By: Ryan Mace
After two weeks of scoreless opponents, the Crimson Tide finally allowed a touchdown last weekend. Despite the touchdown late in the game, Alabama (4-0, 1-0) still came away with a 40-7 thrashing of the FAU Owls. Alabama scored 134 consecutive points before allowing the late score.
“We try to pride ourselves always on people not scoring on our defense,” Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said. “We try to get zero and have no one score on us. That’s a big accomplishment for us. They got in, at the end, one touchdown, but we still had a great game.”
The defense wasn’t the only highlight for Alabama. QB AJ McCarron threw for three touchdowns, including an early 85-yard strike to Kenny Bell. RB Eddie Lacy also rushed for 106 yards on 15 carries, all in the first half.
No. 1 Alabama will try to continue their dominating play this weekend against SEC Western Division foe Ole Miss (3-1), who is coming off of a rout of their own, defeating Tulane 39-0.
After giving up 66 points to Texas two weeks ago, the Ole Miss defense has restored confidence after the shutout of Tulane.
“One goal for the week was getting a shutout and that’s exactly what every defensive player wanted to do,” said Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche. “It was big time for us. We need this confidence.”
The Rebel offense had a big part in the victory as well, racking up over 300 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. QB Bo Wallace added a 23-yard touchdown pass as well.
Despite the dominating victory last week, Ole Miss hasn’t faced the type of talent Alabama brings to the table.
“They’re deeper than any team we have faced, particularly on the O-line and D-line and obviously other places too,” Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said. “Their defensive line, they can go three deep with very, very talented kids. They’re able to keep them fresh and that allows them to play with a high motor all the time. I know [Saban] requires that of his kids. When you’re able to play that many people and not have a significant drop-off, I think that even helps more. They have tremendous depth and tremendous talent.”
If Ole Miss is going to have any success against the best team in the nation this Saturday night, they’re going to need to find a way to use their strong running game against the Tide. Ole Miss is ranked 11th in the nation in rushing, racking up over 250 yards per game.
Despite the success in the running game, Freeze would like to see more balance in his offensive attack.
“We want to be close to 50-50,” said Freeze. “We’re probably skewed a little bit right now towards the rush. We’ve been in some games where we’re able to take control of the game, in three of them, and not have to throw as much. Hopefully as we get into league play it will be more balanced.”
Alabama will look to its depth on defense to stay undefeated. After losing many big names to the NFL Draft last season, players like Dee Milliner, Robert Lester and Damion Square are becoming the new staple of the Tide’s defense.
“It just lets you know that we have a lot of guys playing fast,” Square said. “You don’t want three guys to stand out above the rest, because I don’t think that’s a sign of a great defense. Great defenses spread it out across the board. We want everybody to do their assignment and make the plays they’re supposed to make. … If everybody takes care of their assignment then at the end of the year we’ll be where we need to be.”
Look for Ole Miss to try to establish the run in this game. If they’re going to have any success, they must be able to penetrate the Alabama front seven. If they can get a running game going, this should loosen up the Alabama secondary and give them some chances to eat up yardage. I don’t expect this to be the case, however.
Alabama 49 Ole Miss 13