TUSCALOOSA | Like most cornerbacks, Dee Milliner understands the football cliche that he is "alone on an island" in man-to-man coverage.
That doesn't mean he wouldn't welcome visitors.
Milliner is likely to see more traffic than usual Saturday night when the Ole Miss Rebels come to Bryant-Denny Stadium for an 8:15 contest against the No. 1-ranked University of Alabama. The Rebels rely on a quick offensive tempo but aren't afraid to take shots down the field regardless of which quarterback, Bo Wallace or Barry Brunetti, takes the field.
"We know coming in that they are going to throw vertical passes, double moves, all that sort of things," Milliner said after the Crimson Tide's Wednesday practice. "Lately, teams haven't done much of that against us, but hopefully they will take some shots and we will see what happens."
Whatever happens, Milliner knows, it will happen quickly. Ole Miss is one of several teams around the nation that runs a no-huddle offense, but the Rebels' tempo is quicker than most.
"We put (the no-huddle) in thinking it would be successful," Ole Miss offensive coordinator Dan Werner told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger earlier this week. "All these SEC defenses, not many offenses are really successful against them. We're hoping this is the key, the pace and the different things we do to sort of keep people off-balance."
Alabama coach Nick Saban says the Ole Miss system is difficult to replicate in practice, although Milliner says the Crimson Tide secondary has drilled extensively against the no-huddle this week.
"It's a big challenge to get back to the line of scrimmage, then know what defense has been called. I think we will do some different things too.
"I like when we call blitzes, but you have got to know the leverage and be sound when you do."
"The scout team does a great job for us, getting us back to the line of scrimmage and ready to go."
Milliner has been ready for most of the challenges he has faced this season, earning SEC and national Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play in the opening game against Michigan. Injury kept Milliner out of the Crimson Tide win over Western Kentucky, but he is back to full speed and attracting enough attention to be mentioned as a possible high NFL draft choice if he makes himself eligible after this season.
At the moment, Milliner says, he is only concentrating on this season.
"We have high goals, so we know we can't afford a letdown this week," he said. "We need to be ready."
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.
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