Tide prepping for potent — and unique — Rebels offense
Ole Miss, which plays at No. 1 Alabama Saturday, and Texas A&M, which hung 42 points on Alabama two weeks ago, may have similarly potent offenses capable of spreading defenses.
But, really, that’s where the similarities end.
The unbeaten and No. 21-ranked Rebels, averaging 38.0 points per game this season in three wins, attack defenses in a different way than Johnny Manziel & Co. do. That doesn’t necessarily mean good news for the Tide, which would no doubt love to never have to see Manziel and receiver Mike Evans again. It just means the Tide (3-0 overall, 1-0 in SEC) has to prepare a little differently for what the Rebels do.
“I think Ole Miss has a very, very good running game from (its spread formations),” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday. “I think A&M really is more of a zone-dive, quarterback-run type offense where Ole Miss runs a lot of sweeps, a lot of perimeter plays, a lot of really difficult play-action passes off their running game.
“I think the two offenses — even though the formations may be similar, the philosophy is not the same. I think what both teams do is particularly effective for the players that they have. I think Ole Miss does a great job with the players that they have and featuring the players they have and what they do best.”
One of those featured players is running back Jeff Scott, who’s rushed for 330 yards and two touchdowns in three games and has helped the Rebels average 250 rushing yards per game, second best in the SEC. Scott torched Texas two weeks ago for 164 yards and a touchdown.
“We think he’s a fantastic player,” Saban said of Scott. “He’s got great speed, very instinctive, good receiver, runs the ball extremely well on the perimeter. I think it’s very difficult to simulate the speed of their offense and the speed that they have on offense, especially running perimeter plays. We think he’s an outstanding running back as well as a great punt returner.”
Other offensive weapons for Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0) include quarterback Bo Wallace, who’s passed for 648 yards and four touchdowns this season, and tight end Evan Engram, who’s caught 11 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, like Saban, doesn’t see a lot of parallels between his offense and the Texas A&M offense, and therefore didn’t exactly pick up any tips from watching the tape from that score-fest in College Station.
“As far as the A&M game, we don’t take hardly take anything away from it because we’re just so different in what we try to do,” Freeze said. “… Other than tempo — we’re very similar there — after that there’s not a lot that we can say. This is just who we are.”
What he did notice on tape, however, is that the Alabama defense is once again a salty one, even though many observers view it as somewhat subpar this season after what it’s shown through three games.
“It hasn’t changed much from the last few years,” Freeze said of the Bama D. “You see a team that is very, very disciplined. They don’t get out of position. They understand what is asked of them and what everyone else is doing. They play extremely hard and physical. Even the plays they’ve given up this year the kids are in the right spot; they may have just lost a one-on-one battle with a player that made a play … They’re a very solid defense.”
Saban said Wednesday that defensive back Nick Perry will be out for Saturday’s game and added that he’ll probably need surgery, although the surgery has not yet been scheduled.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game between the Tide and Rebels is set for 5:30 p.m. CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will televise the game.
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