Alabama vs. Ole Miss State Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 2 Alabama (2-0) vs. No. 15 Ole Miss (2-0)
When: Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8:15 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Local weather on gameday: High of 92 degrees with 52 percent humidity and a 0 percent of precipitation. Winds moving NNW at 6 mph.
TV: ESPN (Play-by-play: Chris Fowler, color analyst: Kirk Herbstreit, sideline reporter: Heather Cox)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart).
Spread: Alabama (-7), according to Danny Sheridan.
Last Meeting: The Rebels scored twice in the final 5:29 in a come-from-behind 23-17 win in Oxford, Mississippi last season.
Series History: Alabama leads the series, 51-9-2. Ole Miss has never beaten the Crimson Tide in consecutive meetings.
Alabama won, but not too impressively against Middle Tennessee State last week.
The Crimson Tide ultimately won decisively in the score line at 37-10, but it didn’t always look one sided during parts of last Saturday’s home opener.
Both Alabama quarterbacks – Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman – seemingly regressed after strong showings against Wisconsin in the season opener.
Coker started for the second straight game, playing the entire first half; Bateman started and played the entire second half, minus the final two minutes when Alec Morris came into the game to hand the ball off three times to run out the clock.
Alabama led 23-3 at halftime, but only 7-0 after the first quarter. The Blue Raiders moved the ball well early, threatening to score on several drives.
Derrick Henry carried the ball 18 times for 96 yards and three scores. Henry has six rushing touchdowns through two games this season, tied for first in the nation.
Middle Tennessee State, an offense Saban described as similar to Ole Miss, compiled 275 total yards.
Ole Miss has given every plenty of reason to believe it’s one of the most balanced teams in college football so far in 2015.
After winning by 73 in their season opener against Tennessee-Martin, the Rebels followed up with an equally impressive performance 73-21 win over Fresno State last week.
Chad Kelly, a junior college transfer, completed 20-of-25 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns in his second start for the Rebels. Through two games, he leads the nation in pass efficiency (233.97).
Fresno State never came within 21 points after Ole Miss went up 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Of the Rebels’ 73 points, 14 points came off two second-half interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Keep an eye on:
Jake Coker, quarterback: While Cooper Bateman has done an admirable job for the most part through Alabama’s two games this season, it’s fairly obvious that the quarterback position is still Coker’s job to lose. Coker will almost assuredly start for the third straight game, but when will he come out, if at all? And regardless, how will he do against the Ole Miss defense? At least on a personal level, Coker can likely lock up the job once and for all, assuming he plays well.
Dominick Jackson, right tackle: When asked about how he’s coming along in pass protection this week, Nick Saban immediately responded with, “Well, that’s something we certainly need to improve” before anything else. Jackson struggled in that area against Middle Tennessee State, resulting in backup Brandon Greene taking some first-team reps at the position Monday. The senior looked to regain the spot during Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices, but Alabama obviously seems to have at least some concern at the position, especially against a strong Ole Miss defense.
Chad Kelly, quarterback: While it’s been only two games and the competition has been light, few quarterbacks have been better than Kelly. But the former Clemson player, who has been mired in controversy, in the past will face his first true – and arguably toughest – test against Alabama. If Kelly performs near the same rate as he did against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State, the Crimson Tide will be in trouble.
Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle: The former No. 1 overall recruit will draw a lot of the Tide’s attention on the offensive line, potentially leaving some spots – like right tackle – vulnerable. Not only that, but Nkemdiche has shown he can be a legitimate weapon on offense, too, showing impressive athleticism on a 31-yard catch and run touchdown in their season opener and a 1-yard rushing score last week. To say the least, Alabama will have to game plan for him in more ways than one.
- Reserve safety Jabriel Washington missed last week’s game against Middle Tennessee State after spraining his knee two days prior. After missing practice this week due to the injury, he is doubtful to play against Ole Miss.
- Starting center Robert Conyers is expected to play after spraining his knee last week.
- Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is doubtful, as he continues to deal with eligibility issues.
- Reserve defensive back C.J. Hampton returns after serving a two-game suspension to start this season.
- Cornerback Tee Shepard will sit out the first half against Alabama after he was ejected for targeting last week.