Tide Must Be Ready For Rebel Tricks
A year ago it was more than a little bit suspicious that the Southeastern Conference schedule had Alabama facing six of its eight SEC opponents after those six had open dates. This year only three teams have bye weeks – Vanderbilt last week, Ole Miss this week, and LSU prior to the much-anticipated Nov. 5 game in Tuscaloosa. And the LSU open date is a wash since Alabama is also open the week before that game.
Crimson Tide coaches and players acknowledge that they have to be ready for more unusual schemes or looks or other changes when a team has an extra week to prepare, but the standard response is that Bama will play its game and make any adjustments needed.
In the category of, "How is that working for you?" Vanderbilt revamped its offensive front for the Alabama game, switching the entire left side of the line. After starting four games at center, Wesley Johnson moved back to left tackle, the position he started all 12 games of the 2011 season. Ryan Seymour moved from left tackle to left guard, giving the Commodores a more physical presence at the position. The ability to move Johnson and Seymour came as Logan Stewart returned to full health. Stewart, who started at center as he did in 2010, is fully recovered from a preseason illness.
Final score: Alabama 34, New Look Vandy 0.
This week Bama, 6-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC games and ranked second in the nation, will kick off against Ole Miss at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. ESPN2 will televise the game. Ole Miss is 2-3 overall and 0-2 in SEC games.
Alabama is 2-0 on the road this year, defeating Penn State 27-11 and Florida 38-10.
This is Bama's 55th consective week to be ranked in the Associated Press poll, which is the longest streak in the nation. The Tide has been ranked since the final poll of the 2008 season.
This will be the third time in four years the Rebels have faced an Alabama team ranked in the nation's top five. In 2008 Alabama was a 24-20 winner and in 2009 en route to the national championship the Crimson Tide prevailed by 22-7.
Alabama has an all-time record of 48-8-2 against the Rebels (although NCAA actions have changed the mark to 48-8-2). In the previous nine games played in Oxford, Bama has won seven (although three of those wins were taken away by the NCAA).
Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has an all-time record of 8-1 against Ole Miss. His LSU teams (2000-04) were 4-1 and his Bama teams have a 4-0 mark against the Rebels.
The Tide's attendance average will take a hit this week. Five Alabama games have drawn over 100,000 (four in Bryant-Denny Stadium at capacity of 101,821 each) and at Penn State (107,846, the largest crowd ever to see an Alabama game). At Florida the crowd was the second largest in Florida Field history at 90,888. Vaught-Hemingway capacity this week is 60,580.
Alabama tailback Trent Richardson has had five consecutive games in which he rushed for 100 or more yards, which is tied for the nation's best streak this year. It is second in Crimson Tide history to the six straight 100-or-more-yard rushing games Shaun Alexander had in 1999.
But Richardson has not had his best running days against Ole Miss. In 2009 he rushed nine times for 40 yards and last year he had 11 carries for 45 yards (although he had 220 all-purpose yards with five receptions for 101 yards and three kickoff returns for 74 yards).
Additionally, Richardson has only one lost fumble in his 451 career touches, including 387 in a row dating back to his freshman year in 2009 at Ole Miss.
Alabama has given up the least amount of touchdowns in the nation this season (5). The Tide leads the nation in rushing defense (39.83 yards per game) and rushing yards per carry (1.57 yards per carry).
Alabama's defense has allowed only four rushes of more than 10 yards this season (leads the nation). The next closest in the nation is Florida State and Louisville (11 each).
The SEC has four of the top 10 teams in the nation in passing yards allowed per attempt. Alabama is third (4.5), South Carolina fourth (4.6), LSU sixth (5.2) and Georgia seventh at 5.5. Central Florida leads the nation, giving up an average of 3.7 yards per pass attempt.
Half of the 12 SEC teams are in the nation in total yards allowed per play. Alabama is first (3.2), LSU fourth (3.8), Georgia and South Carolina sixth (4.1), Florida and Vanderbilt 12th (4.5).
Alabama has thrown only four interceptions this year, all in the season-opening game, two by A.J. McCarron and two by Phillip Sims. For the second consecutive week the Tide will be playing against one of the best teams in the nation at making interceptions. Last week, McCarron extended his streak of passes without an interception to 127, the sixth longest streak in Alabama history. Brodie Croyle holds the record at 190.
After recording just six interceptions last season, Ole Miss has picked off eight passes in five games this season. The Rebels posted four interceptions against Southern Illinois for the first time in a game since the 2010 Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State. Ole Miss is tied for fourth in the SEC and 13th in the nation in interceptions.
Alabama's fourth quarter domination this year includes:
Bama has outscored its opponents by 52-8.
Alabama has 607 yards, opponents 292.
The Tide has averaged 7.06 yards per play, opponents 2.89.
Bama has rushing yardage of 523, opponents 116.
Alabama averages 6.97 yards per carry, opponents 2.47.
The Tide has a passing percentage of 81.8 (9-11), opponents 42.6 (23-54).
Alabama passing efficiency is 175.96, opponents 55.16.
BamaMag Top Stories
Crimson & Blue Chips: October 21Alabama takes on TAMU Saturday and it will be big on the field and in recruiting as well and we look in-depth at it all.
'Bama Football Recruiting Q&A - 10/21Alabama has a massive game Saturday and its recruiting list reflects it. Dig into the latest trends, visitors and names to know in this week's BamaMag Recruiting Q&A.
New BamaMag members get another great perkAnother great partnership from the folks at Scout.com brings a big benefit to new BamaMag/Scout members!
SEC Games Tough To PredictAlabama vs. Texas A&M headlines week of interesting SEC selections