What We Learned: Alabama vs. Ole Miss

Alabama defensive lineman Byron Young (47) shoots an arrow of celebration against Ole Mississippi at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, MS on Saturday, Nov 12, 2022.

With LSU defeating Arkansas early Saturday afternoon, we knew going into Alabama’s matchup in Oxford that they were officially mathematically out of contention in the SEC West. Since we pretty much knew that this was going to be the case given that the Tigers would have had to lose two games, the question asked all week was how Alabama would respond to playing a road game without national championship implications for the first time in a very long time. And while it wasn’t all pretty, the Crimson Tide answered the bell. Let’s go over what we learned from the triumph in Oxford:

Bryce Young steps up after rough game in Baton Rouge:

Bryce Young was a magician once again on Saturday afternoon. The offensive line struggled to create consistent clean pockets for him and time after time he made plays with his legs to escape and find receivers and keep the chains moving for Alabama. I don’t think Bill O’Brien called a good game at all, with entirely too many 2nd and long run attempts that were not working on a day the line was struggling. But when they did put the ball in Bryce Young’s hands, he answered the call.

The hot hands gets ridden at RB:

Jahmyr Gibbs did not play in the entire second half, and to my knowledge it was not due to injury. Alabama had much more success running the ball in the second 30 minutes with Jase McClellan leading the charge. McClellan’s powerful running through the gaps brought a serious energy to an offense that at times in the first half looked like it should just let Bryce Young throw every time.

Offensive line struggles tremendously:

The offense really relied on Bryce Young to make plays on Saturday. They were not able to run the ball at all in the first half and Young was running for his life all day. He was able to make enough plays outside the pocket to move the offense along and keep the game alive at times when it could have gotten out of hand. A much more balanced attack in the second half allowed the defense to get some breathers and get the stops they needed.

Defense steps up:

I thought the defense played probably their best half of the season in the second half. Ole Miss scored after a 15 yard penalty on what would have been a 3rd and 19 sack for Dallas Turner, but he pretty viciously grabbed the face mask of Jaxson Dart. They did not allow another point after this touchdown, stepping up on multiple 4th down plays including the one to win the game after Alabama’s offense was unable to close it out.

The MVP of the defense in this one had to be Byron Young. With 2 sacks and 11 tackles including 2 for a loss, he had perhaps the biggest game of his career and made plays in the biggest moments of the game. It was a one where Alabama needed some different guys to step up, and Young did just.

Overall assessment:

After a lot of negative talk all week and in a game where they could have rolled over and died, Alabama showed a ton of fight and pride in order to win this one. Fighting back from two separate 10-point deficits and playing really solid defense in the second half, Alabama found a way to win this one and avoid back-to-back losses since 2013. While this team won’t play for anything meaningful in the postseason, seeing them gut out a tough road win like this had to be an awesome sight for Alabama fans. Let’s see if the team can finish off the season strong before a likely hit of the reset button this offseason.