By Parrish Alford
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – When Texas A&M rolled up more than 600 yards of offense and scored 42 points – even in a losing effort – the comparisons were inevitable.
Can Ole Miss do the same thing and upset No. 1 Alabama?
The fact that Aggies receiver Mike Evans totaled 279 receiving yards was not lost on Ole Miss wideout Donte Moncrief.
“Oh yeah, big wide receiver, he’s fast, he’s physical, he makes big plays. That’s something I have to do also,” Moncrief said.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 464 yards, and Alabama is currently 11th in the SEC in pass defense with 250.3 yards allowed.
Virginia Tech, which doesn’t try to pass much, was held to 59 yards. Colorado State, which does, threw for 228.
Crimson Tide cornerback Deion Belue did not play against Colorado State, sitting out the game with a toe injury. He’ll be back tonight.
While the Aggies made it look easy, Moncrief expects a tough time with Alabama’s secondary.
“They’re just younger at the position. They don’t have any more Dee Milliners back there or Robert Lesters so they’re just learning as young players just like we were. We just have to come out and fight them as hard as we can,” Moncrief said.
Texas A&M leads the SEC in pass offense, Ole Miss is eighth. The Rebels are this week’s No. 2 rushing team in the conference, A&M is ninth.
As comparisons go, Alabama coach Nick Saban says he sees similarities between Ole Miss and Texas A&M but also some notable differences.
“Ole Miss runs a lot of spread formation. Ole Miss has a very good run game. A&M was more about zone quarterback runs. Ole Miss runs a lot of sweeps, a lot of perimeter plays and a lot of play-action off their run game. The two offenses, even though their formations are similar, their philosophies are not the same. What both teams do is particularly effective for the players they have,” Saban said.
Moncrief remains the face of an Ole Miss receiving corps that has added weapons, so many in fact, that Moncrief isn’t the group’s statistical leader.
The double teams he’s drawing have freed up freshman Laquon Treadwell for 16 catches. Moncrief and freshman tight end Evan Engram each have 11 catches and two TDs.
The group adds junior Vincent Sanders this week, his 2013 debut delayed by a broken collarbone in August.
“There’s a lot of double-teaming going on, and I knew that would happen,” Moncrief said. “I know when I’m getting doubled other players are making plays. That’s a big thing for me, when I can get other people open and not just be greedy and want the ball all the time.”