Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN on Monday that Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s penchant for calling plays and head coach Nick Saban’s willingness to evolve offensively are the main reasons that he thinks this is Saban’s best team with the Crimson Tide. They aren’t going to line up all day under center in the I-formation and hand it off and score only four field goals with Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and an NFL offensive line.
No. 2 Alabama visits Ole Miss on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Kiffin earned his first win as Ole Miss’ head coach last week, with a 42-41 overtime victory at Kentucky. Kiffin was the Vols’ coach in 2009 and spent three seasons at Alabama as Saban’s offensive coordinator from 2014 to ’16. Kiffin said in his news conference Monday that this Alabama team is balanced all over and doesn’t have holes anywhere.
They play at a really high level on offense, really good on special teams, great returner, and playing really good defense, Kiffin said. In his three seasons as Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama, Kiffin was part of three SEC championship teams and one national championship team. Kiffin has credited Saban for helping him grow and mature as a head coach, and he hasn’t shied away from poking at Saban like he does everybody else, especially on Twitter.
No offense to Clemson, Kiffin said. Those are the two premier programs that are operating on the highest level over the last 10 years, and [Alabama] is doing it in the SEC, which is a little bit harder. Saban is 20-0 against his former assistants, which Kiffin said should only underscore that there’s no such thing as an advantage because a coach was part of Saban’s system and knows how he runs his program.