The basics entering Saturday’s reunion of Alabama-Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa.
— When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
— Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium; Tuscaloosa
–Line: Alabama by 27 points
This game will determine…
It will show where Alabama’s retooled defense stands against an up-tempo offense with a history of putting up big numbers against the Tide. Though the Rebels don’t have all the weapons of 2015 and 2016, it still put up 960 yards and scored 86 points in the last two meetings.
Three things to look for
1. Ball control: The best way to keep the Rebel offense from getting momentum is to keep them on the bench. Alabama is built to control the clock when needed. It ran for 496 yards while possessing the ball for 42:55 of last week’s win at Vanderbilt. With a fully stocked stable of Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs to go with Jalen Hurt’s running abilities, this figures to be an old-school approach. Ole Miss also brings the No. 96 rush defense allowing 184.0 yards a game.
2. Conditioning: The last two Alabama-Ole Miss games went four-plus hours. This is where those off-season conditioning programs become crucial. “When they get those 10-12 play drives and they are going fast, that’s when your players really get worn out,” Saban said. “And if they’re not subbing people, it’s difficult to sub people.” The key here is curbing momentum on first downs. A decent gain to start the drive kicks the whole offense into gear. Stuff it and the fast pace is throttled.
3. Defensive touchdowns: They were a hallmark of the 2016 defense and especially critical in the 48-43 win over Ole Miss. The Tide had three non-offensive touchdowns including two fumble returns by defensive linemen. Though Alabama has yet to score a non-offensive touchdown in four games, it’s take eight turnovers from opponents. It is also the only team in the country to not give away a single turnover. Those quick-change situations have been key in previous meetings and could again…