Bama Is Bama

Rebel Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner knows what is facing the Ole Miss offense Saturday when they line up against the Alabama defense. Same story, different verse.

Be forewarned, you have read this story before.

It comes around once a year, in fact.

When an Ole Miss offensive coordinator is asked about Alabama's defense, one could go back in the annal of interviews some 50 years and get virtually the same response annually.

"There aren't too many weaknesses, I can tell you that," said Reb OC Dan Werner. "They are big, physical, sound and they run well. They get a bunch of guys who eventually go to the NFL and then reload the next year."

Sound familiar?

Werner is not fooled by the 600-yards and 42 points Texas A&M laid on the Tide a couple of weeks back.

"They had a couple of corners out that game. That explains at least part of it," said Werner. "The other thing is that a lot of those plays were balls kind of thrown up where the receiver made a great play on the ball. That will skew the stats real quickly.

"It's not like they (A&M) were driving the ball a lot. We are more of a driving type of team."

It's not just the yearly influx of talent that concerns opponents of Alabama's defense.

Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are regarded among their peers as two of the best in the business on the defensive side of the ball.

Dan Werner
Chuck Rounsaville

The Tide defense is not only physically capable, they are well-coached and complex as well.

"They adjust so well to formations and personnel groupings. If a guy goes in motion, they change their coverages instantly, for instance. They have certain looks they want to be in for every formation and every personnel grouping," Werner explained. "They give you more looks than most defenses you face, for sure."

How do you combat that combination of talent and coaching?

"The thing we want to do is play fast and make them think more about their check game," Werner said. "If we can do that, and stay ahead of the chains, we will be OK.

"The problem you run into is if you get behind the chains. They have packages for third-and-long that there is just nowhere to go with the ball downfield. Then you have to check it down and hope someone runs for the first down."

Werner said the Tide defense has not blitzed as much this year as in the past, but you still have to be prepared for their numerous blitz packages.

"We have film of the last two years or so and the stuff they have shown in the past, we have to be ready for," he explained. "Also, if they throw a new wrinkle in, which they will do, we have to be able to adjust to it quickly."

Werner's keys to the game are the same he has been preaching all year.

"I'll just repeat what I have said every week," he laughed. "Take care of the ball and stay ahead of the chains. There's no magic in it."

Two offensive players - WR Vincent Sanders and Patrick Junen - will be making their comebacks from injury against Alabama.

"They definitely help us depth-wise," said Werner. "That can be big for us because I think we can stay fresher and be able to go fast for longer periods of time.

"With our offense, there's no question the more capable players we can run out there, the better off we are. Vincent and Patrick are proven players. I anticipate them helping our cause a lot."

The Tide defense?

Some things change, some remain the same.

For the most part, nothing but the names have changed on that side of the ball for the two-time defending national champions.

"Playing against the best and trying to be the best is why we do what we do," Werner closed. "If you don't love ultimate challenges, you are in the wrong business.

"Alabama is the ultimate challenge."

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