First off..the good..
I feel I must start with Cade Foster's performance. 3 for 3 with an absolute 53 yard bomb. We love you again, Cade!
But what about that DEFENSE tho?!?!
I can't say enough about this group of young men. Zero points allowed, forced two turnovers, three turnovers on downs (two in the redzone) and a safety. That vaunted Ole Miss offense that "would be able to score some points" only gained 205 total yards— 46 rushing, 1.8 yards per rush, 159 passing and a sad face 5.1 yards per pass.
To say the entire defense played with a fire in their belly for four quarters would be a gross understatement. Outside of a few well designed plays by Ole Miss, the defense as a whole played strong at the point of attack, was able to get pressure on Wallace and generally kept everything in front of them. That's called textbook defense against a spread rushing attack like Ole Miss.
The defensive line deserves a hat tip for the 1.8 yards per rush. The longest run all night for Ole Miss was an 11 yard off tackle run by Bo Wallace late in the 3rd quarter. Jeff Scott only ran for 28 yards after gaining 164 against Texas. Well done, boys.
I felt Eddie Jackson played extremely well all night and outside of the one long pass to Moncrief, that wasn't a pass, Jackson stayed in tight coverage and was rarely out of position. I didn't notice (or probably just missed) a lot of exotic coverage schemes by 'Bama, so from my seat he was mainly asked to play man coverage and in my opinion he held up nicely. The targeting call against him was awful and again, that rule needs some serious tweaking.
Honestly, I could pick a highlight play for every 'Bama defender. C.J. Mosley's 4th down tipped pass play. Jackson's interception. A'Shawn Robinson had several plays behind the line of scrimmage. Don't forget Ha Ha's 3rd and short stop on Ole Miss' first drive. We could go on and on.
Luckily for this defense, they will face Ga State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas in its next four games. That should provide for some much needed relief.
The offense, however, is a whole nother story all together. It wasn't until the Yeldon 68 yard run where the team looked to have any energy at all. And let's just say it— The offensive line is well, offensive. Yes, we rushed for 250+ yards but that first half was ugly.
And I want to make this perfectly clear here, this is not "communication issues". There are very real talent problems with this unit that may never be fixed. I don't want to take anything away from Ole Miss, because that is a talented defensive line, but our guys were routinely physically beaten and once again accounted for at least 3-5 of the 7 Alabama penalties. That is not going to cut against the LSU's and UGA's of the world.
Cyrus and Arie, again, looked tentative, especially Arie who is slow on outside zone runs. Shepard struggled on inside pass rushes and even Steen was inconsistent. I thought Lindsay played OK in Kelly's stead. And though he had the key seal block on the Yeldon run, he didn't do anything egregious either. I don't believe Ole Miss recorded a single sack for the game but it sure did feel like they were living in the Alabama backfield.
Speaking of the Alabama backfield, Yeldon had a brief but terrific game (121 yards on 17 carries). When he took that shot on the hip at the end of our first drive I thought he looked gimpy running off the field but it certainly didn't show on the 68 yard run. Honestly, Bama is just a completely different offense when Yeldon isn't in the game. Drake is a fine player but Yeldon's vision is far superior. At least twice Drake missed the hole to the inside by trying to get to the edge. He showed his speed late in the game on the TD run but he needs to work on his patience.
Fowler showed, yet again, that he is a liability in pass blocking.
Vogler played the worst game of his career. Off the top of my head, I believe he was blown up at least twice while pass blocking, had a fumble and missed a pass that was eventually intercepted. That is plain bad. And where the heck was O.J. Howard? I saw him open a few times on more than a few 3rd and shorts but AJ never looked his way....
AJ's night was...efficient but not deadly. 25 for 32 looks great until you see the 180 total yards and 5.6 yards per pass. But honestly, can you blame AJ? Nuss was predictable when using play action pass (typically on first down at the start of a drive) and the offensive line wasn't able to hold the Ole Miss defense back long enough to give him time to hit open receivers (if there were any) down the field. The interception wasn't his fault but, outside of managing the game well, he didn't do anything eye popping.
And where in the blazing hell is Amari Cooper? Three catches for 28 yards isn't exactly awe inspiring. I've been worrying for weeks that he's entering a sophomore slump and that certainly looks to be the case. Hopefully he can get it together in the coming weeks.
As far as receivers go, nothing really spectacular came from this group but Christion Jones once again led the way with 5 catches for 61 yards.
Right now, until the offensive line figures things out, if they ever do, the offense will remain inconsistent. We could recruit every 5 star available at every skill position but if you can't block anyone what good are they? LSU showed their defense isn't quite as scary as once thought but our offense will have to play far better if they want to go toe to toe with the Bayou Bengals.
In the end it's hard to complain about a 25-0 victory but here I am. I guess we should just celebrate the success the team achieved on the field tonight as there will be plenty of time to analyze the missed opportunities in the coming days. We got a win against a ranked SEC West team, 'Bama is 4-0 and now have four games to work out any remaining issues before the show down with LSU in November.
On to Georgia State!