Trash Talk May Have Been Bad Idea
That pre-game chatter apparently backfired, even on the Tide practice field leading up to the contest.
"It fired us up, a lot," said Alabama junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, who played one of his better collegiate games with eight tackles and two pass break-ups. "We set the tempo. Ole Miss had been talking a lot of smack during the week. We came out and practiced hard all week, and we showed them on the field."
Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley (seven tackles, one break-up) agreed. "When somebody calls you out, you're going to put a little extra into practice that game week. Our scout team gave us great looks, and our coaches gave us a great game plan."
One play in particular helped set the mood for the entire evening. With the Rebels driving in Alabama territory on their first possession, coach Hugh Freeze opted to go for a fourth-and-2 in Tide territory. Clinton-Dix read the play, came up, and upended running back Jeff Scott, causing the ball to land behind the down marker.
"Ha Ha came in and flipped the running back, and that pretty much set the tone for the whole game," Mosley said. "When we execute and we're in the right place at the right time, good things happen."
The game statistics bear that out, as Alabama outgained the high-octane Ole Miss offense, 434 yards to 205, and limited the visitors to but 4-of-14 on third down conversions. On fourth down, the Rebs went 1 for 4. Chalk that up to what some said was the Tide's best week of practice all season. Ole Miss' pre-game remarks were duly noted.
"We heard about the things they were saying," said defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan. "It got our attention. We took it to heart. We really had to show them we take pride when we're dominating."
"They were going so fast, we just had to line up and react. C.J. Mosley played a great game. He was giving us all the (defensive) calls. He had a lot of freedom to set our defense."
The Alabama offense was jump-started by T.J. Yeldon's 68-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the second half that gave the Tide a 16-0 lead. "The center (Chad Lindsay) and guard (Anthony Steen) made good blocks. I cut back, hit the hole, and made a spin," said Yeldon. "It picked the whole team up."
Lindsey was in the game because starter Ryan Kelly stretched his MCL and will miss 2-3 weeks, according to Coach Nick Saban. "I feel like Chad did a great job," Yeldon said.
"It was great to have a chance to get out there and compete," said Lindsay, a redshirt junior. "When you get your opportunity and chance, you've got to be ready to go." Lindsey said adding to a 9-0 lead at the half was paramount to start the third quarter. "We came in at halftime as an offensive line, and looked each other in the eyes and said, ‘We've got to do this.' It was a huge lift. It definitely swung the momentum in our favor. It was a great way to start the second half."
One reason for the success the offensive line had on that opening third quarter drive was a common topic around the football complex in recent weeks. "Our communication was good, right off the bat. Communication is everything," Lindsey said.
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