Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin Shocked by Bryce Young NIL Deals, Praises Nick Saban

Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin Shocked by Bryce Young NIL Deals, Praises Nick Saban

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All Things CW: Even with Southern Miss in T-Town, the Lane Train is Looming Large

Why Bryce Young has posted some odd numbers on second down, another look at penalties, and the Crimson Tide’s biggest problem this season may just be its recent success.

No one may have been more upset to see Florida's comeback against Alabama last week than Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

He knows that any chance the Rebels had of sneaking up on the top-ranked Crimson Tide, or maybe catching Nick Saban's team overconfident on Oct. 2 vanished.   

"As we know, they have a great team, great players," Kiffin said during the SEC coaches teleconference this week. "I wish the media would stop upsetting Coach Saban by saying this is a weak team or has weaknesses. 

"I mean, they went on the road into a top-10 team, into the Swamp and won with a freshman quarterback. Got an early lead and hung on at the end and now all of a sudden it's not a good team and they have weaknesses and they can't stop people, so it doesn't really help us a lot being around there knowing how that place works."

Alabama is hosting Southern Miss this week, which is coming off a loss to Troy, so it's hard not to have an eye on what's to follow for the Crimson Tide: No. 13 Ole Miss and at No. 7 Texas A&M. 

SI Sportsbook has Alabama listed as a 45-point favorite.

The players obviously don't have that luxury, especially since the Golden Eagles have a formidable defense and Saban is looking for a much better performance and consistency than what everyone saw in The Swamp. But the fans certainly can. 

With LSU struggling, Arkansas about to be severely tested over the next three games, Texas A&M having lost its quarterback and no one sure how good Auburn is, next Saturday's game against Ole Miss might be Alabama's toughest matchup the rest of the regular season. 

With a defense that appears to be vastly improved, the Rebels are already up to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, and could possibly be in the top 10 by then. 

Last year's meeting turned into a 63-48 shootout. Quarterback Matt Corral, who will be the Heisman Trophy favorite if he can somehow pull off a victory, was 21-for-28 for 365 yards and two touchdowns. 

However, Alabama visited Ole Miss between showdowns with Texas A&M and Georgia. It was that dreaded sandwich game between two ranked national-title contenders, and on the road. Plus, Kiffin was on the other sideline for the first time since he worked for Saban and had first-hand knowledge about many Alabama players and coaches.  

Regardless, the Crimson Tide figures to have the Rebels' full attention for the rematch, while Ole Miss is on a bye this week. It's already zeroed in on Alabama.

"He does a phenomenal job with losses," Kiffin said about his former boss, with whom he only experienced two regular-season defeats during his three years as Alabama's offensive coordinator from 2014-16 (ironically both to Ole Miss). 

Granted, Alabama didn't lose to Florida, but the point still stands: When things don't go right for the Crimson Tide they have a habit of quickly getting straightened out, especially in time for big games. 

There may be none bigger this fall. 

More Kiffin Talk

Kiffin sees another advantage for Alabama this season, having added impact starters through the transfer portal to fill a couple of lineup spots. (Note that he didn't mention that Ole Miss did the same thing): 

"For years now you've had the issue of if you tried to play Alabama they've got five-star players that look like an NFL team, and better than some NFL teams at certain positions," he said. "Now they go to cherry-pick players for any holes they may have like an Ohio State receiver [Jameson Williams] or a Tennessee linebacker [Henry To'oTo'o].

"So now, it's like not only do they get the best draft picks but they get to go into free agency and take players. So it really is going to set up one of the most talented teams ever, which is what we're getting ready to play."

What can we say? He's right. 

A Young Statistical Anomaly

Strange but true, Bryce Young's completion percentage is 76.5 percent on first down (26-for-34, 290 yards), and 75 percent on third downs (18-for-24 for 260 yards). Yet it's only 57.1 percent on second downs (24-for-42, 261 yards).

Meanwhile, five of his 10 touchdown passes have been on second downs.

An obvious speculation as to why would be that Young has had more downfield incompletions on second downs, and there is some truth to that.

The sophomore is just 5-for-17 on any pass that travels at least 15 yards downfield, 29.4 percent.

How many of those attempts were on second down? Six, so that part doesn't quite hold up. However, he's only completed two of them.

Here's the real reason for the dip: He's thrown seven balls away on second down, and had three deep passes on second down dropped.

Subtract the seven thrown away and change the drops to completions and he would be 27-for-35 on second down, for a completion rate of 77 percent.

He's actually been very consistent.

Penalties

Just to update last week's numbers, Alabama's 28 flags are second-to-last in the SEC, ahead of only Ole Miss (35).

The 11 at Florida were obviously costly, but here's another way to look at it: Seven could be said to be crowd-related (although admittedly the two offseason calls against the defense are a bit of a reach).

The other four were two pass interference calls, intentional grounding and holding.

The officials made it clear that they were calling pass interference tightly on both sides, although cornerback Josh Jobe's first flag seemed pretty questionable. The holding was on tight end Cameron Latu, who did grab on, but Alabama didn't get the benefit of a similar situation during Florida's last drive.

Getting fewer major calls could be seen as a step in the right direction, and that the team is making improvements. Don't be surprised if Alabama sees a signifiant drop in its flags soon.

Going for 100

With a win against Southern Miss on Saturday, it'll be Alabama's 100th straight against an unranked opponent. The string goes back to Saban's first season, 2007, and the win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 30.

Not only is that a record, but over the stretch only Ohio State has stayed within single digits in losses to unranked opponents with nine.

The previous record was 72 games, shared by Miami (Fla.) (1984-95) and Florida (1989-2000). Saban's on pace to lap them in 2031. 

Alabama’s Biggest Problem?

Alabama doesn't have Landon Dickerson at center.

It doesn't have Evan Neal at right tackle, having moved him to the left side.

It doesn't have a quarterback with more than three starts, or one who had played before a hostile SEC crowd prior to last week.

The Crimson Tide hasn't been able to hit slant routes, or turn short RPO passes into long touchdowns like it wants.

It's been out-gained on the ground so far.

Alabama is 61st in the nation in total offense.

The defensive line hasn't been able to get enough of a push.

The linebackers haven't clicked as well as expected, and miss injured veteran Christopher Allen.

Alabama gave up 10 explosive plays to Florida, as the Gators nearly erased a 21-3 deficit.

What's wrong with the Crimson Tide? Maybe very little.

It's a young team, especially on offense, that has yet to really find its identity. It just won at one of the toughest venues in sports, never mind college football, and has already defeated two veteran, ranked teams, away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Otherwise, despite some hiccups everything points toward a team getting better as the season progresses, which is something Saban teams are known for.

Two weeks ago, the coach called out the players before the Mercer game, and now he can point to what happened at Florida as a consequence. We're going to find out this week against Southern Miss if the Crimson Tide learned its lesson. The guess here is it has.

If so, about the only thing this team is guilty of so far is not being the 2020 Crimson Tide, and that's an unfair comparison, especially after just three games. 

Tide-bits

• Thought for the day: Could Dickerson be the player Alabama misses the most from last year's team? 

• While Ole Miss and Texas A&M are the toughest back-to-back games Alabama will have this season, next year it's LSU and Ole Miss. Both games will be on the road in November, and then the Crimson Tide has rival Auburn. That's brutal. 

• Under coach Will Hall, Southern Miss has a rule that all starters have to be in the two-deep depth chart on special teams. Hall is also the offensive play-caller and occasionally likes to use a wildcat formation. "We have a tremendous opponent this week, that's arguably in the greatest dynasty of college football," he said.  

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Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW appears every week on BamaCentral.

No one may have been more upset to see Florida's comeback against Alabama last week than Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

He knows that any chance the Rebels had of sneaking up on the top-ranked Crimson Tide, or maybe catching Nick Saban's team overconfident on Oct. 2 vanished.   

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