hunter fordAlabama’s game Saturday against Southern Miss is the most important game of the season.  Well, it’s the most important game so far; because it is the next one.

Former Alabama coach Gene Stallings would say, “If you don’t think games like these are important…try losing one.”

And Stallings knows.  He lost his debut in 1990 to some guy named Favre who spelled his name weird and made Tide fans feel weird about their new coach.

Paul “Bear” Bryant, whose birthday is today, suffered a tie in 1981 and a loss in 1982 to the Golden Eagles.  In 1981, the year Bryant broke the record for all-time coaching victories, Southern Miss tied the Tide with help from a bone-headed time out call by Alabama.

So miss

Southern Miss was losing 13-10, backed up deep in its own territory, with no time outs.  With a great Reggie Collier at quarterback, the Golden Eagles moved the ball in field goal range.  With seconds to play, Southern Miss was scrambling to spike the ball when somebody on the Alabama side made the time out mistake and gave the Eagles a more relaxed field goal try which was successful.

In 1982, Collier was back and led a 38-29 victory over Alabama at Bryant-Denny.

In 2000, Southern Miss put on a defensive clinic at Legion Field, blanking Mike Dubose’s Tide 17-0 without scoring an offensive touchdown.

Southern Miss has fallen on hard times of late.  It has won two games since 2012.  The Golden Eagles were 0-12 in 2012.  They beat UAB in 2013.  They beat Alcorn State last week, after losing to Mississippi State 49-0 in Starkville the first week of the season.

Odds makers are giving Alabama a lot of cushion this year.   The Tide is favored to win by 40 points or more depending on your preferred “bookkeeper.”

Nick Saban has said his team needs to focus on little things, execute better, and “be the beast.”

Saban pointed out that his team faltered several times in the red zone against Florida Atlantic.  He said his team can’t afford to do that routinely and expect to keep winning.

Alabama probably still wants to play vanilla and “workmanlike.”  Who knows if we will see more passes to tight ends or more elaborate defensive schemes?  Saban has said he wants more fundamentally sound football, wrapping up tackles, using proper blocking technique, and having receivers run correct routes.  If he gets his wish, Alabama will likely win comfortably.

The last time Alabama played Southern Miss was in 2005 when Tide receiver Tyrone Prothro made the famous “Most Awesome Catch of the Century.”

Alabama doesn’t always beat Southern Miss.  But the most interesting things in the world sometime happen when these two programs play.  Let’s hope this Saturday will turn out to be a winning, but mostly forgettable experience.

pro catch

4 thoughts on “Most interesting things have happened in Alabama-Southern Miss series”

  1. “Who knows if we will see more passes to tight ends or more elaborate defensive schemes?”

    We do. I’m not sure if we’ll see it already this weekend, but Saban has said publicly he wants to get the ball to OJ Howard specifically, and that’s exciting. It shouldn’t be a secret to Alabama’s opponents, either. It’s only a question of time before Alabama will have to adapt and expand its offensive execution. We haven’t seen Sims attempt too many long passes because, frankly, he hasn’t had to. If an opportunity is there for 9 yards, take the spare over the strike.

    Maybe we won’t see OJ Howard get the ball too much against Southern Miss, but the coach mind in me says pass him the ball at least once, win or lose, just to get that initial kink worked out. Fundamentals are pummelled on football players but they can still forget the basics. Mistakes, however, are less easilly forgotten.

    “Saban has said he wants more fundamentally sound football, wrapping up tackles, using proper blocking technique, and having receivers run correct routes.”

    Exactly. Same thing. Fundamentals.

    Eddie Jackson looked ferocious, fast, hungry, healthy (glory be), and aggressive last Saturday…but had glaring fundamental technique errors in tackling.

    In the West Virginia game, we saw tons of contact by the Alabama defense turn into first downs, including contact behind the line of scrimmage.

    As a result, I deliberately look to see if those specific errors are corrected. That’s what coaches do (or try to do), and it’s only evident with results.

    For example, if Jackson wraps up a receiver this weekend instead of hitting him as hard as he can, thank Kirby Smart and Nick Saban (for the record, Smart trains heavy hits for blocks separately from tackles, but the fundamental mistake is knowing when to use either).

    Another example, if a pass is thrown to OJ Howard, it’s going to be difficult—-it won’t be a long, lofty bomb, but a bullet to the chest. It’s a difficult catch. He might drop one, particularly the first one. That’s pretty much all you get before having your ear chewed off by the Alabama coaching staff, and that you don’t forget. Results are results and they don’t care if they’re driven by fear or by performance.

  2. reggie collier.

    beat Coach Bryant.

    drafted by the birmingham stallions.

    i recall listening to the games on the radio.

    30. years. ago.

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