Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and apparently, sometimes you just give them away.
Alabama Gave Ole Miss a Win Tonight
By: Larry Burton
Give Ole Miss the credit in the world. They won the game. They won it playing mistake free ball for much of the night and when it came to turnovers, that was all Alabama.
Fumbles, an interception and an inept Alabama offense was all it took for Ole Miss to win the game.
The Rebels hardly dazzled on offense, but then they didn’t need to. The charity given to the Rebels was more than enough to mount some short drives for scores.
The Alabama offense gave up on the run, partially due to it sputtering as bad as the passing game.
Why did the offense not work all night? There’s an old saying that certainly seemed true tonight. If you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Except for two stumbling runs from Jacob Coker, neither quarterback had anything resembling highlight reel material. Both missed open receivers and both were lucky not to have more interceptions.
This had Alabama fans hoping that Alec Morris would start warming up, but that wasn’t going to happen tonight.
When the offense needed a yard or two on third or even fouth down, they didn’t get the yards they usually get.
And when the defense had to stop the Rebels to try and get the ball back to the offense without loss of points or more valuable time, they buckled.
What’s more, the television commentators didn’t have to mention it, but in the early second half of the game when Alabama needed some enthusiasm, you could hear crickets chirping. Just like the team, the fans sat grimly watching the show, eyes sad, sitting on their hands.
It wasn’t until Alabama scored near the end of the third quarter that the fans came back to life and fortunately for the Alabama fans, so did the team.
The defense came back on the field and dropped the Rebels for three straight losses getting that quick three and out the offense needed so badly. Now if the offense could only be so motivated and so productive.
Back came the Alabama quarterback Coker and it seemed the plan was to finally get Alabama’s star running back, Derrick Henry the ball and it worked. They moved with urgency and when in the red zone, ArDarius Stewart took a short pass and found the end zone. Suddenly it was just a one score game.
What was going on? Alabama had given Ole Miss this game. They had done everything but tie it up with a neat bow and leave. But somehow the Crimson Tide, with just minutes left in the third quarter, seemed to be an Indian giver. It seemed the Crimson Tide had second thoughts about giving this game away. The crowd, defense and offense all were back into the game.
Ole Miss seemed resigned to hand the game back, but then the Ole Miss offense did something they hadn’t really done all night. They scored a touchdown without help from Alabama, without the dumb luck of a dead duck pass. The Alabama defensive backs that had played a solid game up to that point left a Rebel receiver wide open with no one to watch him as he caught a medium pass and went all the way.
Then, just as Bateman had done, Coker gave the Rebels yet another gift of a badly thrown ball thrown right into the chest of the Rebel defender. It was quickly turned into an0ther gift touchdown and for all intensive purposes, that final gift to the Rebels sealed the deal. The fans started filing out of the stadium, the faces that stayed got long again and the emotion the players were showing just a few minutes before seemed gone.
The offense came in, the offense went out, passes were overthrown, passes were dropped. Finally a fourth down and long was converted. A drive was kept alive. Then after a few plays Alabama’s tight end O.J. Howard got them to a first and goal with a catch and run. Alabama would score again and with a failed two point conversion, the Rebels led by 13 points with just over six minutes left on the clock. The difference in the game was the 24 gift points that Alabama had given away.
Hopes were once again raised when an offside kick was recovered on the Alabama 30 and after a few more plays, Alabama’s Mr. Dependable, Richard Mullaney came down with a pass to get Alabama to within 6 points with four and a half minutes left but more importantly, with all three time outs left.
But in the back of everyone’s mind is what this game would look like had Alabama not gift wrapped those 24 points.
Now, could the defense hold? They didn’t on the first set of downs and Ole Miss showed they weren’t afraid to pass and risk stopping the clock or getting a pick. The did what had been the only thing that worked for them all night. But soon they were facing a third and nine and with what could have been Alabama’s last chance and Alabama held.
Now with just one time out and three minutes and a tick to go, the offense had one more chance to make a few plays and take back that gift they had so generously given to the Rebels. But then, as had happened so many times, they gave the Rebels the best gift of the night, a badly thrown interception from Coker yet again.
The Game was over, the loss was earned. Make no mistake here and no excuses made here, but Alabama gave this game to the Rebels. Like we said earlier, if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter
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