FOOTBALL

Unpacking some Alabama football performances vs. Ole Miss and what they mean going forward

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football got a much-needed road win against Ole Miss on Saturday.

There were good moments from Crimson Tide players, there were some bad moments, and there were a few in between.

As No. 9 Alabama prepares to face FCS team Austin Peay (7-3, 3-2 ASUN) on Saturday (11 a.m., SEC Network+) at Bryant-Denny Stadium, let's take a look back and dive into a few statistical notes on players from the Ole Miss game and what each means going forward.

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Jase McClellan tough after contact

With Jahmyr Gibbs having to leave the game because he twisted his ankle, McClellan stepped in and became a crucial part of the win. His tough running resulted in 19 carries for 84 yards.

"The run he made on second-and-12, he basically did that on grit and determination," Nick Saban said postgame. "Really ran hard in the game. Played physical."

Of those 84 yards, McClellan gained 66 of them after contact, per Pro Football Focus' charting. He averaged 3.47 yards after contact per rush. His season average is 3.11.

It's that kind of tough running that sets the tone for an offense. It will be needed in the last few games this season for the Crimson Tide to finish strong, considering how inconsistent the passing game can be.

Henry To'oTo'o rebounds

The inside linebacker struggled against LSU. He only had three tackles to go with four misses, per PFF. To'oTo'o missed 44% of his tackle attempts in that game. He also gave up four catches on four targets.

Against Ole Miss, he didn't miss any tackles and tallied eight total. He had five stops and allowed one reception on one target for nine yards.

To'oTo'o is a senior and likely will declare for the NFL Draft after the season, so to improve his draft stock, he will want to stack more performances like the one he had in Oxford.

Ja'Corey Brooks solid but still has room for improvement

Brooks, a sophomore, appears to be the best receiver on this Alabama team.

He's had plenty of good moments. He's caught six touchdowns this year, one of which he snagged against Ole Miss. He also had 40 yards after the catch during an afternoon in which he finished with 61 yards.

But Brooks could be more consistent. This season, he has dropped five passes, per PFF, the most of any Crimson Tide player. But he is also the most targeted receiver.

One of those drops occurred Saturday in Oxford. PFF charts drops when the receiver is at fault rather than the defender making a play on the ball or receiver.

Heading into his junior season, Brooks will need to minimize those as much as possible if he wants to become one of the best receivers in the SEC.

Not a one-off from Byron Young

The defensive end had a career day, tallying 11 tackles and two sacks. He also had two quarterback pressures, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

This was his best performance with the Crimson Tide, but it wasn't the first time he's been a positive contributor for the defense this year. Young has been solid for much of the season.

Young is third on the team in pressures this season with 25, per PFF. Will Anderson Jr. (49) and Dallas Turner (29) are the only two ahead of Young. He has a chance to keep boosting his draft stock if he finishes the season strong, too.

Terrion Arnold targeted in return to starting lineup

Defensive back Eli Ricks had to leave the game with a head injury during the first series, so Arnold took his place. Ole Miss made a clear effort to throw in his direction. The Rebels targeted him 11 times compared to two passes thrown in Kool-Aid McKinstry's area, according to PFF.

Arnold gave up six receptions for 92 yards while facing those 11 targets. He also was flagged once, but Arnold did break up two passes.

"I think Terrion Arnold plays really well when he plays with good technique," Saban said. "I think when he has bad habits in his technique, which I’m not gonna get into specifically, he allows the other guy to take advantage of him on release and doesn’t always put him in a great position to play the ball. But he actually played better as the game went on."

Arnold was a starter for much of the season until Ricks replaced him in the Mississippi State game. Arnold has experience, but if he wants to have a shot to be a starter next season, he has work to do.