Not Much Good Comes From Losing

A common promise from sports losers is that “We have to learn from this.” Former Alabama Coach Paul Bryant was given an opportunity to use that platitude after a rare unexpected loss decades ago. Bryant, who would seem to be positively sick after losses, said, “I don’t know of anything good that comes from losing.”

And that includes the notes following a lost game. Alabama was on the wrong side of its Southeastern Conference season-opener Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium as Ole Miss took a 43-36 decision.

It was only the second Mississippi win in history against Alabama in the state, the other coming in 1988 against Bill Curry’s Bama.

It also marked the second consecutive Ole Miss win over the Crimson Tide, the first time in the 63-game history of the series the Rebels have won two in a row. Both were by six points and both were aided substantially by Alabama turnovers. On Saturday night the Tide had five turnovers and no takeaways, and the turnovers led to 24 Mississippi points.

It was the first September loss for Alabama since 2007, snapping a 29-game winning streak in games played in the month.

Nick Saban has a fabulous record as he has begun his ninth season as Alabama’s head coach. He is now 11-3 vs. Ole Miss, including his record at LSU, and 7-2 at Bama.

The loss was Saban’s first in an SEC opener, 12-1 overall and 8-1 at Bama. In his Tide career

Although some mark the Alabama-Ole Miss series record in different ways, since is not a member of the NCAA we disregard the ridiculous forfeits and vacated wins imposed retroactively (and which have not been applied uniformly). On the field, Alabama’s record against the Rebels fell to a still incredible 51-10-2.

The most notable note in the game was that Alabama changed starting quarterback. In the first two games, Jacob Coker got the start. On Saturday night, Cooper Bateman was the starter, but after he threw a critical interception he was replaced by Coker, who finished the game – his own turnovers notwithstanding.

Also making his first appearance for Alabama was long snapper Alex Harrelson, a senior from Vestavia Hills. Cole Mazza, Bama’s regular snapper since the 2013 season, was reported to have been suspended for one game. There were no issues with Harrelson’s snaps.

For the third consecutive game this season, Reggie Ragland led the Alabama defense, this time with nine tackles. It was the seventh time in his career that he has led the Tide in stops. His other four games all came a season ago when the linebacker stepped up for the Crimson Tide and finished second on the team with 95 total tackles while accounting for 10.5 tackles for loss (-27 yards), 1.5 sacks (-12 yards), one interception, three pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and a quarterback hurry. His 2014 season highlights included a 13-tackle performance, with four solos and one for loss, at LSU, and 10 stops against No. 1 Mississippi State.

Ordinarily, a game in which the Tide rushed for 215 yards and had over 500 yards in total offense would mean a Bama victory. But Saturday night Alabama was unable to convert that rushing statistic to a win. Alabama is now 71-4 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The only losses were at Auburn in 2013, against Ole Miss and Ohio State last year, and this year against the Rebels.

Alabama senior wide receiver Richard Mullaney’s nine-yard dive into the end zone marked his first career touchdown reception with the Crimson Tide.

With Adam Griffith’s 20-yard field goal in the first quarter, the Crimson Tide has scored in the first half of the last 106 games played, the longest streak in the nation. The last time UA failed to score in the first half was Sept. 29, 2007, when Alabama and Florida State headed into halftime in a scoreless tie. The Seminoles won that game 21-14. With the loss to Ole Miss, Alabama has a 90-16 record during the streak.

With Adam Griffith’s field goal in the first quarter from 20 yards out, Alabama has now scored in 186 consecutive games – the longest streak in program history.

Both Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake moved up the career rushing list with their performances in the Ole Miss game. Henry, who led the Crimson Tide offense with 127 yards rushing, jumped to 22nd on the UA all-time list at 1,742 yards total for his career. With his 33 yards rushing, Drake rose to 41st on the UA all-time career rushing yards list with 1,237 in his four seasons in Crimson and White.

Henry’s 127-yard performance pushed him past the century mark for the seventh time in his career. Most recently, he rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries against Wisconsin to open the 2015 campaign. Henry had a 141-yard performance against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game last season. He also went for 111 on 20 carries with a score against Florida and 113 on 17 carries with a touchdown against West Virginia in 2014. As a freshman, Henry put together a Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma that saw the first-year back go for 100 yards on eight attempts with a touchdown, while also collecting 111 yards on six carries with a score against Arkansas.

Henry has been impressive in his last five games. He has amassed 606 yards on 87 carries for a 7.0 yards per carry average, while adding 10 rushing touchdowns in his last five outings. He has also collected 105 yards on four receptions.

Captains were linebacker Reggie Ragland, center Ryan Kelly, and tailback Derrick Henry.

Alabama’s 1965 team was recognized prior to the game and honorary captains for the Tide were members of that team, Jimmy Fuller and Les Kelly.

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