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FILM REVIEW: Ole Miss’ defense will be the deciding factor against South Alabama

Because the only thing you know about South Alabama is that Mississippi State can’t make field goals against them.

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-South Alabama vs Air Force Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

After months and months of talk about a federal supermax prison being built to contain Oxford, [REDACTED], and massage parlors of the erotic variety, we are finally one day away from being able to holler about actual football. Ole Miss welcomes South Alabama to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night for a contest that many believe will be a competitive affair.

If it is to be such a contest, a significant contributor will be the Ole Miss defense, which, as we all know, is trying to rise out of the ashes of 2016. South Alabama’s best chance for victory is if the Ole Miss defense picks up where it left off at the end of last season, and the Rebels’ offense provides turnovers to the Jaguars.

South Alabama’s offense ended last year ranked 95th in S&P+, but Ole Miss’ defense closed out 2016 ranked butt to the ninth power. A second year of trash defense is South Alabama’s lifeline on Saturday.

As we saw last year in Starkville, if you throw a trash defense at the Jaguars, they can find a way to score enough points. And if your coach rolls out there in shorts, you have no chance.

While South Alabama’s offense isn’t overwhelming, we need to take a look at some of the things they do that could give Ole Miss problems. Most notably, the back seven, which, shall we say, CREATES CONCERNS.

Let’s start with their trip to the Golden Triangle last year. On a play that sparked their comeback, they went to the smash concept, which involves the inside receiver running a corner route and the outside receiver running a hitch.

How did the Bulldogs handle it?

Three defenders couldn’t stop it. While you LOL at State’s secondary, do you feel good about Ole Miss doing something different?

About a month later, in their win over San Diego State, the Jaguars went back to the well in nearly the same spot on the field. The only difference is San Diego State tried to defend it with two players.

Quick shout-out to my guy here for nearly batting down the pass.

Turns out the two-defender approach didn’t work either.

While almost every team runs a smash concept, there are far fewer teams who specialize in torturing linebackers and safeties with play-action passes to tight ends. Right now, your repressed trauma should bring you flashes of the 2015 Arkansas game.

Does this look familiar?

I mean, there’s so much space, I wonder if we can fit head shots of Thomas Mars’ legal secretaries and NCAA freedom fighters in there.

We can!

The next screenshot has nothing to do with anything, but whenever I can get an interior shot of the Kibbie Dome, we’re getting a shot of the Kibbie Dome.

Here we see another example of South Alabama wrecking linebackers.

The quarterback reads the outside linebacker, who cares not for the tight end sprinting by him.

Amazingly, the South Alabama tight end scored on that play. YOU SUCK, RHOMBUS.

Finally, South Alabama shows it can get more than one tight end wide open.

Again, the play-action pass gives the non-defensive line all kinds of problems (IS THAT FAMILIAR?).

You could say things are not great at this point for the defense.

That was just a small sample of what South Alabama can do, but those plays put a great deal of stress on the weakest part of Ole Miss’ defense. You would like to think the back end of the 2017 defense will be better than the last version we saw, but until they prove they are not, we should probably be on MAXIMUM STRESS WATCH.