5 things Ole Miss did well against Alabama last year that the Tide must stop
Beating Alabama at college football is about as likely as William Shatner going to space. Wait, that’s going to happen, so maybe, just maybe, Ole Miss can beat the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
There’s reason to think it could happen. The Rebels played Bama tough last season when few other teams could. Ole Miss lost 63-48, but the Rebels were in the game for the entire contest. That’s no easy feat against one of the best offenses in the history of college football, which Alabama had last season. The Rebels led Alabama on 3 occasions despite being a 3-touchdown underdog.
The one thing that Ole Miss didn’t do well last season was play defense. The Rebels gave up 63 points. It doesn’t matter how good your offense is, it’s not going to beat a talented team if you give up that many points, as well as 723 total yards and 417 passing yards.
Here are 5 things the Rebels did last season that Alabama needs to stop — or at least slow down — Saturday:
The Rebels played fast — I mean — really fast
Ole Miss won the time-of-possession battle last year, but that wasn’t the goal. The Rebels played extremely fast last season as head coach Lane Kiffin tends to do when he likes his offensive players. He should like this group. Ole Miss has the top scoring offense in the SEC. The Rebels have averaged 52 points per game this season.
A fast-paced offense would help Kiffin and Ole Miss for several reasons. First, Alabama will score, too. The Crimson Tide is 2nd in the SEC with 46 points scored per game so Kiffin will need to keep up. Playing at a high tempo will also give Alabama’s defenders less time to adjust and substitute. That could equalize any talent gap between the teams.
The Rebels scored first
Ole Miss fired the first shot last season when it drove the ball 75 yards in 4 plays that ended in a 6-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Matt Corral. The drive took less than a minute. Kiffin didn’t hold anything back on the opening drive. That’s kind of his mantra, so you can be pretty sure he’ll have a script of plays ready to score quickly.
That will be even more important this season. Last season’s game was played at Ole Miss. The teams meet in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. A quick start could quiet the crowd a bit. After all, expectations are kind of high in those parts.
The Rebels were aggressive
This won’t be a challenge. Being aggressive fits right into Kiffin’s game plan most of the time. That was the case last season as Ole Miss converted all 4 of their 4th downs. Alabama has the talent edge. Ole Miss has to pull out all the stops to beat Alabama. Kiffin is fine with that.
The Rebels had zero turnovers
Ole Miss didn’t have a single turnover against Alabama last season. The Crimson Tide had 1. Of course, a Rebels turnover would give Alabama’s explosive offense another chance to score, but it also takes a possession away from Corral and Kiffin, who will win the Alabama game on offense or not at all.
The Rebels weren’t scared
Kiffin has that effect on players. No, he’s not a rah-rah type of emotional coach. At times in his career, he’s allowed assistants to carry that mantle. Kiffin may not be the coach that fires his team up with some cliched pregame speech but his presence around his team gives his players confidence that they can beat any team in the country.