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Alabama Football Film Room: Tide defense has rough time against the Rebels

It was not a great outing for the Alabama defense

Alabama vs Ole Miss Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

That was a doozy.

Alabama had some amazing offensive performances in the first two games for me to highlight, and that continued against Ole Miss. Najee Harris had 206 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Mac Jones had another 400 yard game while completing 87.5% of his passes. DeVonta Smith hauled in 164 yards receiving while adding a touchdown.

But I had to do something on the defense this time.

Alabama allowed 647 yards and 48 points. Ole Miss averaged 7.5 yards per play and went 9-17 on third down and 4-4 on fourth down.

1st and 10: Ole Miss sends the slot receiver in motion right to left, which brings the safety on that side, Jordan Battle (#9), closer to the line of scrimmage and sideline. The quarterback Matt Corral stares him down while faking the handoff to the running back. Christian Harris (#8) bites hard on the play fake and is starting to pursue the back while Corral is already starting to throw. The tight end chipped Christopher Allen (#4) before running down the seam. With Battle and Allen playing the motion man and Harris fooled, there’s a wide open window for the tight end Kenny Yeboah. He catches it 11 yards downfield and sidesteps Daniel Wright (#3), who whiffs hard on the tackle. Patrick Surtain (#2) and Harris track Yeboah down, but not before he’s gained 52 yards. Ole Miss scores a touchdown two plays later.

3rd and 27: Alabama is in great position after an offensive pass interference call. There’s nothing fancy here, unfortunately. No motion, no eye candy, just some split zone. There’s a receiver out of screen at the bottom with a corner on and a safety shaded his way, and the other safety is back deep as well. The defense is playing it safe, also having six defensive backs, four linebackers, and just one lineman. The H-back comes back across and blocks Allen. The center double team handles the only defensive lineman, Christian Barmore (#58), and easily moves him with a tiny bit of help from the left guard. The right tackle neutralizes Will Anderson (#31), and the right guard gets to the second level and blocks the dropping Christian Harris with help from the left guard, who has also made it to the second level. Dylan Moses (#32) thinks the handoff was a playaction and is also dropping back into the coverage with his back to what’s actually going on. DeMarcco Hellams (#29) is slow to react and hesitates; Daniel Wright also hesitates. And Jerrion Ealy shoots between them, though at least Hellams makes some contact. Battle smashes into him, knocking him off balance; and Harris, who recovered and chased the play, finishes it off. But it’s a 22 yard gain and sets up a much closer fourth down.

4th and 5: Ole Miss has three receivers bunched on the left, and they move the running back to Corral’s left side. The receivers all run routes to the right while the running back wheels out of the left. Since Alabama is in man coverage, the receivers essentially function as blockers; and Christian Harris can’t get through the traffic to come anywhere near Jerrion Ealy. It’s an easy pitch and catch for a big gain on fourth down. Ole Miss scores on the next play.

3rd and 8: Alabama has held on the runs on first and second down to force third and long. Ole Miss is in a familiar formation: one receiver wide on either side, Corral and the running back in the pistol, an in-line tight end on one side and the slot receiver as the H-back on the other. Alabama has six DBs, 4 LBs, and 1 DL again. Malachi Moore (#13) follows the slot receiver/H-back to the right. Moses looks like he may have been tasked with spying Corral, so he’s not moving to the right. Christopher Allen, the only guy who can set the edge and possibly make a play, is in pass-rush mode. He attacks inside, which is just fine by the right tackle, who now has an even easier job. Snoop Conner takes the handoff for an easy (I’m using this word a lot, huh?) first down.