Alabama football lost a challenging game in overtime to Louisiana State University last week.
It has another situation Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium against Mississippi.
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Coach Nick Saban had Lane Kiffin as an assistant for three years. Kiffin changed the Crimson Tide’s culture on offense, upgrading it from pro-style to spread. He propelled Alabama to three Southeastern Conference Championships and a College Football Playoff national title from 2014 to 2016. Kiffin returned to the SEC in 2020 to be the Rebels’ head coach after three seasons (2017-19) at Florida Atlantic University. He has given Saban stiff competition in their first two meetings, including 2020 where Alabama’s offense had to outscore Mississippi to win. Ole Miss is 8-1 and can represent the SEC West in the conference championship game if it wins out and LSU loses to Arkansas. Kiffin brought in several talented players from the NCAA transfer portal, including a quarterback who has been good for this team. Saban highlighted Jaxson Dart during Wednesday’s presser.
Dart, a transfer from the University of Southern California, is a Utah native. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has served well in replacing the departed Matt Corral. He has tossed 14 passing touchdowns to seven interceptions. Dart stands with 1,911 passing yards and 473 rushing yards. He is not the dynamic runner that Corral was, but Dart can make plays with his legs. Alabama’s defense has problems with Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) and Jayden Daniels (LSU), so it has to focus on Dart’s mobility.
“It looks like to me he is a very bright guy because he does a good job of executing the offense,” Saban said about Dart.
“He can make plays with his feet. He’s an athletic, strong guy. He is a good runner, a different kind than what we played a week ago. He is a really good passer and does a good job of faking the ball, which is important for a lot of their shock plays. They run the ball so well that they have good play-action passes. He has done a really good job for them all year long.”
Alabama knows Kiffin’s style, but the players have to be disciplined on defense. Gap integrity, reducing penalties, creating pressure, and making secure tacklers are important. Dart will look to keep the crowd in the game with big plays; however, the Crimson Tide has to salvage its season by shutting down Ole Miss. We will see if the Tide turns the corner in Oxford, Miss.
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