QB Mac Jones leads No. 2 Alabama against Kiffin, Mississippi
Matt Corral of Mississippi seems to have this off-season quarterback fight firmly in his rearview mirror. Alabama's Mac Jones was never really challenged.
Now they are directing two of the nation's most productive and efficient passing games to date en route to the Saturday night meet in Oxford, Mississippi. On Thursday, the kick-off was postponed by 90 minutes in the hope of better weather in the Hurricane Delta.
"Who would have thought these two quarterbacks would rank first and second in terms of quarterback efficiency?" in the first year, Ole said Miss coach Lane Kiffin.
Corral, who emerged from a competition with John Rhys Plumlee, did well in Kiffin's offense.
It ranks third nationwide in terms of pass efficiency and pass yards per game. Jones is the highest-rated passerby, ranking fourth in yards.
Perhaps bad weather could do what opposing defenses couldn't: slow Corral, Jones, and their collection of game receivers.
While Corral battled Plumlee, Jones got no real challenge from announced freshman Bryce Young, especially without COVID-19 without spring training.
Instead, the tide offensive didn't miss a beat without star passer-by Tua Tagovailoa.
Corral has targeted Elijah Moore, the nation's premier recipient, and Kenny Yeboah, a close finish. Jonathan Mingo has finished a career game against Kentucky.
Jones has the nation's second largest recipient, Jaylen Waddle, as well as DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III.
"They're like a track team back there," said Deale Leonard, cornerback of Ole Miss. "They're fast, they're agile. They really can do everything."
PREPARING FOR THE RAIN
The teams have prepared for the prospect of playing with wet footballs in bad weather.
"That's all we can do to prepare for it. We can't let it rain," said Saban. "I think handling the ball is the most important thing, but I also think it's important to yourself get used to handling the ball so that it is not a problem when you are playing a game. "
Setbacks Alabama's Najee Harris and Ole Miss’s Jerrion Ealy both got off to a relatively slow start as their respective passing games have skyrocketed. Both averaged less than 5 yards per carry, despite Harris having made five short touchdowns.
If the weather is rainy and windy it can leave both teams more reliant on the run.
Kiffin is the youngest ex-Saban assistant to face him as head coach. He scoffs at any notion that he could take advantage of that familiarity, and the numbers back him up strongly. Saban has won all 20 times in this situation.
"You're not a very good player if you say so because 20-0 is a pretty strong record," said Kiffin.
He is the second of four ex-Saban subordinates to face their former boss: Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M, Kiffin, Kirby Smart of Georgia, and Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee.
The game will feature multiple players from Canada: Rebels linebackers Tavius Robinson and Leonard and Alabamas Metchie. Leonard and Metchie could sometimes compete against each other.
"I think it will be really cool when two guys from Canada do it on the big stage," said Leonard. "Yeah, it'll be really cool to see him out there."
Ole Miss has caused a few problems against the tide, including wins in 2014 and 2015. In the four sessions since then, the tide has averaged 58.8 points, with only one being competitive.
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