"I would love to say that we're going to do it a lot, but you've got to win first down to do that," Freeze said. "They were able to win first down an awful lot of the time. Even though we're similar schematically, at a lot of things, I don't think you treat us the same if you're defending us. That's because of who's taking the snap for them. I don't think that's what we'll see. You treat them differently because of what he can do to extend plays and hurt you with his legs. I don't think you treat us the same.
"I think we have better receivers than A&M," Wallace said. "They want to talk about Mike Evans being so good, but we have Donte (Moncrief) and I think Laquon (Treadwell) is going to be that way. We have better players on the outside than A&M does."
"He's getting better every week," coach Hugh Freeze said. Nkemdiche leads all freshmen nationally in tackles for loss through three weeks, and how he made it to Brown on that play shows the growth the 6-foot-5, 294-pound defensive end is making weekly. He took an inside path on the Texas right tackle, using his speed and strength to burst through the tackle's inside shoulder and upfield.
"We’ve been thin at linebacker all year," Freeze said. "That won’t change. Even if Denzel goes, we’re still thin. He says he’s going. Tomorrow he’s planning on practicing. We’ll evaluate him in practice tomorrow. I will not play him if I don’t feel like he’s ready. It’s a long season. We’re going to need all of the capable bodies to make it through. If he’s ready to go, certainly we’ll play him. It will probably be Friday before we know for sure."
As Alabama coach Nick Saban promised earlier today, the Crimson Tide was close to full strength as it opened its week of practice. The lone exception was safety Nick Perry (shoulder), though the senior safety was still on the field. He wore a black, non-contact jersey. -- Wide receivers Amari Cooper (toe) and Kevin Norwood (unknown) were both fully participating in the drills we saw during today's one viewing period. So, too, were defensive backs Jarrick Williams and Deion Belue. Throw offensive guard Anthony Steen in that group, too.
Saban mentioned just one spot in particular because Belue is poised to return against the Rebels. After missing the second half at Texas A&M and all of Saturday with an injured toe, Belue returned to practice Monday. He spent all of last week's practices working off to the side with trainers.
The 33-14 final left reason for optimism in Oxford. A year later, the Rebels look back on that September night in Bryant-Denny Stadium with an eye on improving in this Saturday's return. "Last year I felt like we really came out there and played them, out-physicaled them a little bit," Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt said. "And I expect for them to remember that game and they're going to come out and give us their best. I think it's really going to be a throw-down."
The University of Alabama ranks 98th nationally and 13th in the Southeastern Conference in third-down conversions through three games, converting 11 of 33 opportunities. Last season the Crimson Tide offense converted almost half (80 of 167). So why has the this team slowed in that regard? "Uh, I mean, I don't know," senior quarterback AJ McCarron said. "I didn't know we were slow. I guess we just gotta get it past the first-down marker more."
"When the play was over with, I kind of could feel my hand was numb," he said. "Took a look at it and there was blood coming out of the glove. I told the trainer I think I may have broke my nail or something. "When he pulls the glove off, it's pretty much severed at the top. Nail and everything is gone and it's all inside of the glove still. It was pretty devastating for myself because it was a very close ballgame ... It was a big game I wanted to be apart of and wanted to do everything I could to help my teammates win. "I was thinking more about them and being more upset about that than I was about my finger. This stuff happens, everybody stepped in and we just have to move forward from here."
234-yard performance against Texas A&M is not to be overlooked, but the Aggies rank 105th nationally in rush defense. It was assumed with all the talent at wide receiver and a fifth-year senior at quarterback that this year's team would favor the pass. The quarterback, AJ McCarron, said people need to realize that this year's team is a new team. "You're not going to be the best at running every year," McCarron said. "Some years you're going to be better throwing the ball than you are running — and vice versa. I think people need to kind of realize that. We're going to play to our strengths. If we gotta throw the ball, we'll throw it. If we've gotta run it, we've gotta run it. As long as we win."