On the sidelines, near the end of Alabama's 45-point bludgeoning of Ole Miss, linebacker Nico Johnson was having a conversation with a couple of his fellow linebackers. They weren't chatting about the Crimson Tide's complete dominance on both sides of the ball -- a domination that saw the Tide outgain the Rebels in total yardage 615 to 141. Instead, their conversation covered the third play of the game -- a busted coverage some two and a half hours earlier that resulted in Ole Miss picking up 59 yards and setting up its only touchdown of the night. "That kind of disappointed us," Johnson said. "We wanted the shutout. We want to be perfect. That messed it up." Where it counts -- in the win-loss column -- the Tide still is perfect and still beating teams into submission. That conversation on the sidelines is the reason why.
"That guy's really a strong back," Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. "Not a burner, but faster than you think. But just so strong, runs right through glass. Best way to describe it is you have to gang-tackle this guy. You have to get four hands on him somehow."
"We have yet to put together a full 60 minutes of football," said senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who caught the first touchdown pass of his five-year career. "It's a scary feeling. Once we get that down ... we'll have a lot of fun this season."
Richardson broke two attempted tackles at the line on that run, then juked Senquez Golson out of his shoes with an ankle-breaking, stop-start move near the goal line to skip into the end zone. "I saw ol' boy had the corner," Richardson said. "They cut me off at the corner, so I had to try to put a move on him, try to do something to get into the end zone."
Again, Alabama dominated the line of scrimmage and moved wherever and however it wanted to against Ole Miss, while the Rebels couldn't figure out which way was north. Ole Miss ran the ball 31 times for just 28 yards. Ole Miss' offense line was gobbled up and with it went any hope of moving the ball on this tenacious Tide defense. The Rebels had offensive issues coming into the game, but nothing got cleared up against Alabama. And nothing was going to get cleared up. Alabama looked like a team from another football planet out there. This was major mismatch in the worst way, but Alabama has made it look that way all season.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was still thinking about that long passing play that helped keep the Tide from a third shutout of the season. Ole Miss stacked two receivers on that side of the line and the zone defense didn't respond properly. "We just got beat," Saban said. "The guy (Dee Milliner) got beat bad by a good player. ... Nothing tricked us. We have to do a better job of that and not give up big plays. Man, they kill you."
The Crimson Tide forced two turnovers, stopped the Rebels' only real second-half threat with a goal-line stand and sacked Mackey five times — half of its season total in its first six games. The performance was about as dominating as possible, yet Saban and his players fixated on that opening drive afterward. "We can't let this happen with other teams on our schedule," Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson said. "But I don't know why we seem to play better when we get behind. We talk about playing downhill and I guess we feel like it's uphill when we get behind early, and then we get it turned around."
Over the last 53 games dating back to the 2007 season, only one player has rushed for 100 yards against Alabama's defense. Tennessee's Tauren Poole had 117 yards against the Tide last season. While Alabama's defense has completely shut down the run in its last seven games, the Crimson Tide have piled up the rushing yards on offense. In that same seven-game span, they're averaging 225.2 yards per game on the ground and 5.7 yards per carry. They've rushed for a total of 1,577 yards in their last seven games and 24 touchdowns.
Alabama's Trent Richardson now has his signature Heisman highlight. The Crimson Tide's bullish back set career marks with 183 yards rushing and four touchdowns and destroyed Mississippi's defense with a 76-yard touchdown run that displayed both his uncommon power and speed in a 52-7 win Saturday night. "I don't think it's the best (game), but it's a good one, and hopefully there's going to be more to come," Richardson said.
Bama's 615 total yards and rushing total were season highs by far. "Our offense, the more we run it the better we run it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We're more like Joe Frazier than we are like [Muhammad] Ali. We have to pound it."
Ole Miss's best running play was the QB scramble. Take away three Randall Mackey runs -- none of them designed runs - and three Rebels backs combined for just 14 yards on nine carries through three quarters. The best demonstration of the Tide's strength came early in the fourth, when, after allowing Ole Miss to work its way inside the UA 5 on two long pass plays, the Tide defenders decided to start caring again and shut the Rebels down on four plays.
13: Different Alabama defenders at least contributed to the 14 tackles for loss.
Tony McCarron raced through the streets here in a hurry to get to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and hand deliver a note to his son. Tony writes one before every game with words meant to inspire AJ McCarron, Alabama's sophomore quarterback. "Be patient. Be aggressive. Be accurate," Tony said he wrote on the note AJ stuffed in a sock. "Win or lose it will never change the fact that I love you." Tony has seen every one of AJ's games since he began playing at age 4. But Tony's streak was in true danger after he underwent emergency appendectomy surgery Friday night.