Treadwell, Engram are tough receiving tests for Crimson Tide defense
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze saying that his players have to win some one-on-one matchups against Alabama maybe one of the biggest understatements of the week especially considering that the Rebels didn’t find the end zone against the Crimson Tide last year.
It’s also what the Ole Miss offense especially likes to do, going no-huddle to not only get a defense on its heels, but also to find a matchup that it likes and then not allow the other side to counter.
Even without that, though, sophomore Laquon Treadwell would still be a player to watch Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), as he’s considered one of the best wide receivers in the nation.
“He’s a very quick receiver, explosive,” junior safety Landon Collins said. “You get the ball in his hands and he can do basically anything with it. We have a lot of respect for him and we’re definitely going to look to him and not turn our backs to him because he can be a game-changer.”
Treadwell is listed as 6 foot 2, 229 pounds, and so far this season he has 20 receptions for 309 yards. While his numbers lead the Rebels it’s not by much as Vince Sanders has 18 catches for 261 yards and Cody Core has 17 for 277. Overall, 14 different Ole Miss players have already made receptions this season.
“Well, he’s obviously to me, an outstanding player,” Nick Saban said about Treadwell. “He’s got really good size, he’s a really good athlete. He’s got a big catch radius. He can get in and out of breaks. He plays with a lot of toughness, very physical blocker so he’s the complete package when it comes to size, speed and athleticism and toughness as a receiver.”
Meanwhile, Alabama’s cornerbacks are a bit of a question mark. The players who figure to match up better in terms of size are on the left side (to the quarterback’s right), where sophomore Eddie Jackson and freshman Tony Brown are competing to start this week. Jackson is coming off knee surgery in April and sustained a quad injury against Southern Miss.
Brown started in his place against Florida and appeared to hold his own, making three tackles and snuffing out a run his way for a loss. Jackson is listed as 6-0, 188, and Brown 6-0 198.
Junior Cyrus Jones, who has started every game this season, is 5-10, 194. Considering that Core is even bigger than Treadwell don’t be surprised if given the chance Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace attempts a fade or two into the end zone.
“We went through this last year in a couple of games when we tried to put a guy on a guy in a game of no-huddle and it really is difficult for the corners to get lined up so you really can’t,” Saban continued. “I think whoever is on him is going to have to study him and play him and play him well and keep him cut off.
“We’re going to have to execute and do what we do better than they do what they do. That’s what it’s going to come down to. He’s an outstanding player and that’s a difficult task.”
Last year when Ole Miss also had Donte Moncrief, Treadwell made four receptions for 51 yards against the Crimson Tide.
The other tough match up in the passing game is Evan Engram, who at 6-3, 227 is anything but a prototypical tight end and a tough coverage assignment for a linebacker. He has 14 catches for 175 yards.
“He’s like a hybrid tight end, receiver,” junior linebacker Denzel Devall said. “We have to be on our Ps and Qs. He’s a great athlete. He can make big plays. We are going to be locked and loaded and ready.”