OXFORD, Miss.

You stand on a beach. A tsunami comes. You gather your thoughts as you are washed into a palm tree. You decide that was a lot of water.

You go back to the same beach. Here comes another tsunami. Same result, except this time, there is a seagull in the palm tree with you. So you turn to the gull and say “Dude, that was a lot of water.”

You go back to the beach for a third time. Surprisingly enough, a third tsunami rolls in. You once again find yourself soaked and salty, staring at that same seagull.

At that point, what is left to say? How much wetter can you be the third time around?

Three weeks into the college football season, that is where things are with the Alabama offense. After a third-straight 50-plus point performance, and another inundation of an opponent before halftime, how much more description can there be?

That doesn’t mean you can break down every run, or every throw, or praise the players, seemingly more every week, that supply the fuel that makes that offense run. There’s Tua Tagovailoa, who is still waiting to play more than one half of football against someone. There are abundant receivers and backs. The line is improving. But so far, the story has been the same: stand in front of this offense at your peril.

There were times in the first half when Ole Miss looked bewildered, not from tricky Alabama plays or strategy but from the sheer workload involved in taking away all the options, and still giving up touchdowns like the perfect 12-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr., even when the defensive back did not leave an opening that an average SEC quarterback could exploit.

The fact is, somewhere under all that crashing, grinding, scoreboard-igniting wave of offense, the real story on Saturday was the Alabama defense. Lost in the flood of points that Alabama scored was the fact Ole Miss had shown itself to be a potent offensive team, a team that has a win over a Power 5 opponent, Texas Tech, on a neutral field. Sneer away about “Big 12 defenses,” but that game was a fair measure of what Ole Miss can do.

Against Alabama, they made one big play, the first one. The Rebels made no others, at least not any that amounted to anything. After the first 11 seconds, Ole Miss never reached the red zone again, not with three vaunted receivers, two of whom were essentially invisible.

The Rebels turned the ball over three times. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, after that one big throw, looked confused and overmatched. He completed just six more passes, for 58 total yards. And the Alabama defense, after all, was supposed to be the “worrisome” side of the ball.

No one should be proclaimed a juggernaut after three games. Texas A&M will be a challenge next week. But the defense is at least something to talk about, a unit whose eventual identity seems like it will be different than 2017. Quinnen Williams is not Daron Payne, but his quickness presents a different challenge. Deionte Thompson is not Minkah Fitzpatrick. At least I don’t think he is. Let me get back to you on that one.

The offense speaks for itself so far. The defense deserves some chatter as well.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.

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