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Roll ‘Bama Roll visits for a Q&A before Saturday’s epic clash between Ole Miss and Alabama

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Just a couple of really clean and respectful programs enjoying a nice game of catch!

NCAA Football: Alabama at Florida Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Ole Miss and Alabama on Saturday afternoon on CBS, and it’s all any Rebel or Tide fan is thinking about on this Thursday.

But I tried to put aside the major differences and invited Brent from Roll Bama Roll in for a quick chat about the 60 minutes of football we are all achingly close to experiencing.

He is generally a nice guy from what I can tell on the internets, but feel free to roast his ass in the comments.

Wow, what a great opponent and program you guys are, I just want to take a few minutes to say thank you for playing us and always just really following all the rules and regulations of play and really being the class of the sport. Your thoughts on #BamaRespectWeek?

You know, I really appreciate that. So many of our opponents want to just come in and talk trash and play up to the competition and all that. Things just go much more smoothly when you just roll over from the start, you know?

For real, though, Lane Kiffin has put a masterclass effort in sandbagging over the past two weeks. I’m not sure how effective it is, though, when the entire media has pegged this as THE upset since the spring. Is it really an upset if everyone is predicting it? I honestly feel like Alabama is the underdog at this point.

Bryce Young and Matt Corral have a little history, both being SoCal high school QB’s — Corral has said that’s not really a focus of this week, but has Young mentioned it or do you think it’s just one of those played out storylines?

Eh, I don’t think it matters one iota. Both QBs have been doing their thing, and it’s not like either one is going to play defense against the other.

I can feel the Tide nervousness about this game, but I also think a lot of times y’all are just a nervous fanbase for no good reason. Why are y’all sweating a game you’re favored by 15 points?

If you’re new around here, every season, we Alabama fans pick a boogeyman team. And in all the games leading up to that, every time we don’t convert on 3rd down or give up a 3rd down conversion, everyone goes “Sure, we won by 20, but that’s going to get us KILLED against <insert scary team here>” It was Clemson for a while, then Georgia, then LSU, and right now, it’s Ole Miss.

Forgive for a second as this is going to sound very #BamaProblems, but I think part of the issue is how much the national media fixates on it when Alabama loses. I honestly couldn’t name who Auburn or LSU lost to last year, but I guarantee every one of their fans has every single play of every single Alabama loss memorized, and will bring it up any chance they get. Announcers (Ahem... Gary Danielson) bring up every single Alabama loss in the last 10 years during every game they broadcast as keys for the opposing team to win, nevermind that the game has totally changed since then.

Ole Miss and Florida were basically the only two teams to give Alabama a run for its money in 2020, and we’ve now got Florida out of the way. We know 2021 Bama isn’t as good as 2020 Bama, and Ole Miss seems to have improved, so that’s grounds enough to be nervous. Plus there’s just some residual Chad Kelly fumble-helmet-bounce-pass-touchdown PTSD in there.

Would y’all be ok if Pete Golding just left at this point? Has he done all he can do and hit his ceiling at Bama?

I think most Alabama fans would be fine if Golding left. His showing in 2019 was rough, but we all gave him a pass since he had to start 5 true freshmen in the front 7 due to injuries. 2020 started rough, but the defense did come around in the playoffs as they totally stifled Notre Dame and Ohio State. Plus he was breaking in an entirely new secondary.

This year, though? The defense is veteran, talented, and there is zero excuse/context for underperformance. And in 2 games this year, they’ve been awesome (I’m not counting Mercer as an actual game). Problem is, Florida gashed them. Of course, it took a triple-option offense that nobody expected the Gators to pull out to do it, but they totally dominated the Alabama front seven, and officially put Golding back on Alabama fan hit list.

In terms of ceiling, I actually thing Golding has a pretty high ceiling (and that’s why he’s still around). He has an innovative scheme that has transitioned Alabama from that old base 3-4 that Saban loved to more of a 2-4-5 or 3-3-5 stack. The 5th DB is no longer just the 3rd best corner, but is actually another safety with tackling prowess, and the goal is to get the Alabama defense ahead of the curve of the current meta of college offenses.

Problem is, Golding has YET to call a play that actually covers a tight end up the seams, and it’s driving us all bonkers.

What freshmen can we expect to make a splash on Saturday?

Wide receiver JoJo Earle is the best bet. He enrolled in August, so he got a bit of a late start, but the dude is absolutely dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s the 4th man up on the depth chart, but he’s been getting more involved each week, and I fully expect him to become the main guy in the slot sooner rather than later. He also, as of last week, seems to have supplanted senior Slade Bolden as the primary punt returner.

Alabama’s offense has lacked some of the yards after the catch on screens and slants the we enjoyed the past few years, and I think Earle is going to become the go-to guy for that.

How many years can Ole Miss keep Kiffin as head coach before y’all try to hire him away?

Y’all just keep him warm for us until Saban retires in 2030, aight?

I almost attended Bama, but during my campus visit, I had a tough time finding the best places to eat/get drunk ergo Ole Miss. For the Rebel fans making the trip, where do they need to eat in T-town?

Hmmm, the hardest part about this question is that I typically avoided the most popular restaurants on game day when I was there, but I’ll give it a shot. For breakfast, you have to try either City Cafe or the Waysider. There will be a wait, even early, but they’re absolutely worth it. The best burger in town is at the Avenue Pub, and the Southern Ale House has some amazing creative southern entrees as well. Nicks in the Sticks is a great steakhouse. Archibalds is the best BBQ (Dreamland is overrated, don’t @ me).

If you like Greek food, GloryBound has some interesting takes on Gyros and is in a prime location on the strip. There’s also Hooligans, which is a personal favorite of mine that not too many people know about.

In my opinion, the SEC West is going to come down to a three way race between Bama, Ole Miss and Arkansas right now. How do you like your chances given that assessment?

I’m not sold on Arkansas just yet. They’re playing lights out right now, but can they sustain that level of heart? Of course, LSU, Auburn, and A&M don’t exactly look like major contenders, so I guess that does put Arky up there? It just feels weird. Obviously, I like Alabama’s chances. Especially if Auburn isn’t in contention, since we have to play in Jordan-Hare this year, and things always go wrong there. But yeah, it’s more and more looking like this weekend may well be a very early semi-final for the SEC Championship.

Does the winning QB of Saturday’s game end up winning the Heisman trophy?

Nah, it’s way too early for that. September/October Heisman winners are never the same as December Heisman Winners. I’ll go on record and say I don’t think it will be Bryce Young. He’s been deadly efficient, but not splashy enough in the highlight reel for voters. (editor’s note: thank you for endorsing Matt Corral for Heisman)

Predictions?

I’ve gone back and forth on this one. On one hand, I keep thinking Saban has been preparing for this game since 24 hours after we survived in Oxford last year, all our players are expecting everything, and Alabama is about to go full scorched earth. On the other, I see what Florida did to the Alabama front seven with zone-option rushing attack, and Ole Miss is EVEN BETTER at it, and that’s terrifying. I could definitely see the Tide defense falling apart and the offense, while efficient, doesn’t have those Najee Harris/DeVonta Smith-like playmakers that can just take over a game.

I think if Alabama wins, it’s a three-score blowout. But if it’s close, I think Ole Miss takes the cake. Question is, which will it be? As of Wednesday night, I’m feeling more optimistic than I was a few days ago... So I going to take the Alabama win. Did you expect anything less?