Were you waiting for Alabama’s Lane Kiffin – the offensive coordinator who called the Crimson Tide’s plays against Ole Miss – to get a Nick Saban ass-chewing?
In the first half of Alabama’s 48-43 win over Ole Miss Saturday, Alabama seemed to be all East and West until the final couple of minutes. Not until Bama was down 34-3 late in the second quarter did Bama puncture the Mississippi middle. Quarterback Jalen Hurts threw down the middle for a 22-yard gain to Calvin Ridley, and followed that up with a quarterback draw that got another 22 up the gut.
But for most of the first half it was jet sweeps and bubble screens. Between drives at the end of the first quarter and start of the second, Alabama ran 12 plays with no running back touching the football. This was from a team that would finish the game with 48 rushes for 334 yards, an average of 7.0 per carry.
Bama had 57 yards rushing in the first quarter, 59 in the second, 131 in the third, and 87 in the fourth.
Saban said, “I think that a lot of the stuff we did in the first half set up some of the things that we did later on. But I also thought that we could execute these things. And if you look at them on the film, if we would have blocked them correctly – again, attention to detail and execution – they would have been better plays.
“I think that we were trying to run the ball on the perimeter to see if we could get them tired, which we did. Then we had a lot more direct runs later and played a lot more physical interior line play for us and had success running the ball inside.
“Sometimes one of these things builds on the other. I think that was the plan in the game. They got pretty good speed on defense and they trapped us down pretty good on the edges. We came back and ran the ball inside off of some of the same motions and the same formations.
“That’s what you folks don’t sometimes get the grasp of on the jet sweep. Now you’re handing the ball and running a counter the other way and they’re all running out there because you ran the play in the first half, now you bust them on this play.
“But you all don’t see that. You just see, ‘We ran that play good so why don’t we run it more?’”
If you were wondering what was going on, you weren’t the only one, Saban said.
“My wife’s the same way. ‘Why didn’t we run that play in the first half?’ No different. (Daughter) Kristen, same way. They’ve got all the answers.”