The Tide running game entered the night last in the league with about 132 yards a game, but Alabama managed 254 yards after a slow start. T.J. Yeldon (121 yards) and Kenyan Drake (99) both had big nights. The problems aren't solved, but the Tide took a step forward.
After struggling on third down against Colorado State, Alabama converted 8 of 17 opportunities against Ole Miss.
Ole Miss averaged about 38 points and 490 yards a game, but the Crimson Tide allowed only 205 yards in the shutout and seemed to get stronger and stronger as the game went along. The Rebels haven't been shut out since Arkansas did it in 1998.
The Tide defense showcased the old and the new. Veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, two of the guys expected to be stars, played awfully well. Meanwhile, youngers such as defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen, cornerback Eddie Jackson and safety Landon Collins were active and effective for much fo the game.
As always this year, this group was spot on. Ace punter Cody Mandell bailed out true freshman long snapper Cole Mazza by picking up a bad snap and getting away a decent punt. While heading to the sideline, Mandell went to Mazza and offered a pat on the back and what appeared to be consoling words.
Place-kicker Cade Foster, finally out of Jeremy Shelley's shadow, made three field goals, including a career-long 53.
Alabama spent the week talking about communication issues, and it appeared most of them were solved Saturday. That goes back to the Tide's coaches, who managed that this week.
Alabama also revamped the cornerback rotation, throwing open the competition for playing time, which is how Jackson wound up on the field so much. Maybe the head coach (Nick Saban) should give the guy who handles the cornerbacks (Nick Saban) a pat on the back.
For the third time this year, Alabama won by 25 points, and again, Tide fans might find plenty to pick apart. Saban said that likely is because of the expectations this program has built.
Even with the high expectations, Alabama is only four games into the season. Saban builts this team to be able to win the big games in December and January. If Alabama wins then and takes home another championship, will anybody care where the run game was ranked in September? When Alabama beat Notre Dame last year, was anybody saying, "It was a great year, but we didn't look all that great in that September win over Western Kentucky."