Alabama vs. Ole Miss: Nick Saban Finally Figured out the Spread Offense

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Alabama vs. Ole Miss: Nick Saban Finally Figured out the Spread Offense
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Nick Saban has figured out how to crush the spread offense. He's figured out how to take Crimson Tide's defense and make Ole Miss's offense look like a FCS school's in the Alabama 25-0 victory over the Rebels.

As Sanjay Kirpalani explored before the game Saturday, coach Saban has had trouble trying to defend the spread offense. While the defense has allowed an average of 270 yards to all teams, they had allowed 350 yards per game to spread offenses.

Alabama's Defense Against Notable Spread Offenses Since 2008
Year Opponent Total Yards vs. Alabama Result: Score
2008 Florida 358 L: 31-20
2008 Utah 349 L: 31-17
2009 Auburn 332 W: 26-21
2009 Florida 335 W: 32-13
2010 Florida 281 W: 31-6
2010 Auburn 324 L: 28-27
2011 Auburn 140 W: 42-14
2012 Texas A&M 418 L: 29-24
2013 Texas A&M 628 W: 49-42
2013 Ole Miss 205 W: 25-0

cfbstats.com, B/R Research, Sanjay Kirpalani

That changed today, with Ole Miss only gaining 205 yards total. They also didn't score a single point. But even more than that, the Alabama defense scored two points when it forced a safety midway through the fourth quarter. 

All of this against a team who had been averaging just under 500 yards per game before they played the masterminds of Saban and Bama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. There was definitely some extra motivation for Bama this week with Bo Wallace smarting off to the press.

But they beat the spread offense with intelligent coaching. They kept running the same defensive calls all day regardless of whether it was against the no-huddle or the regularly paced offense. They also made small adjustments at a per-player level to force negative plays by the Rebels.

 

Bama's defense kept Ole Miss guessing

Tighter coverage with help over the top mixed well with secondary and linebacker blitzes to help the Crimson Tide contain the Rebels spread offense. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson played exceptionally well to limit the Ole Miss passing game.

They would throw secondary blitzes in with their basic coverages and continually confuse Bo Wallace with their multiple looks. Nick Saban had his defense disguising coverages effectively and kept his offense on the field to keep the spread offense of the Rebels out of rhythm.

By playing keep away and using multiple different schemes against Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide were able to dominate the Ole Miss offense and shut them down.

 

Batted balls a product of coaching against the spread

Bo Wallace had a ton of balls batted down against the Crimson Tide. A lot of that has to do Nick Saban figuring out what works against the spread offenses in other conferences. By coaching the defensive line to get their hands up every play if they don't get home on the rush, they create negative plays for the opposing offense.

Getting balls knocked down at the line is one of the most frustrating things in the world for a quarterback. Especially when he feels like he finally got a great read of the defense and knows exactly where he wants to put it. 

Instead, he gets the ball batted at the line and in some cases, gets it intercepted off of the deflection. Wallace was unable to find a good groove against the Crimson Tide, and his 54.8 percent completion percentage was good considering how many balls were tipped at the line.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

Bo Wallace should have never poked the bear

Don't poke the bear. That's the sign that you see at any zoo. That's what your mom tells you every time you are about to do something stupid.

Bo Wallace never got that memo. Especially when it comes to the Alabama defense. Wallace was quoted by Michael Casagrande of AL.com:

"I think we have better receivers than A&M," Wallace said. "They want to talk about Mike Evans being so good, but we have Donte (Moncrief) and I think Laquon (Treadwell) is going to be that way. We have better players on the outside than A&M does."

That's poking the bear. That's giving a defensewhich Wallace may have been able to have a shot atall the motivation in the world to shut down the entire offense. And they followed through.

Coming into this game, the Bama defense looked like it was going against a spread and was going to have trouble again. Then Wallace opened his mouth, and that added motivation was all the Crimson Tide needed to completely crush the Rebels souls.

 

All stats used are either from ESPN or CFBStatsAll recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

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