Both teams are playing their conference opener this weekend. Ole Miss is coming off an offensively dominant 48-23 home win over Georgia Tech, while Alabama is coming off a close 17-3 road win at South Florida.
Contrasting Quarterback Situations
One of the biggest storylines heading into this game are both team’s quarterback situations.
Ole Miss has been in steady hands with junior quarterback Jaxson Dart retaining his role as starter. He beat out transfer Spencer Sanders and freshman Austin Simmons. Dart has thrown for 852 yards and seven touchdowns through the first three games. He has only thrown one interception in his three starts. Dart has also done damage on the ground rushing for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Alabama has had a rocky start to the season at quarterback. They went with redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe to open the season out of camp, but after the week two game against Texas where he completed 52 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns and two interceptions, they decided to explore their other options at quarterback. Sophomore Tyler Buchner started the game against USF, but disappointed throwing for only 34 yards and completing five of 14 passes. They turned to Ty Simpson, who went five of nine for 73 yards in the second half. This was not enough to keep them from turning back to Milroe, however, who will now be looking for a big bounce-back game against a tough opponent this Saturday.
Going into this game, Alabama has a lot of questions surrounding their team that they’d like to be able to put to rest.
A questionable quarterback situation has been a distraction to start the season, and one home loss to Texas has already put the pressure on the Tide.
A 2-2 start to the season could put Alabama in danger of losing at least three games in a regular-season play for the first time since 2010. A win against Ole Miss will put their season back on track, and to do so Milroe will have to execute as a player and as a leader. Coach Saban eluded to Milroe’s leadership as a big reason why he got the starting job back.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 18, 2023
Alabama’s offensive line also has something to prove against Ole Miss, giving up five sacks against South Florida. Left guard Tyler Booker was the only notable absentee on their offensive line due to back spasms. The depth chart lists him as a starter this week. The play of the offensive line will be key to any success success in this game. Milroe will need time in the pocket for them to have a chance to win.
Ole Miss’ Offensive Attack
Ole Miss has had a fast start to the season offensively, putting up 158 points through three games. Although Ole Miss scored 73 points against Mercer, they still put up 37 points against Tulane who was ranked 24th at the time. They also put up 48 points against Georgia Tech last week.
Dart’s favorite target has been senior wide receiver Jordan Watkins, who has 15 receptions for 290 yards and a touchdown. However, Dart has been spreading the ball around to his other receivers. Dayton Wade has 215 receiving yards through the first three games. Tre Harris also has 188 yards and five touchdowns to start the season.
Outside of Dart, sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins has gotten the bulk of their carries. He has 145 rushing yards on 44 attempts with four touchdowns.
Ole Miss will look to start 4-0, while Alabama is looking to keep hope alive.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.