Rebels’ quarterback Bo Wallace dropped back and threw a quick pass to true freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell on fourth-and-two from Alabama’s 29-yard line.
Treadwell appeared to have nothing but space in front of him, but Crimson Tide safety HaHa Clinton-Dix flexed his closing speed.
Clinton-Dix squared up and hit Treadwell in the legs, upending him just short of the first down.
The rest was a 25-0 shutout for No. 1 Alabama over No. 21 Ole Miss in front of a capacity crowd of 101,821 fans hitting deafening noise levels.
“We were up first and we wanted to come out and set the tone,” Clinton-Dix said. “They got a big play on us (the first play from scrimmage). We stayed humble and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
Alabama’s defense appeared to be in the right place at the right time all night. The Tide held the Rebels to 205 total yards of offense, including just 46 rushing yards.
“Our players really did a good job of being relentless out there with their effort, toughness and the way they competed in the game,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.
The Tide swarmed the Rebels’ offense and confused Wallace, who completed 17 of 31 passes for only 159 yards and was sacked twice.
“Pure domination,” Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “They had a few plays here and there, but three stops on fourth down, a safety and two turnovers. We played a great game.”
Clinton-Dix and Mosley led the charge defensively with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Mosley continued to make all of the defensive adjustments on the field and always had Alabama in the right play to counter Ole Miss’ offensive adjustments.
“He’s involved in everything,” Saban said. “He’s as much of a quarterback on defense as AJ (McCarron) is on offense. Making the calls, making adjustments.”
Added Mosley: “I’m just doing my job. I know everything comes through me. The calls come through me. … If we mess up, things fall on me. At the end of the day, I have to make sure we’re executing our game plan.”
Alabama’s offense did enough to keep the Rebels’ defense honest. Running back T.J. Yeldon lead the way with 17 carries for 121 rushing yards and a touchdown that came on a 68-yard explosion in which he slipped by an Ole Miss defender with a spin move his former teammate, Eddie Lacy, made popular at Alabama.
Yeldon spent much of the second half on the training table nursing what Saban called a “butt bruise,” but found time to break the Rebels’ spirits with a few long runs. Yeldon said his butt “is all right.”
“When we’re running the ball and passing the ball well, we can’t be stopped,” Yeldon said.
Kenyan Drake provided the one-two punch coaches and fans have been looking for. Drake carried the ball 12 times for 99 yards and a touchdown that came on a 50-yard burst down the sideline.
“I thought both backs played really well,” Saban said. “I thought both of those guys did a really good job. It’s going to be critical that we continue to see those guys play well. That (Jalston Fowler) plays well and some of our younger players come along at that position.”
McCarron completed a career-high 25 of 32 passes for 180 yards and no touchdowns. He also threw his third interception of the season, after throwing just three all of last year.
“Offensively, I was really pleased with the way we hung in there,” Saban said. “Didn’t run it very well in the first half, but did a better job in the second half. We did a good job on third down and kept drives alive. Obviously, we’d be happier if we scored more points.
“There were too many occasions where we stopped ourselves.”
Now, Alabama (4-0, 2-0 SEC) gets a little breather with Georgia State coming to town next Saturday. It hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but Alabama remains unbeaten with three of its toughest opponents behind it.
Still, looking at the bigger picture, Saban isn’t satisfied.
“I’m looking more at the standard, not the record,” Saban said.