TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley heard you loud and clear, Bo Wallace.
He and the Alabama defense took your message to heart this week and used it as fuel for a shutout of one of the SEC’s best offenses.
“They called us out,” Mosley said. “And we answered the bell.”
The Crimson Tide defense was dominant from start to finish Saturday, holding Ole Miss to just 205 yards of offense and a goose egg on the scoreboard. The Rebels averaged 490 yards and 38 points per game coming in but could hardly find any breathing room.
“Pure domination, especially on defense,” Mosley said. “They had a few plays here and there, but three stops on fourth down, a safety, two turnovers—we played a great game.”
The Alabama defense played at a championship level on Saturday night. In addition to keeping the Rebels off the scoreboard, it forced and recovered a fumble, caught an interception, stopped three fourth-down tries and caused a safety.
That’s bad news for the rest of the SEC, which saw Texas A&M put up video game numbers against the Crimson Tide two weeks ago.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace saw the Texas A&M game too and had words for the Alabama defense this week leading up to the game, according to Michael Casagrande of AL.com:
“Yeah, I think we can put points on them,” Wallace said. “I think we can put points on anybody. We just have to show up and play. It’s the same thing every week, let’s stay on schedule, control the tempo and don’t have any turnovers."
All week, the Alabama players said they weren’t paying attention to the talk. It’s what they’re trained to say, but it’s hard to believe they don’t see it.
After the game, however, it was a different message.
“After hearing all the trash they were talking in the media, it just really played a big role for us to come out and dominate these guys,” defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said.
The criticisms about the Alabama defense were widespread and, in some cases, legitimate.
The Crimson Tide gave up the most yards in the team’s history and 42 points against Texas A&M. But on the other hand, it was Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans—two players you shouldn’t be ashamed of not being able to slow down.
Last week, Alabama only allowed six points to Colorado State but more yards and timely plays than it would have liked to. Mosley wasn’t happy with the team’s performance and addressed the team afterward.
It seems like unrealistic expectations, but expectations are different at Alabama, especially when dealing with defense.
“It’s a part of winning for any big-time program,” cornerback Deion Belue said. “Whenever somebody is trying to get the edge on you or find what’s bad about you and try to attack it. As the No. 1 team, all areas of the game have to be perfect.”
Alabama put all of those defensive doubts to rest Saturday night—at least for now.
Things came together in a number of ways.
The Crimson Tide got their key starters back in the secondary. Belue played lights out in his return, and "Star" cornerback Jarrick Williams filled a key hole. Freshman Eddie Jackson started for the second game in a row on the other side of Belue and held his own.
And the defense also had a little extra motivation.
“We’re the type of team that we respect all of our opponents,” Belue said. “We don’t talk down on them; we give them their props whenever they’re due. Just the fact that [Ole Miss] came at us like that because of a bad game, we had a chip on our shoulder.”
The offense is still a work in progress, to be sure. But Saturday, Alabama’s defense sent a loud message to the rest of the country.