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Jumbo Package: Is Alabama an Underdog?

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Everyone in the media has been pegging Ole Miss to upset Alabama since the spring. Does this mean Alabama is now actually the underdog?

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

But what about any football teammates? Could any of them beat him one-on-one?

“I’m not gonna lie to you, there probably are a few who can beat me,” Battle said, “but I still think I am the best one.”

Pressed for names, Battle said Terrion Arnold, Bryce Young and Kool-Aid McKinstry, who joined the Alabama basketball team after enrolling in January, could challenge him.

Young actually spoke about his love of basketball on a recent edition of his weekly podcast.

“If I was a little bit taller, I might be trying a different sport,” Young said, “but I’m a big basketball guy.”

Young laughed saying his game was like a “rec league version” of Stephen Curry’s as a freshman at Davidson. He likes to run around and shoot 3s “playing minimal defense.”

“I’m playing defense when it matters at this point in my life,” Young said.

I’ve gotta admit, I 100% did not expect Bryce Young to be one of the guys mentioned here. I knew Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid would be (both were legit recruited to play for Nate Oats), but Bryce? All 5’10” of him? Never expected it.

Yeah but what about the deep ball had been the review of Alabama’s first three games.

Accuracy had been solid on the short and intermediate passes, but what about the home runs? Well, there were a few in the final tune up for what figures to be an explosive Saturday with Ole Miss arriving in Week 5.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide hit eight passes of 20-plus yards in the 63-14 blowout of Southern Miss after recording just 10 such plays in the first three games combined. That lifted Alabama from No. 104 in that category all the way to No. 16.

Huh. It’s almost like only 3 games is a really small sample size to judge a football team’s ability/identity on. It took exactly one game for Alabama to go from 104th to 16th in 20+ yard passes. And when you’re already talking about a play type with naturally low frequency and high volatility, that can change in a hurry this early in the season.

We’ve definitely seen some changes in play-calling from last year’s offense, but they are nowhere near as drastic as many would have you believe. The biggest difference from 2020, right now, is that the screen passes that went to DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle just aren’t as effective with John Metchie.

Metchie is working to becoming a true #1 receiver, and he’s improving quickly in many facets, but he was primarily a deep threat last year. Give him a little time, and get JoJo Earle involved in the screen game, and I think the offense will start looking even more like that golden standard that was 2020.

“They harp on it,” To’o To’o told reporters on Tuesday. “It wasn’t the game that they wanted, it wasn’t the kind of performance on defense that they wanted. So this week’s been a huge harp on executing what we have to do. Ole Miss is a great team, they do great things on offense and it’s a huge challenge for us and we’re looking forward to that challenge.

“It’s all on us to execute throughout this week.”

Ole Miss (3-0) enters the upcoming game against Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) with the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense (52.7 points per game) and total offense (638.8 yards per game) and is among the top 10 in rushing offense (298.67 ypg, 4th) and passing offense (339.7 ypg, 10th).

The Rebels are averaging more yards per game than any other team in the country, but they’re ranked last in the SEC and tied for 109th nationally in number of plays at 249. That’s because Ole Miss uses a fast-ball system that can be a challenge for opposing defenses. To’o To’o said preparation will be key this week in order to quickly communicate on Saturday.

“Definitely try to get the call in fast,” To’o To’o said. “See the signal as fast as I can and just try to relay the message, echo the call as many times as I can before the ball is snapped. But the faster we get the call, the faster we can line up and play ball.”

Ole Miss is going to be a challenging opponent, no doubt. The good thing is, though, is that it officially cannot be a trap game. Everyone and their mothers have been circling this game since the offseason, everyone in the media and Twitter wants to pick Alabama to lose, and the Tide players know it.

For all of Lane Kiffin’s attempts to sandbag the last two weeks, I think that Alabama actually gets to play with a little bit of underdog mentality this week. If the team can harness that correctly (and not play over-emotional), it could wind up being very, very scary for the Rebels.

Also, I don’t for one second believe that Nick Saban hasn’t been strategizing for this game specifically ever since the Tide narrowly escaped last year.

Alabama was again well-represented during another week of professional football, as several former Crimson Tide players were contributors for teams across the National Football League.

Three former Alabama players scored touchdowns during Week 3 in quarterbacks Mac Jones (Patriots) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles) and cornerback Trevon Diggs (Cowboys). Hurts threw a pair of touchdown passes on Monday Night Football, but he was also picked off by Diggs, who took it to the house. Diggs has now intercepted a pass in all three games this season.

Other notable performances included a 100-yard rushing game from Derrick Henry (Titans), a 100-yard receiving game from Najee Harris (Steelers) and a 10-tackle game from C.J. Mosley. For Mosley, it marked the second consecutive game with 10 tackles for the linebacker.

Charlie Potter with 247 has you covered with the best weekly roundup of all the former Alabama players in the NFL. Keeping up with everyone gets harder every year, and with three starting QBs now out there, I’ve found myself watching teams I usually don’t this year.

And with over 100 receiving yards, Najee Harris is going to have to be careful he doesn’t swing the pendulum too far, or people are going to start labelling him as a receiving back that can’t run regular runs.