Ole Miss has been circled on Alabama's schedule for two years straight. The Rebels are the only SEC team to beat the Crimson Tide the past two seasons, topping Alabama 23-17 in 2014 before coming away with a 43-37 win last year.
During last season’s game, Alabama turned the ball over five times and committed several mental errors. Tide players admit to being a little too hyped for that matchup, focusing more on the revenge factor and less on the game itself. This year, senior defensive end Jonathan Allen said the team will take a different approach.
Allen said he plans to step up as a leader and make sure the team doesn’t get too carried away this week. After what he called a poor practice in preparation of WKU last week, the senior is ready to right the ship.
“Just focusing on preparations, focus on doing what we’ve done all week,” Allen said. We know we’re going to have a good week of practice and we’ll be well prepared.”
During his news conference Monday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban once again expressed a desire for higher attention to detail from his players. The head coach hopes his players will focus less on the emotion of the game and more on executing their specific duties.
“I think that we were pretty anxious in the game last year and it sure didn’t help us play very well," Saban said. "Hopefully, we won’t have anxiety, we’ll have high achievement motivation and go over there with a sense of purpose and be able to stay focused on that sense of purpose for 60 minutes in the game."
Alabama scores again on defense
The score now stands at Alabama’s defense two, opposing offense one. That’s in terms of touchdowns, of course.
With his 55-yard interception return for a touchdown, Alabama safety Eddie Jackson scored the Crimson Tide’s second defensive touchdown in as many games. Sophomore defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick had the other with an 18-yard interception return in the Tide’s opener against Southern California.
Jackson has had a nose for the end zone in the past. Last week’s return was his third defensive touchdown for the Tide. Jackson returned a pair of interceptions for scores last year, returning a 50-yarder against Georgia and a 93-yard touchdown against Texas A&M.
The senior's ability to find the end zone has even led to him lobbying for a role on special teams as a returner. So far, his requests have been in vain.
“I don't control that,” Jackson said with a smile. “Coach Saban does.”
Alabama recognizes 11 players of the week
Jackson was one of 11 Alabama players recognized by coaches for player of the week honors on Monday.
The senior safety was joined on the list by Allen, as well as sophomores Ronnie Harrison, Marlon Humphrey and Fitzpatrick on defense. Senior tight end O.J. Howard, sophomore receiver Calvin Ridley and true freshman offensive lineman Jonah Williams were selected on offense. Sophomore linebacker Keith Holcombe, junior punter JK Scott and senior kicker Adam Griffith were selected on special teams.
The Tide’s defense limited WKU’s high-powered offense to 239 yards, including just 23 yards on the ground. Allen finished the day with three tackles and a sack. Jackson and Harrison both had an interception. Fitzpatrick had five tackles a pass breakup and a forced fumble, while Humphrey also had a forced fumble and a pass breakup to go with two tackles.
Howard caught two passes for 29 yards with a long of 20 on the day. Williams helped the Tide rack up 475 yards of offense on the day and earned a grade of 85 percent from the right tackle position while not allowing a sack. After being limited to two catches for 9 yards in Week 1, Ridley led the team with nine receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown Saturday.
Holcombe had a tackle on special teams and was part of a unit that limited WKU to 13 yards on two punt returns. Scott punted five times for a total of 232 yards, averaging 46.6 yards per punt on the afternoon. He pinned three of his kicks inside the 20-yard line. Griffith was 1 of 2 in field goal attempts, converting from 36 yards while missing from 48. He made all five of his extra point attempts.
Kent State start time released
Alabama’s Week 4 game will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, the SEC office announced Monday morning.
Alabama and Kent State will meet for the second time, with the Crimson Tide winning the only other meeting 48-7 in 2011.
Saban is an alumnus of Kent State, graduating from the school in 1973 with his bachelor’s degree in business and then earning his master’s in sports administration in 1975. Saban also played for defensive back for the Golden Flashes.