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Alabama OL shows out in win over Mississippi after two rough weeks

Lester Cotton celebrates a play versus Ole Miss for Alabama in 2018
© Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Key did the most sweating in practice last week. 

The third-year offensive line coach for Alabama had to deal with comments on his position group being “too soft” in wins over Louisville and Arkansas State; however, the 40-year-old adjusted everyone’s attitude as he got the performance he wanted against Mississippi. 

Technique and physicality were stressed all week from Key, and for a defense in Ole Miss that national media was leaning toward, no one got pressure to Tua Tagovailoa. Behind his offensive line, the sophomore quarterback completed 73 percent of his throws (11 of 15) for 191 yards with two touchdowns passes.

Key would also witness the unit protect Jalen Hurts, as the junior came off the bench to toss a pair scoring passes to receivers Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy. Rebels’ defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff saw an offensive front that generated 27 first downs, 516 total yards, six red zone scores (seven attempts) and 55 of its 62 points in the Crimson Tide’s 62-7 rout of Ole Miss.

While it did not have a 100-yard rusher, both Damien Harris and Tagovailoa averaged over five yards a carry. Harris’ first carry of the matchup resulted in a 43-yard burst to the end zone in the first quarter. He finished the contest with 62 yards rushing on five attempts, and Tagovailoa had 47 rushing yards on five carries. 

The Harris boys, Damien and Najee, both recorded a touchdown run and the offensive line followed suit in creating a lane for Josh Jacobs to celebrate as well. Despite the junior rusher getting flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty, Alabama’s balance was in peak display.  

It’s rare to see Saban utterly speechless in a presser; nevertheless, all he could talk about was how pleased he was with his entire team and the way they performed on the road. 

“I was concerned about the first game on the road… This is a tough place to play. Their (Ole Miss) explosive offense, the number of points they score, how would we respond on the road… how would we handle the crowd noise with a quarterback who has not been in this situation before… I have to give us a good grade in all those areas. I was pleased, but we have to enjoy this for 24 hours and get ready for a big game next week.”- Saban said on Alabama’s performance 

Texas A&M will bring some monsters on its defensive front to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Kingsley KeKe, Landis Durham and Otario Alaka on next week, and while it took Clemson down to the wire, do the Aggies have enough physicality to compete against Alabama. 

Key will be looking for more this week in practice from the offensive line.

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 @CoachingMSmith.

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