Alabama came into Saturday’s game against the Golden Eagles as huge favorites and won in dominant fashion.
Southern Miss was this week’s opponent, but what really matters to the Tide is the looming SEC play in a Western division that is more competitive than usual. Alabama easily skated past Southern Miss with a 63-14 victory at home.
Bryce Young put on a clinic once again completing 20 of his 22 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns.
Young did have one interception, but other than that stat, he was nearly flawless. Nick Saban’s quarterback was basically taking warm-up passes against the Golden Eagles all night long.
Next week, the Tide will be back in Bryant-Denny to welcome in a familiar face in Lane Kiffin, the head coach of Ole Miss. While Saban has never lost to an assistant, Kiffin is one of the most dangerous former assistants he has.
Alabama did two big things to prepare them for Ole Miss and beyond while playing an inferior opponent this week.
Running the ball
Roydell Williams came alive for Alabama against Southern Miss with 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Williams averaged 10 yards-per-carry this week to help Alabama rack up 211 rushing yards as a team. The offensive line opened up massive holes for the backs and did an excellent job of blocking up front as a unit.
A strong ground attack will be crucial in Alabama’s matchup with Ole Miss next week. So far they have been able to throw the ball all over the field through the first four weeks, but the Rebel defense will be faster and more deliberate in shutting down the air raid.
The Tide still managed to produce 395 yards through the air. Jahleel Billingsley once again stepped up as the number one target for Alabama with 105 yards in receptions and a touchdown catch as well.
Billingsley will be crucial to ripping up the Rebel’s secondary next week, but first, the Tide will have to pull the linebackers up to go over the top. That is why Williams and company will have to continue to run efficiently, which all starts with the line and continues with how hard the running backs can hit the hole and break tackles.
Saban’s game plan for today was to get the ground game looking right, and they managed to do just that in a dominant manner. This will be huge going into SEC play next week.
The Alabama defense will need to be intense and fundamentally sound next week. Will Anderson and Jamil Burroughs both recorded a sack against Southern Miss. Pressuring quarterback Matt Corral will be crucial to defeating Ole Miss.
Corral has been impressive so far this season, but Alabama’s defense has gotten better each week this season. Saban has been saying he wants to see more intensity throughout a full game, and they came through big this game.
The Tide defense was flying around causing chaos in the passing game and nearly shut down the running game completely.
Southern Miss did not even reach 100 yards rushing in this contest and got zero points on the ground. Ole Miss will look to run the zone-read and then strike with the play-action pass. If Bama is able to shut down the Rebel’s run game like they did this week, then the passing game becomes extremely weak and one-dimensional.
With Ole Miss being unbalanced, the Tide will be able to disrupt the quarterback and cause turnovers. Safety Demcarco Hellams able to grab an interception this week and will need to step up as a playmaker for the Alabama defense moving forward.
If Alabama’s defense can keep up this intensity, Kiffin’s offense will not be able to hurt the Tide, and Alabama will continue their march towards another national title.
One last note on Alabama was how well their special teams played. Specifically, Jameson Williams, who was electric as a return man for Alabama’s kick return team. Williams returned two kickoffs for two touchdowns in the Tide’s dominant win to put a cherry on top.
Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football and college basketball writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: Hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.