published Monday, September 30th, 2013

Saban, Freeze impressed with Crimson Tide defense

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace expressed confidence last week that his Rebels could put up points Saturday night against Alabama inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Perhaps next year's goal will be simply to score.

By suffocating a Rebels offense that was averaging 250 rushing yards and 240 passing yards a game, the Crimson Tide rolled to a 25-0 win to remain an overwhelming No. 1 in the polls. Ole Miss was held to 205 total yards, including 46 on the ground, as Alabama defeated the Rebels for a 10th consecutive time.

"We looked at it as a challenge, like we were being hunted," Tide defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan told reporters after the game. "With all the things that Ole Miss was saying, we took it personal, and we wanted to come out and dominate the game and the line of scrimmage."

Alabama coach Nick Saban called the shutout a "big win" in his media session. The Crimson Tide will face their weakest opponent of the season this week when Georgia State arrives, and they likely will be at least three-touchdown favorites the rest of October against Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The next ranked foe on the Crimson Tide's schedule should be LSU on Nov. 3.

"Ole Miss has a really good team and a really good offensive team, so for us to shut them out was a great job by the defense," Saban said. "I was really excited and pleased with the job our team did -- the way they hung in there in the game. You can be critical about kicking three field goals, and you can be critical about a lot of things, but if you're critical, it's only because you have expectations for something that this team still needs to improve.

"I think everybody is committed to trying to do that. That's what we're going to be committed to."

Ole Miss gained 47 yards on its opening possession before losing the ball on downs, and Alabama responded with a lengthy first drive before settling on Cade Foster's 28-yard field goal. Foster would add two more field goals in the second quarter to give the Crimson Tide a 9-0 halftime lead, and the advantage quickly ballooned to 16-0 when T.J. Yeldon broke free for a 68-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter.

The Rebels responded with a 73-yard drive, their longest of the game, but it ended when Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley batted a fourth-down pass by Wallace.

"We really felt good about our preparation," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said in his media session. "We felt like we had a shot to get this thing deep into the game and be in it, and we would have loved to have had that opportunity. Hats off to Coach Saban and Alabama, because they totally took it to us.

"We did not have answers to the stuff they were doing defensively, and that's very frustrating. I take that pretty personal."

The 205 total yards are the fewest the Rebels have amassed under Freeze. The previous low of 218 occurred last year when the Rebels traveled to Tuscaloosa and came away with a 33-14 loss.

"It was a bad night," Ole Miss receiver Donte Moncrief told reporters after leading the Rebels with six catches for 60 yards. "We weren't doing what we usually do. We weren't going fast, and we weren't taking deep shots. That's our big thing, and we weren't able to do it."

Said Pagan: "It was just coming together as a team and playing team football -- Alabama football."

Tide tidbits

Alabama has pitched a first-half shutout five times in its last eight games dating back to last season. Senior quarterback AJ McCarron had a career-high 25 completions against the Rebels. The Crimson Tide have won 24 straight September games since a 2007 loss to Florida State. Alabama was a 57-point favorite over Georgia State as of Sunday night.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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