The Ole Miss Rebels came to Tuscaloosa Saturday night to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. The 21st-ranked Rebels were highly motivated and being hyped –mainly by themselves –as the team with superior offensive firepower. As the night wore on, however, the Tide defense shut down the high-powered Ole Miss offense and physically dominated the Rebels.
The Alabama defense was unrelenting all night and seemed to be a completely different than the almost bored-looking bunch that took the field last week. They were physical on the line of scrimmage, but the defensive backs also played extremely physical all night.
Returning defensive back Deion Belue clamped down on receivers all night, but true freshman Eddie Jackson deserves credit as well. Jackson still made some freshman mistakes and got beat a couple of times, but held his own against the bigger Laquon Treadwell most of the night.
Jackson had two pass breakups, a tackle for a loss, and his first career interception on a Rebels trick play. Treadwell lined up in the backfield and took a Bo Wallace pitch on a sweep, and threw to a receiver running down the sideline. Jackson was not fooled, and snatched the pass out of the air for the first turnover the night.
The Tide defense got pressure on the quarterback, affecting passes, putting him on the ground and forcing him to scramble. Denzell Devall recorded two sacks and forced a fumble that Ed Stinson recovered in the second half.
CJ Mosley and HaHa Clinton-Dix led the way for the defense, with Mosley amassing seven tackles, a shared tackle for a loss and a pass breakup. Mosely also hit Bo Wallace in the end zone for a safety. Clinton-Dix led the team with eight tackles and two pass breakups.
Ole Miss went for it on fourth down four times, converting only once. Ole Miss came into the game averaging 38 points and nearly 500 yards of offense; the Tide defense held them to just 205 yards and no points.
The second half running game was stellar after another rough start. Alabama rushed for just 32 yards in the first half, but pounded on the Ole Miss defense relentlessly in the second half despite losing starting center Ryan Kelly.
T.J. Yeldon ran for 121 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Kenyan Drake had a career-high 99 yards rushing and added a 50-yard score. The offensive line struggled mightily in the first half to keep the Ole Miss defenders out of the Bama backfield, but made the proper adjustments at halftime and dominated the line of scrimmage for the remainder of the game.
AJ McCarron was once again efficient, completing a career-high 25 of his 32 passes for 180 yards. He was unable to connect on the deep ball, but got the Tide into scoring position for three Cade Foster field goals. McCarron did have one interception, a pass tipped by a slipping Brian Vogler into the defender’s hands. McCarron completed passes to eight different receivers.
The special teams were fantastic in what has become a reoccurring theme for this Alabama team. Cody Mandell continues to absolutely blast the football on punts, and even was able to get one downed inside the one-yard line after a great hustle play by Landon Collins. Mandell also saved what could have been a disaster early in the game after freshman snapper Cole Mazza snapped the ball extremely high. Mandell was able to snag it and get the ball away before the Ole Miss defenders got to him. Foster had the best day of his career, connecting on three field goal attempts, one being a career-long 53 yards.
Uncharacteristic penalties continue to plague Alabama. The Tide was penalized seven times for 50 yards, including a snap infraction on the center, two false starts, a holding call, the controversial targeting penalty, and an illegal receiver penalty.
The offensive line struggled mightily in the first half. Whether it was a communication thing or just missing blocks and assignments, it was simply not a good showing. AJ McCarron was harassed relentlessly by the Ole Miss pass rush in the first half, and the Alabama running game was almost nonexistent. The line was able to get it together however, and played all-around great football in the second half.
Bo Wallace’s pregame trash talk was the ugliest thing about the Alabama-Ole Miss game. Several Tide players noted after the game that they had been motivated to play well against this Rebel offense after hearing his comments to the media. The lesson is that players should never give their opponents bulletin board material.
Final Game Stats
AJ McCarron: 25-32, 180 yards, 1 INT
TJ Yeldon: 17 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD
Kenyan Drake: 12 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD
Derrick Henry: 2 carries, 18 yards
Jalston Fowler: 2 carries, 9 yards
Blake Sims: 2 carries, 5 yards
Altee Tenpenny: 1 carry, 4 yards
AJ McCarron: 3 carries, 1 yard
Christion Jones: 5 catches, 61 yards
Kevin Norwood: 5 catches, 40 yards
Kenny Belly: 4 catches, 23 yards
Amari Cooper: 3 catches, 28 yards
TJ Yeldon: 3 catches, 16 yards
DeAndrew White: 3 catches, 6 yards
Brian Vogler: 1 catch, 7 yards
Kenyan Drake: 1 catch, -1 yards
HaHa Clinton-Dix: 8 tackles, 2 pass breakups
CJ Mosley: 7 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, 1 safety
Eddie Jackson: 4 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 INT, 2 pass breakups
Trey DePriest: 4 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Jeoffrey Pagan: 4 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Jarrick Williams: 4 tackles
Landon Collins: 3 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
A’Shawn Robinson: 3 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries
Adrian Hubbard: 3 tackles
Denzel Devall: 2 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2.0 sacks
Dillon Lee: 2 tackles
Vinnie Sunseri: 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Ed Stinson: 2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Deion Belue: 1 tackle, 1 pass breakup
Jonathan Allen: 1 tackle
OJ Howard: 1 tackle
Maurice Smith: 1 tackle, 1 pass breakup
DeAndrew White: 1 tackle
Dee Hart: 1 tackle
Xzavier Dickson: 1 tackle
Brandon Ivory: 1 pass breakup, 1 quarterback hurry
Cody Mandell: 5 punts, 46.2 yards per punt, long: 56 yards, 3 inside the 20, 1 inside the 10
Cade Foster: 3/3 FGs (long: 53 yards), 2/2 XPs
Christion Jones: 3 punt returns, 4 yards