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September 25, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama may be a heavy favorite to defeat Ole Miss Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but the Rebels offense certainly isn't the reason why.
Ole Miss is averaging 36.8 points per game with a no-huddle offense that has led the team picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference West Division to a 3-1 record this season.
"We just have to practice at that tempo. We have to train yourself throughout the week to get that type of cardio out on the field," said defensive end Damion Square. "You have to be disciplined as a player to understand what they're bringing to the game and make sure you're physically fit to play out and be available for your team and that not be a factor."
The no-huddle offense thrives on rhythm, and maintains a fast pace that is meant to prevent defensive substitutions. The Crimson Tide substitutes frequently on defense, moving from its regular defense to nickel and dime sets that are more effective in passing situations. Linebacker Nico Johnson, however, said the defense is prepared to face anything in the event that it gets caught with the wrong personnel on the field.
"When something like that happens, we have an emergency call, whether we're in regular, nickel or dime rabbit. When that happens, we just go to that call, and the call coach puts in for that week pretty much can work for any formation," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter. We just have to adjust. That's about it. We practiced it about five times today."
In only four games, the Rebels already are approaching 2,000 total offensive yards for the season. Running back Jeff Scott is averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
"The no-huddle style is a little bit like Auburn used to be with Gus Malzahn," said UA coach Nick Saban. "They're playing hard, they're playing with a lot of spirit. They've got a lot of good skill players."
Saban said Ole Miss will look to run 80 offensive plays, which would require consistently making first downs against one of the nation's top-rated defenses.
"That's their goal," Saban said.
Johnson said Ole Miss' no-huddle offense has also created defensive penalties by snapping the ball with 12 defenders on the field, because defenses have at times been too slow with their substitutions.
"I don't think we've played anybody that runs an offense at a tempo that they run theirs at. (We're) just trying to get lined up and trying to get everything down to a T, because they come out (just about) every play in a different formation," Johnson said.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.