Hunker Down

Mike Markuson knows exactly what it will take for the Rebels to take the Tide down. The best game of the year. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator/offensive line Coach Mike Markuson has a great deal of respect for the Crimson Tide defense.

He said, bluntly and flatly, it's as good as last year's Alabama defense, that paced Bama to a national title.

"Alabama plays with great pad level, great explosiveness and excellent fundamentals. If you don't play that way, if you don't deliver the same type of blow they do, it will be a long day," said Mike. "We have to play with great energy, great pad level and basically play our best game of the year. We can't make mistakes, specifically turnovers. They will kill you if you turn the ball over.

"They are outstanding, unbelievable, the best defense I have seen in a long time. To me, they are as good as they were last year, which is really, really good."

Markuson said the Rebels will have to strap everything up tight and get ready for 60 minutes of rugged SEC football.

"We have to play for 60 minutes and see what happens," he continued. "Number one, we can't get in third-and-longs or get behind on them. They go in a feeding frenzy when those things happen.

Mike Markuson

"They throw all kinds of looks at you and work off confusion and aggression. They are a well-coached team and you hve to stay out of bad situations. That's what happened here last year against them. We were in third-and-long all day and we paid the price. We have to find a way to get four yards on first down - that's the most important thing. Move the chains, run clock and try to score some points."

Markuson does not believe Alabama will stray too far away from their base seven-man front, a 3-4 look most of the time.

"They may bring an eighth man in the box sometimes, and they will disguise coverages and come after you, but I can assure you they are confident they can match their front seven against our seven," said Mike. "If he wants to bring that extra guy down, they will do that every once in a while, but they are pretty comfortable with that seven being able to handle things up front."

The Rebels got some offensive rhythm going, particularly in the last two games, which is good, but they will most likely be playing against the Tide without one of the key elements of that two-game offensive surge - center A.J. Hawkins.

He is most likely out with a shoulder stinger and true freshman Evan Swindall, who is from Alabama, will get his first collegiate start.

"Evan had a great two days Tuesday and Wednesday. He's a very hard worker and a great kid. He takes coaching. I am excited for him. He's going back home. He cares and I think he's going to do well," Markuson noted. "We have to throw him in the fire - it's his turn.

"He will have to be a great leverage guy and play with great fundamentals."

Getting down to the lick log, the Rebels have to play at another level than they have shown all year, basically.

"We will have to embrace the moment, have things come together and have a great, great game," Mike closed. "It's a great opportunity for us. We have done well in the last couple of games. We have to keep doing what we are doing and execute at a high level.

"We need to keep their offense off the field and make some things happen in our favor, especially early. You don't need to get behind those guys."

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