1. Road experience
This will be the first true road game of the year for Ole Miss (Sorry, Tulane doesn’t count). Bryant-Denny Stadium will be packed and loud for an 8:15 p.m. start on ESPN.
For Ole Miss, a team playing a large number of freshmen and redshirt freshmen, this will be its first taste of Southeastern Conference road play. Saturday’s game will allow younger players to get road jitters out before heading into conference road games that are winnable later in the season.
2. Another test for the offensive line
The Rebels allowed five first-half sacks to Texas on Sept. 15. The defense generated pressure rushing just the front four, then created more pressure when bringing blitzes from other parts of the defense. This season, Alabama has recorded 11 sacks, and eight players have recorded at least one sack.
On the ground, Ole Miss’ interior offensive linemen will be tasked with attempting to keep Alabama senior defensive tackle Jesse Williams out of the backfield. Quick penetration by Williams and the other defensive linemen would disrupt the zone-read packages that the Rebels like to use so much.
3. Where’s Wallace?
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said Wednesday that sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace will “try to go” Saturday, but it remains to be seen where Wallace will spend most of his time Saturday night. Obviously, Ole Miss wants to perform as well as possible on national television, but it doesn’t make much sense to play Wallace extensively if he isn’t 100 percent healthy or to take shot after shot from Crimson Tide defenders.
No matter what, the Rebels need Wallace to emerge healthy with potentially winnable games on the horizon.
4. Generating a pass rush
Ole Miss has recorded 12 sacks this season, but none of those came against Texas. While the secondary play wasn’t good, the lack of a pass rush also contributed to David Ash’s big night (326 yards passing and four touchdowns). The Rebels will go up against one of the best offensive lines in the country on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see if the defense has learned from the Texas game and figured out how to generate a pass rush against a superior offensive line.
Alabama junior quarterback AJ McCarron has been very efficient so far this season and will be again on Saturday unless Ole Miss can find a way to pressure him.
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