Defense Staying Single Minded

The sting from Ole Miss's 43-28 win in Oxford, Miss. two years ago (the game was not as close as the score indicated) was a theme last year for the Tide in the week leading up to the home win, but the squad still hasn't forgotten that day.

"That and triple bypass surgery all kind of go in about the same category," Alabama Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said. "Jiminy Christmas, you'd like to forget all that. That day we didn't play very fundamentally sound."

Kines dismissed any claims of possible momentum or letdown from the Oct. 1 domination of Florida.

"That was about two light years ago," he said. "In normal life it wasn't long, but in football that was an eternity ago. We've got to focus on what we've got to do right now... We've got to take care of business today. That's the one thing we've been pretty steady at. We're not in any position to let go of the rope yet."

Kines was emotional and proud in the moments following the Florida game, but staying in the moment, at games and at practice, is what he expects to ensure his defense is ready Saturday. His defense has stayed with the task at hand well so far.

"I just go to bed every night praying they don't change," he said. "They don't pass out any mid-term trophies... Our guys are playing with some confidence, but Saturday is not near as important as today. We've got to get better today, tomorrow and Thursday or Saturday we won't have a chance."

Things have changed a lot with the Alabama defense since the game two years ago when Eli Manning tossed touchdown passes seemingly at will. Bama is ranked tops in the SEC in total defense (251 yards per game) and in third-down defense (25% opponents' conversions).

"Hopefully we're better," Kines said. "Hopefully we've improved some. I think our pass rush has gotten better. I think our coverage has tightened up."

With two weeks to watch film and study the Mississippi offense, Kines disclosed something undetected by most reporters and fans about the Rebel offense."

"Ole Miss has got probably one of the most dangerous individuals in the conference in Spurlock," Kines said Tuesday at Alabama's weekly news conference.

Most wouldn't put Spurlock in the top 25 of "most dangerous" in the SEC. He ranks eighth in the league in passing offense, with 196 passing yards per game. Spurlock has minus 35 rushing yards on the season. Ole Miss has been sacked 16 times.

Still, Kines sees Spurlock as a threat, mostly to run, this Saturday when the teams meet at 11 a.m.

"He's got extreme quickness," Kines said. "It's hard to hem him up. He's got escapability and does a good job with his feet. He's extremely dangerous and then on the bootlegs and waggles, when he attacks the perimeter he really does a good job throwing the ball on the run."

"Rush lanes are going to be extremely imporant this week. You can't go running off chasing ghosts. If you've got contain, best you contain. If you've got back side where you can pull him up, best you do that. If you don't you're going to get blistered."

Robert Lane has replaced Spurlock at times for the Rebels this season, but Kines said the Rebel offensive game plan does not change when Lane enters the game.

Kines will try to instill in his team respect for the Ole Miss offense this week, despite the perception that Saturday's game is a tune-up for Tennessee. Freshman running back Mico McSwain provides a true challenge. He is Mississippi's leading rusher, and has netted 391 yards on 52 carries (7.5 yards per rush attempt).

"If you don't gap up the run you're asking for trouble," Kines said. "Tackling is always a major concern," Kines said. "We work hard every day to try to emphasize that. We tried to do that last week with our young guys. At this point in the year everybody's done about all you're going to do, we just have to see if we can get better fundamentally. That's what we've hung our hat on and we don't need to go away from it now."

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