What can you say about a 55-point conference road win?
Alabama spotted Ole Miss seven points on the first play of the game, then rolled off 62 consecutive points before leaving town. It was as dominant a performance as you’ll ever see in a conference game.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Ole Miss defense is horrible. They are going to allow a slew of yards and points to just about everyone they play this season. Still, Alabama’s offense led by Tua Tagovailoa looks unstoppable. Three games into the season, Tua hasn’t thrown an incomplete pass on third down. Even slight misses are rare and surprising. His 237.2 passer rating is higher than any of the recent Heisman winning QBs. He averages a full 13 yards per completion and has thrown a TD for every seven pass attempts. The more he plays, the more it appears that Saban’s Alabama has the best passer in the nation, which has to be terrifying for everyone else.
Tua’s favorite target, Jerry Jeudy, hauled in three passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Tua also threw a perfect bullet to the sideline for a touchdown to TE Irv Smith, who finished with three catches for 42 yards. Seeing a tight end targeted in the red zone was a welcome sight to many fans. Henry Ruggs III managed to get into the end zone once as well. Jalen Hurts entered at QB with the Tide up 35-7 and again acquitted himself well, one interception the lone blemish on his 70% passing effort with two TDs. Mac Jones had mop-up duty.
The running game was outstanding early on, underscoring the impact of an elite passing game. Tua and Damien Harris combined for 109 yards on only ten carries. Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs had more moderate stats, but that was partially due to the fact that the Tide threw the ball into the red zone and ran it in from there. Both players found the end zone.
Up front, the starting offensive line was as excellent as one would imagine considering the stats. This should again be tempered by the fact that nobody is mistaking the Ole Miss front seven with the ‘85 Bears, but Tua was under very little pressure and the running lanes were there. Deonte Brown played some at right guard last week, and filled in for Lester Cotton on the left side in this one.
Defensively. the stats looked great but the most encouraging thing has to be the development of the secondary. Saban has seemingly worked his magic on Trevon Diggs. The kid was targeted on a few occasions and was consistently in great position to play the ball with his long arms. After Saivion Smith was burned for 75 yards on the first play, Patrick Surtain II entered in his spot and looked the part of the top DB in his class. Both starting safeties managed interceptions, and Xavier McKinney took his to the house. Shyheim Carter didn’t fill the stat sheet, but was rarely targeted in the slot. Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses seemed to do a much better job in coverage this week. though Ole Miss rarely tried the middle.
If you want to quibble with something on defense, RB Scottie Phillips was able to find a couple of solid runs and finished with 3.7 yards per carry, just over a third of his season average. The Tide committed extra resources to stop the passing game, so the Rebels had a numbers advantage there. The DL looked strong again though, and is proving to be particularly adept at batting down the short passes. The Tide allowed only 248 yards on the evening, and 75 of those came on the first play. Considering that Ole Miss was averaging nearly 600 coming in, it’s tough to complain.
The kicking game was an adventure again, with a missed field goal and a middling 37 yard average on two punts. It is what it is at this point. Jaylen Waddle didn’t get many chances in the return game but nearly took one to the house, gaining 37 yards. Mac Jones was holding in the second half, though we don’t know if that’s because Tua was suffering from calf cramps on the sideline.
The Tide escaped Oxford injury free.
At some point this team is going to be tested, but it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps next week vs. a game Texas A&M team, that gave Clemson all it could handle, will present a new challenge. For now, however, it simply looks like Alabama is playing a different game than everyone else.