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Alabama Football Impact Players

Offensive impact players for Ole Miss this weekend in its matchup with Alabama

Matt Bush - USA TODAY Sports

An Alabama-Ole Miss meeting should be the cause for bad traffic, roads being blocked off and an 8 p.m. (CT) kickoff that no one besides ESPN thought was appealing. Even with the Crimson Tide holding a 49-11-2 edge in the series, the Rebels have won two of the last three matchups. 

Despite its loss to California, Ole Miss will enter Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend with a very talented offense under first-year coach Matt Luke.

Two years ago, it was Chad Kelly that guided Land Shark nation into Tuscaloosa and handed the Tide its lone blemish of the season.  

Alabama made the game interesting in the second half, but five turnovers – including two interceptions from Jacob Coker – doomed it in the fourth quarter to a 43-37 loss. 

While it continues to rid itself of former coach Hugh Freeze and trudge through NCAA penalties, Ole Miss fans are hopeful that Luke can somehow pull out an upset. Alabama is one of five programs that should the Rebels beat, its front office would be inclined to offer Luke the job. 

Listed below are four offensive stars that must produce for Ole Miss. 

Jordan Sims, OL 

Per sources, there is a good chance Jordan Sims may start over Sean Rawlings at center this week against Alabama.

Sims, a redshirt junior from Homewood, Ala., was a four-star prospect in 2014 and has impressed Luke throughout practice.

The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder has the physicality to hold his own versus Da’Ron Payne, Da’Shawn Hand and Raekwon Davis among others, but will he have the footwork to open up running lanes and protect Shea Patterson is the question? 

Before taking head coach responsibilities, Luke served as overseer of Mississippi’s offensive line for six years. He’s given Sims the tools on how to combat the sound defensive front he’ll face, yet it will come down to the junior directing traffic on the field and following assignments. 

A.J. Brown, WR 

Ole Miss keeps a fresh crop of elite wide receivers, but A.J. Brown may arguably be the most dynamic of this year’s unit.

Brown, a native of Starkville, Miss., was a four-star recruit upon signing in 2016 and Alabama will have its hands full with his size at 6’1″ and 225 pounds. 

After snatching him from in-state rival Mississippi State, the Rebels witnessed Brown record 29 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman.

He’s returned as the school’s leading target through three games, chiming in with 389 yards receiving and four scores on 16 catches. 

Currently, Brown averaged 130 yards a game. 

Shea Patterson, QB 

Former college quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Deshaun Watson all had success versus Alabama because they were tough to prepare for. 

Patterson has the makeup of an unscripted signal-caller that can make instinctive plays either in the pocket or on the run. Head coach Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M got a taste of it last season when the Rebels burned the redshirt on Patterson, following an injury to Chad Kelly.  

Regardless of losing to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, the Louisiana native is putting up marquee numbers thus far.

He ranks in the top-10 nationally in passing yards (1,281, 10th), passing yards/game (427, 2nd), completion percentage (70.5%, 10th), touchdown passes (11, T-5th) and passing efficiency rating (181.9, 7th). 

Jordan Wilkins, RB 

Jordan Wilkins is back after being ruled ineligible in 2016. 

Much of Ole Miss’ RPO’s involve more passes than runs; however, Wilkins is a capable weapon in the backfield. He was exceptional during his sophomore year in 2015, rushing for 379 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries.

Behind a firm offensive line, the senior leads the team in rushing – toting the ball 28 times for 103 yards and a score. Excluding Colorado State from the conversation (40 carries, 144 yards), Alabama has limited teams to 70.3 yards rushing a game. 

Elite play at the quarterback position is needed to defeat the Crimson Tide; nevertheless, a balanced attack is essential in order to keep Jalen Hurts and the offense on the sideline. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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