Alabama backup quarter Jalen Hurts connected with Henry Ruggs III for a 13-yard touchdown. The top-ranked Crimson Tide extended its lead over the home-standing Rebels 49-7. Bama had rolled up 418-yards on the Rebels as both quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, combined to complete 16-21 passes for 248-yards and four touchdowns.
It was only halftime.
As it stood, the Mississippi defense had given up 1,533 total yards in two-and-a-half quarters. The Alabama defense gave up just 1,366 rushing yards the entire 14-game season last year.
Alabama would go on to win 62-7. Nick Saban could have named his score. The Crimson Tide has now outscored Ole Miss 128-10 the last eight quarters.
The Ole Miss defense is broken.
As it stands, the group led by defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff currently ranks 127th out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, giving up an average of 543.7 yards per game.
With only three games under its belt, the Rebels have given up 130 points and 87-first downs. At one point during the preseason, it was thought the defensive line would be the bright spot on the defensive side of the ball. So far this season, the group has combined for only two sacks, with four players accounting for 0.5-sacks each.
“We have to do a better job, myself, to make sure that we have the right game plan,” McGriff said. “Making sure we play with a lot of energy for 60 minutes. I was real happy to see the guys finish the game with a fight.”
The first halves of the season have been problematic, as the Ole Miss defense in the first halves of the last two games has allowed 12 touchdowns on 15 possessions. Those sobering numbers have created massive holes for the offense to dig out of. This past Saturday, the hole was too deep.
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The question remains, how – if – the defense can be repaired? McGriff thinks simplifying the defense could be an answer.
“The bottom line is that we’re all in a production-based business, and we have to be productive,” McGriff said. “If that means simplifying it a little bit more, then that’s what we’ll do.”
The news didn’t get any better as it was released that defensive back Montrell Custis was lost for the season with a knee injury. The injury list grows as the Rebels just recently lost another DB for the year in Jaylon Jones who was injured in the season opening win against Texas Tech.
With the loss, Ole Miss fell to 2-1 overall and to 0-1 inside the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels host Kent State this Saturday at 11:00 AM CT on the SEC Network before traveling to LSU the next Saturday night.
(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)
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