The No. 2-ranked Alabama football team hosts Southern Miss this weekend with a few questions it needs to answer. Here are four.
1. Can the run game get on track?
Last week Alabama put up 76 rushing yards against South Carolina, which broke its 69-game streak of 100-yard games. When was the last time you could say UA’s passing game is ahead of the run game? At some point the run offense has to get cranked up and the Tide has to find some balance. This might be the week to do that.
2. Can Alabama finish without significant injuries?
Defensive lineman LaBryan Ray is out for Saturday’s game with a foot injury and Nick Saban said the severity of the injury isn’t certain without more tests. UA can’t afford to lose much more on an already inexperienced defensive line.
3. How many TDs for Tua?
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa enters Saturday’s game tied with Washington State’s Anthony Gordon for most touchdown passes (12). Tagovailoa had four in the opener with Duke, three against New Mexico State in two-and-a-half quarters and five against South Carolina. He may be the nation’s leader after Saturday vs. Southern Miss.
4. Can Alabama’s defense get off the field?
Nick Saban bemoaned the Crimson Tide’s inability to stop South Carolina (8 of 18) on third down. That helped contribute to the Gamecocks running 86 offensive plays. Overall Alabama is tied for 44th in the nation on third-down defense, stopping opponents 15 times in 45 attempts.