Defensive, Offensive Tide

OXFORD, Miss. -- In Alabama's 52-7 win over Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday night, the Crimson Tide showed early and often why its offense is as special as its vaunted defense.

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The Tide converted two third downs in its first drive for points with ease. One was a third-and-2 from its own 29, an A.J. McCarron completion to Michael Williams for 34 yards to the Ole Miss 37.

Then on a third-and-10 from the Rebel 27, a McCarron pass to Darius Hanks for 15 yards put the Tide at the 12. The Crimson Tide scored two plays later on an eight-yard run by Trent Richardson to tie the game 7-7. Little did anyone know it was the start of 52 straight points for the visitors.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said it all starts up front.

"The offensive line did an excellent job," he said. "We had a really good plan against what they do."

For the game Alabama rushed for 389 yards on 42 carries, averaging 9.3 yards a rush.

In the passing department, the Tide amassed 226 yards for a total of 615 yards of offense.

No 'O':

Ole Miss had 72 yards on its first drive which went for points. The remainder of the first half, Ole Miss had zero yardage offensively. Randall Mackey was 4-for-12 for 67 of those first-half yards. But 59 of those yards came on one play, the completion to Nick Brassell which set up the Rebels' only touchdown of the game.

On the ground, Ole Miss only managed five yards in the first half on 11 attempts.

For the game, the Rebels managed just 28 yards rushing on 31 attempts. Through the air it wasn't much better as Randall Mackey was 10-of-21 with an interception, totaling 113 yards.

Trent Richardson
Associated Press

"My freshman year at Vanderbilt was 1971," said Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee. "This is the best Alabama defense I've ever seen. I believe this with all my heart. All eleven of those guys are going to be in somebody's (NFL) camp. They may not all make the 53 (final roster), but they're going to make the 80 (man roster). They were just better than us, and we couldn't match up."

Heisman Hopeful:

Trent Richardson, Alabama's Heisman contending back, gained 183 yards on 17 carries and scored four touchdowns. He impressed the Rebels.

"Richardson is a very powerful back," said freshman linebacker Sedarius Bryant. "I think he's one of the best backs we've played against, one of the best backs we will play against. He runs the ball hard and he's got a good line in front of him. Tough to tackle him. Strong legs. Strong upper body. He's just a good all-around back."

"He's a whole different back than last year," said sophomore linebacker Mike Marry. "He's a determined runner. He runs hard every play. He runs downhill every play. He's also shifty so he can always make you miss. You have to gang tackle. If you arm tackle him, you won't be successful. He tries to make a big play every play. I've got a lot of respect for him. We just have to be better tackling."

Say What?

The Rebels had an opportunity to cut into a 17-7 Crimson Tide lead just before halftime. Derrick Herman returned a kickoff after an Alabama field goal from his own 18 to the Tide 38.

But Ole Miss' questionable play call on first down with a rush by Enrique Davis for just two yards forced the Rebels to spend their final timeout with under a minute to play before intermission.

Mackey was thrown for a 5-yard loss, followed by an incompletion by Mackey for Korvic Neat.

It looked like the Rebels might attempt a field goal of some 58 yards but called on Tyler Campbell to punt. Good decision as the football was downed at the Alabama 3-yard line. The Tide ran out the clock.

Tobias Singleton, who averaged over 25 yards a return on five kickoffs in the contest, said he knows the offense tries hard to score after getting the ball in excellent field position. But it can be tough when they struggle.

"Kinda, ‘cause I know what they can do," he said. "But we work as a team and we play as a team."

Singleton said he felt like he should have broken one or more for a touchdown.

Nick Brassell
Associated Press

"If I could have kept my speed, you know I slowed down a little bit, I probably could have broken like three," he said.

Depleting Defense:

Senior cornerback Marcus Temple, who had made a terrific play in the first half to knock down what appeared to be a lengthy gain on a pass for Kenny Bell, was likely lost for the remainder of the season with a fractured ankle.

Senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey suffered a broken bone in his right arm in the fourth quarter and, like Temple, is likely lost for the season.

Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said those are key losses for his defense.

"It's a critical blow at this time, because those guys were not only seniors, they were leaders for us, on and off the field," Nix said. "Those are things you'll miss the most. It provides opportunities for others to step up."

Brassell will have to step in and play more on defense, most likely. He did that in the game against Alabama.

But Houston Nutt isn't sure at this point how they will best utilize Brassell while also making sure he is effective.

"I'll tell you, he's so valuable on offense for us, too," he said. "When he had to play that many plays on defense, it takes away from us a little. He didn't have the same get-up and go for us. So we've got to really investigate that and study to see what's best for our team."

Zoned Out:

Ole Miss was 1-for-2 in red zone opportunities in the contest. The first drive of the game was, of course, a touchdown run by Jeff Scott.

The Rebels didn't get back into the red zone until the fourth quarter. On that drive, they were stopped on fourth and goal at the 2-yard line when Enrique Davis could net penetrate the Tide defense.

Other than those two drives, the Rebels never got inside the Alabama 20.

Lee said had praise for Ole Miss quarterback Mackey, even though the Rebel offense was unsuccessful.

"He didn't play great all the time, but I thought he competed as hard as he could the entire game," Lee said.

Moving on:

The Rebels say they have to put this one behind them and get ready for another top-notch team, Arkansas.

"We had a talk. We're still as one. Alabama is over," Singleton said. "They've got a pretty good team. We're moving on to Arkansas now."

"We can't wait to get in the film room so we can see our mistakes and get ready for Arkansas," Marry said.

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