why.

In NFL news, CJ Mosley was carted off the field last night, though it may not be too serious.

Maybe he won’t miss much time.

Last, check out this nursing home resident getting down to a little Snoop Dogg with Dre Kirkpatrick.

Hilarious, and kudos to Dre for the community involvement.

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

Roll Tide.

Poll

What will be Saturday’s result?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Saban says, "Luke, I am your father." Tide covers 21.
    (518 votes)
  • 11%
    With a rebel yell, Ta’amu turns it into a barn burner, Tide by 10-20.
    (73 votes)
  • 2%
    Too close for comfort, Tide by 9 or less.
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    Ole Miss wins (LOL)
    (10 votes)
618 votes total Vote Now