published Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Ole Miss Rebels ready to take on Alabama

  • photo
    Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace feels the Rebels are playing so well right now that they can move the ball even against top-ranked Alabama this Saturday.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TIDE, TAKE THREE

Three tidbits regarding top-ranked Alabama entering Saturday's game against No. 21 Ole Miss:

• 1. Alabama has won nine straight meetings against the Rebels, though its victories in 2005, '06 and '07 were later vacated.

• 2. The Crimson Tide have used 11 true freshmen so far, with tight end O.J. Howard, cornerback Eddie Jackson and long snapper Cole Mazza making starts.

• 3. Alabama's 64 wins since the start of the 2008 season are the most in the BCS. The Tide entered this past weekend tied with Boise State.

Ole Miss has racked up points at Vanderbilt and at Texas this football season, so why not do the same at Alabama?

The No. 21 Rebels are brimming with confidence entering this week's showdown in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss junior quarterback Bo Wallace has thrown for 648 yards, rushed for 120 and accounted for seven touchdowns, and he is planning on more of the same at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"I think we can put points on them," Wallace said Monday during his media session in Oxford. "I think we can put points on anybody. We've just got to show up and play."

The Rebels have been hard to stop since the second half of the opener in Nashville, when they erupted for 29 points to snatch a 39-35 victory. After subduing Southeast Missouri State 31-13 with a 31-0 first half, Ole Miss erupted for a 44-23 win over the Longhorns that clinched a 3-0 record heading into last week's open date.

Ole Miss has won five straight games dating back to last season's Egg Bowl and faces an Alabama team with concerns on the offensive line and in the secondary.

The Crimson Tide surrendered a program-record 628 yards two weeks ago at Texas A&M, including 464 passing yards by Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel. Mike Evans was the favorite target for Manziel, hauling in seven receptions for 279 yards and a score.

Alabama allowed 228 passing yards in last Saturday's 31-6 win over Colorado State, when the Tide were without defensive backs Deion Belue, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry.

"We need to play better in the secondary," Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday. "We still gave up four big-play passes in this last game. They weren't 70-yarders, but they were 20- and 25-yarders, and most of them were on some kind of mental error by somebody -- not always in the secondary, but somebody. Most of it is technique and doing your assignment.

"Obviously Deion Belue is a guy who has played the most football around here and is probably our best corner. He's a guy who has experience and has some positive leadership that does affect the other players, so it would be great to get him back."

Belue is expected to play this week, and Saban said the other corner spot would be up for grabs this week in practice. Wallace believes the Crimson Tide better have their act together by Saturday night.

"I think we have better receivers than A&M," Wallace said. "They want to talk about Mike Evans being so good, but we've got Donte [Moncrief], and I think Laquon [Treadwell] is going to be that way. We have better players on the outside, I think, than A&M does."

When asked about the Tide's cornerbacks, Wallace said, "When you've got a guy [Dee Milliner] going in the top 10 [of the 2013 NFL draft], you're going to have a little bit of a dropoff the next year."

Alabama's issues on the offensive front are due to missed assignments and a lack of technique, Saban said. The Crimson Tide managed just 66 rushing yards against the Rams, and their average of 132 a game ranks last in the SEC.

"We're a new team, and I think people need to realize that," Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said. "You're not going to be the best at running every year. Some years you're going to be better throwing the ball than you are running, and vice versa. I think people need to kind of realize that. We're going to play to our strengths.

"If we've got to throw the ball, then we will throw it. If we've got to run it, we've got to run it. As long as we win."

Tide tidbits

Alabama's game Oct. 5 against visiting Georgia State will be televised by SEC TV with a 12:21 p.m. EDT kickoff. ... Saban said Perry's shoulder was to be evaluated Monday before a decision is made on the rest of the season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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