CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: PHELPS

HED:CrimsonTide could learn from Rebels

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

The sports talk airwaves are heating up this week in Sweet Home Alabama.

Joe Bob in Bessemer thinks its time for a change in offensive coordinators at Alabama. Denny in Dothan wants to know why they're not throwing more to the tight end. Big Al in Anniston says quarterback Freddie Kitchens needs to be benched. Sam in Sylacauga wonders why Mike DuBose was hired as head coach in the first place.

DuBose, his team relegated to "also-ran" status in the SEC's Western Division after back-to-back league losses to Kentucky and Tennessee, finds himself looking to this week's opponent, Ole Miss, for an answer.

"I wish I knew exactly how they were getting it done," the Tide coach told reporters Monday during his weekly press conference.

For the crimson-coated non-believers, that's No. 25-ranked Ole Miss. The Rebels, who are making their first poll appearance since 1993, climbed back into contention for the SEC Western Division title with Saturday's convincing 36-21 upset of No. 8 LSU at Tiger Stadium. The win left them 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the division. DuBose's Tide is 3-3 overall and a shocking 1-3 corpse in the West.

Tuberville's solution simple

Maybe Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville has the answer for DuBose. Maybe he can tell him how an NCAA penalty-ridden program can survive scholarship cuts and compete toe-to-toe with the powers in the nation's toughest football conference.

DuBose's once proud program is obviously feeling the sting of its NCAA penalties. How else can one explain the Tide's sudden fall?

Tuberville's solution for "getting it done" is rather simple consistency.

"The only way a team like our team can compete against LSU on the road is have a philosophy like we have on offense and defense," he said. "We have stuck with our guns since we've been here. Teams who are not consistent with what they do week in and week out can't get over the hump so to speak and be successful.

"Being consistent will win for you, no matter what you do on offense and defense. You have to be consistent because your players are the ones who win games. You take coaching out of it. Coaches can lose games for you more than they can win games. We've tried to eliminate a lot of the things the players have to learn and just do the same things over and over.

"When you have less players you have to out-execute the other team. That's what happened at LSU. We out-executed them."

Prime-time Rebels

The Rebels' program took a giant leap with the televised win over Gator-beating LSU, but actually, Ole Miss has fared well even in defeat on the tube this fall. Auburn struggled in its 19-9 win over the Rebs on JP and Tennessee needed a late TD to hold them off, 31-17, on CBS.

Ole Miss is back on the tube this weekend against Alabama.

"My biggest nightmare is playing Auburn on the road, Tennessee on the road, LSU on the road and being embarrassed," Tuberville said. "That hurts your recruiting more than anything else. We had a chance to win all three of them. We won one.

"But I think in the other two losses people saw that this program has survived through the tough times. We're only going to get better from here. The players we've talked with around the country are enthused about our offense and about our defense.

"They are enthused about the character on this team. Our athletic ability is average for this conference right now. We're playing on heart, character and a lot of effort."

Despite the Tide's problems, Ole Miss will need all three, and then some, to win.

Like Ole Miss quarterback Stewart Patridge said Monday, "They're still Alabama."

Gene Phelps is sports editor for the Daily Journal

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