One of the key matchups for Nick Saban against Ole Miss will be his defense's ability to contain Ole Miss star freshman WR Laquon Treadwell.
One of the key matchups in Alabama’s game against Ole Miss this weekend will be the Tide’s ability to contain Rebels star freshman wideout Laquon Treadwell.
The 6’3”, 215-pound Treadwell has been a huge part of Ole Miss’s 3-0 start, and his presence gives the Rebels offense a worthy complement to fellow receiver Donte Moncrief and tight end Evan Engram.
Nick Saban’s secondary struggled mightily against Texas A&M—specifically with star Aggies receiver Mike Evans, who torched Saban’s defense with 279 yards receiving in a 49-42 loss.
The opportunity to slow down Treadwell will give Alabama a chance to prove it has learned its lesson from the Texas A&M game. The question becomes how will the Tide accomplish that mission this weekend?
The Rebels pose a number of challenges to a secondary that is still in transition. As Andrew Gribble of AL.com notes, an injury to top corner Deion Belue combined with the subpar effort against the Aggies sent Saban back to the drawing board before last weekend’s win over Colorado State.
Considering that Ole Miss has an impressive collection of skill talent, that makes it hard for Saban and Smart to key on one player—even one as freakishly talented as Treadwell.
Whether it’s getting one of their bigger corners (John Fulton, Cyrus Jones or Jarrick Williams) matched up with Treadwell, or alternating between zone and man coverage looks, expect Saban to have a scheme that accounts for Treadwell on every snap.
Treadwell has had at least five receptions in two of the Rebels' first three games, and quarterback Bo Wallace is certain to look in his direction early and often against the Tide.
Given how physical Treadwell is, perhaps the most important thing for Alabama to do is make sure it wraps him up when he gets the ball in his hands.
Limiting yards after contact is an important measure to guard against Treadwell’s ability to bust big plays in a manner similar to what Evans was able to do against the Tide.
Saban and Smart have traditionally relied on their corners to play bump and run against outside receivers.
Against a physical presence such as Treadwell, making sure he doesn’t get a clean run off the line of scrimmage is paramount to limiting his effectiveness.
Considering that Treadwell has the frame and toughness necessary to make plays in the middle of the field, the idea of being physical with him also applies to the Tide’s linebackers in zone looks.
The Rebels' uptempo offense poses a significant threat to the Tide’s defense. However, Smart’s troops can take a big step forward in limiting the Rebels attack by slowing down their star freshman wideout.