TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Last season's Alabama Ole Miss game in Oxford was the definition of a shootout. The game was tied at 21 at halftime, and neither defense made a stop in the second half. However, Alabama did hold Ole Miss to field goals on two of those possessions which led to a 63-48 win for the Crimson Tide.
This resulted in very different feelings after the game for the two sides of the ball. The offense executed about as well as they could, but the defense, not so much.
"We knew we had things to improve on," said Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle on what the mood was like in the locker room after last year's game. "That's what we did. We went to the drawing board, fixed everything we needed to fix and moved on to the next weekend to prepare for the next game. And that's just always the mentality that we have to have."
After giving up 48 points to the Rebels, the Alabama defense averaged allowing 11 points per game for the rest of the 2020 regular season.
Transfer linebacker Henry To'oTo'o was not yet on the Alabama team for last year's matchup, but he said the players who were in that game have shared how it was not the way they want to play.
"It wasn't the kind of performance on defense that they wanted, so this week has been a huge harp on executing what we have to do," To'oTo'o said. "Ole Miss is a great team. They do great things on offense, and it's a huge challenge for us. And we're looking forward to that challenge."
For offensive tackle Evan Neal and the Alabama offense it was a much different mood.
"It was crazy man," Neal said. "There's nothing like a shootout. As an offensive player, those are the really fun games."
The Crimson Tide offense was able to keep up that pace for the rest of the 2020 season, and even with a lot of new players on that side of the ball, has carried some of that momentum into this season.
Alabama has now scored 30+ points in 30 straight games. And while the offense did not have much trouble scoring on Ole Miss last year, this Rebel defense is much improved from last season as Lane Kiffin brings the No. 12 team in the country into Tuscaloosa.
"They're a great team," Neal said. "Their defense has really improved from last year, and they have a really high powered offense so I'm just excited to compete on Saturday."