Southern Miss vs Alabama: Could This Be A “Trap Game” For The Tide?
By: Tony Thomas
September 19, 2019
Southern Miss travels to Tuscaloosa on Saturday to play Alabama. Kickoff is 11:00 a.m.
The main focus of the Crimson Tide offense is its passing attack, led by Jr. QB Tua Tagolaivoa. He has passed for over 1000 yards and 12 TD’s with zero INT’s after the first 3 games of the season and he is completing 76% of his passes.
Because of depth issues and injuries, the Tide basically has just 1 experienced running back, Najee Harris. Promising freshman RB Trey Palmer suffered a season-ending knee injury. As a result, the Alabama rushing attack is a middle of the pack unit in the FBS team rankings.
The Crimson Tide defense as a whole is not as dominant as it has been in the past. I’m sure that is giving head coach Nick Saban fits. This unit has taken a hit both with injuries, most notably LB Dylan Moses, and with transfers.
Last week against South Carolina, The Tide gave up 459 yards of total offense to the Gamecocks: 324 yards passing and 135 yards rushing.
The Golden Eagles are strong offensively, ranking #12 nationally in passing offense, averaging 347 yards per game. That bodes well for Southern Miss as Alabama ranks #50 in passing defense. Lining up 3 and 4 wide receivers will stretch the Tide defense. Giving QB Jack Abraham protection and time to throw will be crucial.
Abraham has thrown for 990 yards and 5 TD’s and 3 INT’s, but he is completing 71% of his passes. An even more telling stat is that he has completed 26 passes of 15+ yards and 15 passes of 25+ yards.
So, he is accurate with his throws and his is a vertical passing game, throwing the ball upfield to very talented wide receivers Jaylond Adams, Quez Watkins, Jordan Mitchell, and Tim Jones.
This will be the best passing offense that Alabama has faced so far this season.
To beat Alabama, the Golden Eagles, and Offensive Coordinator Buster Faulkner will have to come up with some new wrinkles in the playbook, something that isn’t on game film and that Alabama hasn’t seen all season. That is exactly how Bama lost to Ohio State in the first College Football Playoff semifinal in 2014.
2 things that could be the difference in the ball game: the Golden Eagles get a touchdown via a kick return or punt return by Adams, and the defense puts pressure on Tua and gets a couple of sacks to disrupt the Crimson Tide passing attack and kill scoring drives. The Golden Eagles rank #13 nationally in sacks with 11 through 3 games.
Adams has scored 3 touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns this season, including a 100-yard kickoff return for a score last week at Troy.
Also, if there was ever a game where Southern Miss absolutely needed a breakout game from the running back position, this would be it. Run the ball to set up the pass, keep the Tide defense guessing.
If the Golden Eagles can go into Bryant-Denny Stadium with a swagger and execute their gameplan, and play as a team that has nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain, they will come away with the biggest win in school history.
Thanks for reading.