If teams want to beat Alabama this season, they will likely have to keep pace with the Crimson Tide offense which is averaging 53.8 points per game. Perhaps they would be wise to listen to a coach who has had as much success scoring against Nick Saban’s defenses as any since he’s been in Tuscaloosa.
“We made up our mind that tempo was our friend,” former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said on my radio show. “(We were) able to design some explosive plays against them that we just knew we had to take our shots on and we were successful with those. And then, on the (run pass options) we were able to win in those one-on-ones.”
Freeze was 2-3 against the Tide during his five seasons in Oxford. After losing his first two contests 33-14 and 25-0, the Rebels would win the next two by scores of 23-17 and 43-37. Despite losing the 2016 game, the Rebels nearly matched the Tide score-for-score before falling 48-43. Over those five games, Freeze’s offenses averaged 24.6 points per game. In the final three, they averaged 36.6 points.
“I kind of coached the game in three fields for our quarterback and there was always a field against them where I knew I could get the safety added to the box and you’re going to have a one-on-one and we’ve had guys like Damore’ea Stringfellow and Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core and those guys that were able to win in some one-on-one situations,” Freeze said.
Other than Freeze’s Rebels teams, the last team to score 40 points against a Nick Saban defense was Clemson in a 45-40 loss in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game following the 2015 season.
“I think really one of the keys, we just decided on third down—I didn’t care what the distance was—I just made up my mind that when we got in third down we were going to go tempo where they cannot sub, because when they have the opportunity to match you on third down and get their exotic stuff called, they’re really, really good and I just was not going to do that,” Freeze said. “I had my set of tempo plays that I was OK with calling on third down and it may be just a slant on third-and-eight, but we were going to live and die with that and were not going to let them do what they want to do on third down.”
Freeze resigned prior to the 2017 season.
(You can follow Matt Moscona on Twitter @MattMoscona)
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