Treadwell vs. Jones is the matchup to watch on Saturday
After a thrilling home victory against Alabama in 2014, Ole Miss travels to Tuscaloosa this week in an attempt to recapture the magic from a season ago. This game also features one of the premier wide receiver/cornerback showdowns: Laquon Treadwell vs. Cyrus Jones.
Treadwell, the highly-touted Ole Miss wide receiver, has proven to be a terrifying matchup for any defender, with great ball skills and top-notch athleticism. He’s logged a +2.4 overall PFF grade through two weeks of play. He is pegged as a future first-round NFL draft pick, and is eager to prove he is fully recovered from the devastating leg injury he suffered last November.
Jones, the often disrespected three-year starter for Alabama, is the leader of the Crimson Tide secondary. A second-team All-SEC performer in 2014, Jones is trying to prove his worth after being left off of the 2015 Thorpe Award watch list. The former wide receiver has plenty of experience and even played through a torn hip labrum in 2015, demonstrating his toughness.
Treadwell wins if…
He knocks off the rust and returns to his dominant form from last year. With new signal-caller Chad Kelly lighting up the scoreboard against inferior opponents in the first two weeks, the Rebels haven’t needed to lean on Treadwell in 2015. He showed some burst last week, but hasn’t taken over a game yet. If Kelly and Treadwell can establish a connection early, Alabama will be on their heels.
Where he can make Jones and Alabama pay is down the field on deep targets and jump balls in the red zone. Look for Kelly to give Treadwell plenty of opportunities to high-point the ball and elevate above the scrappy Jones. Treadwell needs to increase his focus and catch every pass. He let one slip through his fingers last week. Treadwell can be a load to bring down in the open field, and to beat the Alabama secondary, you have to wear them down by forcing them to make tackles in addition to covering.
Jones wins if…
He harasses Treadwell. Jones needs to make every catch for Treadwell miserable. He should jam him at the line of scrimmage, be in his hip pocket on every route, and ensure every time Treadwell gets his hands on the ball, he’ll feel the hands and arms of Jones as well. Physically, Jones is at a disadvantage, but this is where experience and desire is vital. At 5-10, Jones cannot let Treadwell elevate over him unscathed. With good hand placement and savvy body positioning, Jones should be able to overcome the height differential and make any catch a contested one.
Treadwell over Jones
Treadwell hauls in a touchdown and gets near triple-digit receiving yards, but is disappointed after Ole Miss falls to Alabama. Cyrus Jones starts off rough and needs continual safety help to limit Treadwell in the second half.