Bama Defense Up To Challenge

The defense for top-ranked Alabama knew coming in to Saturday night's Ole Miss game that the visitors would run lots of plays and lots of no-huddle. The Rebels did just that, but not as effectively as usual, in a 33-14 loss to the Crimson Tide.

Though they prefer 80 snaps, they got off only 68, still relatively high. They found an Alabama defense that was well-schooled on the hurry-up offense.

"A lot of calls put us in good situations," said sophomore safety Vinnie Sunseri, who finished with six tackles, half a sack, half a tackle for a loss and pass break-up. "Coach (Kirby) Smart (Alabama's defensive coordinator) had us ready for the no huddle."

Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) held the Rebels to 218 total yards of offense, sacked Ole Miss quarterbacks five times, and totaled eight tackles for losses.

"We were wrapping up," Sunseri said. "Eleven hats to the ball, every play. Their offense adds a third element with the quarterback being able to run the ball, but we were prepared for it. We try to play for 60 minutes, every game."

Junior safety Nick Perry gave a lot of credit to some teammates who didn't necessarily play in the game Saturday. "The scout team did a great job of mimicking (Ole Miss') offense," he said. "I think we handled it well. We had to bow our backs. We took it as a challenge.

"We want to create our own identity. We don't want to be compared to last year's national championship team, or the '09 national championship team."

Junior cornerback Dee Milliner had one of his better games in crimson, tallying an interception, four pass break-ups and four tackles. Like Perry, Milliner said the Tide defense welcome the challenge of facing a Gus Malzahn-type hurry-up offense. He was happy to get a chance to get another pick, too.

"We just needed somebody to make a play in game," Milliner said. "They threw ball up in the air a lot. As (defensive backs), we just try to make plays.

"We just come out and try to be the best we can be. We knew we were going to have to overcome some adversity during this game."

That adversity, Bama's first deficit of the season, lasted all of 15 seconds before sophomore Christion Jones brought a kickoff back 99 yards to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 13-7 lead the Tide would not relinquish.

"I think, as a team, we've got some pretty good resiliency," said senior nose tackle Jesse Williams, who had three tackles, a break-up and a quarterback hurry. "I think we came back strong.

"We knew once we shut down the (Ole Miss) running game and made them more one-dimensional, with the strength of our secondary, we knew it would work out well for us."

Perry hinted that perhaps people made too much of the "what will Bama do when it's finally behind" situation. "We have different scenarios in practice every day," he said. "We face that type adversity daily."

Now, comes a bye week, one Tide players say is much-needed.

"We've got to get better at everything," Sunseri said, when asked what the Tide defense would work on in the two weeks leading up to a trip to Columbia, Mo in two weeks. "Coverage, run fits, just everything, because of the big SEC stretch we have coming up."

Kickoff time for the Alabama at Missouri contest is yet to be announced.

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