Gang Tackling

The Ole Miss coaches have great respect for the Alabama offense, most notably the Tide's run game, led by Tailback Trent Richardson. What's the solution? A bunch of Rebels around the ball at all times.

"Swarming the ball," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt when asked what is the key to stopping Alabama's offense.

"Gap control and gap responsibility are very important, obviously, but when number 3 (Trent Richardson) or number 42 (Eddie Lacy) get their hands on the ball, there have to be a lot of Rebels around them."

That's a sentiment shared by Rebel Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, as well.

"Alabama's offense is very efficient. They take care of the ball and they are very well-coached, a unit that plays with the proper fundamentals," noted Nix. "They execute well. We will have to do the same and we will have to swarm the ball.

Tyrone Nix
File Photo

"They have some powerful backs. They are strong, physical and they take care of the ball. They run behind their pads well. It will be the ultimate challenge for us and we will have to have several guys around the ball at all times. We have to play physical, we have wrap up and we have to get 11 guys to the ball."

Nix will be facing a relatively young quarterback guiding the Bama attack in A.J. McCarron, but he does not see an advantage in that.

"They've done an excellent job of coaching A.J. and teaching him how to manage the offense with limited turnovers. There were some turnovers early in the year, but none since then," Tyrone evaluated. "He's a quarterback who understands that the best thing he can do sometimes is simply hand it off to those backs.

"When they do throw, they have some weapons, particularly Marquis Maze, a very talented wideout."

This week, it appears the Rebs may be leaning on redshirt freshman DT Carlton Martin more.

"We're going to put our best 11 on the field. Carlton and Justin Smith are both rotating with the number one defense, but we feel Carlton has made a surge lately," Nix added. "We are just trying to get the guys in there who are healthiest and play with the proper pad level."

A couple of key Rebel defenders - namely MLB Mike Marry, LB Ralph Williams and DE Kentrell Lockett - have been a bit hobbled the last few games, but the open week, Nix believes, has helped them heal up some.

"The open week has helped them. They look better and have more bounce in their step. We'll see Saturday, but I know they feel better than they did," Nix stated.

Safety Damien Jackson said the Rebels are ready for the challenge.

Damien Jackson
File Photo

"Everybody is enthused, bringing the juice and working hard," said Jackson. "We've just tried to get better everyday."

Jackson knows what the Rebel defense will be facing.

"We respect Alabama, but we won't back down from anybody," he said. "Our coaches are pushing us and we are receptive. Again, it's about us getting better as much as it is about Alabama."

The Tide will have first-year starter A.J. McCarron under center. Are there tendencies the Rebs can prey on?

"Everyone has tendencies, but it all boils down to efficiency," said Jackson. "They are undefeated, so I'd say he has been pretty efficient."

The Rebel defense, according to Jackson, gets the bottom line, though.

"It will be a battle of wills and from our standpoint, it will be about swarming the ball and getting those guys on the ground quickly," he closed.

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