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Alabama vs Ole Miss preview: When the Crimson Tide has the Ball

Still not a night game, but things look quite dark for Ole Miss

NCAA Football: California at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Rebels are coming off of a heartbreaking 28-20 loss to the now #15 Cal Golden Bears. In this game, the Rebel defense gave up 373 yards in the air and 66 on the ground and forced one turnover. So far in 2019, Ole Miss ranks 71st in the country in total defense, giving up an average of 288 yards in the air and 95 on the ground— an average of 5.34 yards per play. This ranks higher than the 2018 campaign for the Rebels, in which they had a defensive S&P+ rating of 31.2, good for 90th in the country.

The Ole Miss defense is led by defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre is entering his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Rebels. He has spent his previous 8 years as a head coach for San Jose State and then most recently at Colorado. MacIntyre typically plays an extremely aggressive base 3-4 defense.

The defensive line is led by 6-4 325-pound senior Josiah Coatney and 6-1 329-pound senior Benito Jones (remember him, recruiting fans?). Both have been starters since 2017 for the Rebel defense and were named to 2019 preseason All-SEC teams. So far this season, Coatney has 14 total tackles and 1 sack and Jones has 13 total tackles and 1 interception.

The linebacker corps for the Rebels are manned by 6-3 252-pound senior Qaadir Sheppard and 6-0 235-pound junior Lakia Henry. Sheppard started 10 games last season for Ole Miss and was fifth on the team in total tackles. So far this season, he has 10 total tackles. Henry is a new face for the Rebel defense in 2019. So far, he is tied for the lead in total tackles for the Rebel defense with 23 total tackles and 1 pass deflection. Perhaps the most talented linebacker for the Ole Miss defense is MoMo Sanogo, who was 5th in the SEC in tackles last season. Unfortunately, though, Sanogo injured his ankle in the Arkansas game and is out until probably mid-November.

The Ole Miss secondary is led by 5-10 192-pound senior corner Jalen Julius and 5-11 211-pound senior safety Myles Hartsfield. Julius made 8 starts last season and had 34 total tackles and 3 pass deflections. So far this season, he has 23 total tackles and 4 pass deflections. Hartsfield made 8 starts last season and had 41 total tackles and led the team in pass deflections with 7. So far this season, he has 16 total tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception.

Again, credit to Zane Murfitt for these awesome match up graphics. If you guys like the format, we’ll keep embedding these charts into the weekly previews.

The Matchup:

The Alabama passing offense is leaps and bounds better than Ole Miss’s defense, but the Rebels have a formidable rushing defense that should give Najee Harris and crew a tough challenge to keep the ball moving on the ground in attempting to continue their success from the week before against Southern Miss.

Ole Miss has been absolutely exceptional at getting “havoc” plays, so the Alabama offense will have their work cut out for them in keeping mistakes to a minimum and making sure the Rebel defense doesn’t manage to give their team a shot of energy after some big stops or turnovers.

Last season, Alabama beat Ole Miss 62-7. This is a different year, but things will likely be pretty similar. The score probably won’t be as lopsided on Saturday, but it won’t be close either. Tua and his receiving corps will put up big numbers as usual through the air. The only difference will be on the ground. Alabama rushed for 210 yards against the Rebels last season and passed for 306. The passing yards will be pretty similar to last year, but Ole Miss has a better rush defense in 2019 and Alabama hasn’t run the ball as effectively this season.