The attacks came at Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson from all sides. The sophomore might have been able to account for one or two. He could not account for them all.
Five different Alabama defenders registered a sack in their 66-3 win over Ole Miss on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide had five sacks in its first four games combined, but applied pressure all night to the Rebel leader.
Defensive linemen Da’Shawn Hand and Raekwon Davis each got a sack. Da’Ron Payne and Isaiah Buggs split one. Defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison each brought pressure and came away with a sack as well. That’s to say nothing of the nine quarterback hurries the UA defense recorded on the night.
“We had lots of opportunities where we broke the pocket, but athletically he escaped and scrambled,” coach Nick Saban said. “Made a couple of big plays doing it. We lost contain a few times. I do think we affected him.”
The Rebels did come up with a handful of big-yardage plays. Running back Jordan Wilkins had a 21-yard carry and another of 44 yards. Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge had two receptions, going for 35 and 37 yards. His 35-yarder and another 25-yard reception from D.K. Metcalf in the first quarter helped set Ole Miss up for its lone field goal of the night.
But even those big plays weren’t big enough. Ole Miss went 0-for-13 on third downs, killing any momentum gained from its 253 total yards. Alabama had five tackles for loss on top of the five sacks.
Cornerback Levi Wallace also had two interceptions, returning the first one 35 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
“All in all, they average 400-something (passing) yards in a game and they got 165, so it’s a good job by somebody,” Saban said.
The win was Alabama’s biggest margin of victory in the series against Ole Miss other than a pair of 64-0 wins in 1917 and 1930. It was also Alabama’s largest margin of victory since a 66-3 win over Vanderbilt in 1979.
It didn’t come without a cost. Two Alabama defenders left the game with injuries. Senior defensive end Da’Shawn Hand was carted off the field in the third quarter. Saban said he is believed to have suffered an MCL injury. Sophomore cornerback Trevon Diggs, a backup, injured his foot on a punt return and spent the second half on the sideline on crutches. They’ll be evaluated further on Sunday.
“I thought this was a good team win,” Saban said. “We played pretty good on both sides of the ball. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Ole Miss and their offense, their firepower and their skill guys. Their quarterback. They made some big plays on us, but all in all, I thought the defense did a good job, especially on third down. They didn’t have the opportunity to extend drives.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.