| FTBL BAMA/Ole Miss Postgame



Maligned BAMA Defense Comes Through at The End; BAMA Wins 27-24

If you had not witnessed the game and I were to show you the defensive box score from today you might walk away thinking that BAMA handled Ole Miss in Oxford and that the game wasn't even that close. Unfortunately for BAMA fans, that was not the case, as once again BAMA's "cardiac kids" managed to make things a lot more interesting than the average fan, or even the average head coach, really cares for.

While the 3 turnovers, 7 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks forced by the BAMA defense all sound like solid numbers on paper, the effect is quickly lost when you look at the overall picture of today's performance. The fact is, BAMA's defense spent most of the day getting pushed around the field by an average Ole Miss offensive attack. The pushing was occasionally punctuated by an occasional defensive effort, but the 418 yards of total offense generated by the Rebels speaks for itself. And while the Tide defense made an occasional play they really couldn't put together enough of them in a series to stop the Ole Miss offense. For every sack or tackle for loss that BAMA defenders made, Ole Miss would just follow it up with a huge play on against the BAMA defense on the next. Ole Miss' final drive of the game was nothing short of a microcosm of the way the day went for BAMA's defense. While BAMA would play well on one play and sack opposing quarterback Seth Adams, on the next they would surrender a huge chunk of yardage. Very often during the final drive (as well as for most of the day) a young Tide secondary would be found the culprit.

But while we all know that the BAMA secondary has been abused and picked on for much of the year we all also understand where we are at talent-wise at this point in the process. And it is a process, as Coach Saban has repeatedly reminded us. It's a learning and growing process and the Tide is in the midst of it. And the process is likely to continue for some time, as things won't change overnight for the Alabama program.

Having said all of that now, I would like to point at that while BAMA's defense did give up points and yards in chunks throughout much of the day, they never ever quit. They never gave up even when playing in a hostile environment under adverse circumstances, when it would have been so much easier to just call it a day and go home. In my opinion, Ole Miss's last offensive play of the game goes a long way in describing the pluck and grit of this bunch of kids. While it's true that the game was basically decided by an instant replay reversal that wiped out a huge Ole Miss gain, it's also true that BAMA defenders had a lot to do with why the play was reviewed in the first place.

The Play


BAMA defensive back Lionel Mitchell wrestles for the ball with wide receiver Shay Hodge. Photo by Bruce Newman/AP

With BAMA holding the lead with only about 15 seconds left in the game Ole Miss was forced to gamble on a long throw to get the ball close enough to the end zone for a game-winning touchdown, or game-tying field goal. As the ball was snapped Ole Miss quarterback Seth Adams drops back, then finds a receiver Shay Hodge streaking down the sideline. After launching the ball approximately 40 yards down field what came next was easily the most gut-wrenching five minutes of the game for both sides.

As Hodge and Mitchell battled for position and the ball it appeared to many that Mitchell actually came down with the interception, though it was hard to tell. By the end of the play Hodge had wrestled possession of the ball away from Mitchell, and the play was initially ruled a catch. At this point the officials decide to review the play. The average fan suspects that the review is to decide possession. After reviewing the play the ruling on the field is reversed due to the determination that Shay Hodge ran out of bounds before making the reception (which is still up in the air in many people's minds).

Now while I know that on the surface the game was basically decided by the officials on a review, I want BAMA fans to look a little deeper at the actual situation and how things unfolded like they did. Here's the thing; You have to give Lionel Mitchell a lot of credit for continually picking himself up off the turf play after play, game after game. It's not as if he's had the most solid season in 2007. In fact, he seems to be the prime target for many opposing offensive coordinators this year, and rightfully so. He's just not had a stellar season thus far. Today he was picked on as well, but what I admire is his heart and his character. His ability to try and put the previous play out of his mind, line up, and play as hard as he possibly can on the next play.

You know, Lionel Mitchell may be playing on a beleaguered secondary, and he may in fact be part of the reason the secondary is beleaguered. But I'll tell you one thing. It's the opinion of this writer that we won today because of, and not in spite of, Lionel Mitchell. Review the tape. Mitchell played the route as well as a defensive back could have possibly played it. He didn't force the receiver out. He simply played it with enough physical presence to make the receiver alter his route. He timed his jump and was in perfect position to atleast give himself a shot at a play. Not only did he have a shot, it's the opinion of many fans that he actually DID make the play. At worst one would have to say that he shared possession of the ball as he hit the ground.

Our defense isn't what we normally expect. The overall talent isn't there either. Though Lionel made a play today i have no illusions regarding him, the secondary, or the rest of the unit as a whole. I know full well what teams like Tennessee and LSU are capable of doing to us. But what we have to remember is the very thing that Nick Saban has been telling us all along. "It's a process". We're in the midst of the process and the process might get harder before it get's easier. I don't know. What I do know is that the process won't be completed overnight. It will take some time. Bit that is where we're at right now and we as fans have to be patient with the process.

Best of The Rest/Random Thoughts

Well, I think it's safe to say that Wallace Gilberry went a long way in proving that last week's monster performance was no fluke. In fact, I'd argue that he was about the only player that showed up to play a full game today. He accounted for half of BAMA's sacks and tackles for a loss today. He also ramped up the intensity late when we needed it the most.

The offense surprised me a little today in that they didn't put up more yards and points. Had we executed better in the red zone we would have though. We continue to eat up chunks of yardage between the 20's yet fail to execute near the goalline. We're so ready to bust out offensively on someone.

Is there a player on the team more automatic than D.J. Hall? Is there a player nationally more overlooked and unappreciated than D.J. Hall? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that the lack of notoriety hasn't stopped D.J. from being arguably the team's most consistent player this year. Hall finished the game with another impressive box score as he hauled in 11 passes for almost 140 yards.

At what point will opposing offensive coordinators decide that throwing towards Simeon Castille might not be the best idea? Who knows, who cares? Castille doesn't, as he picked off yet another pass today.

The running back by committee approach seems to be working well as Terry Grant, Glenn Coffee and Roy Upchurch all put up solid numbers while splitting carries. What has to improve though is the yards per carry average (2.8 ) and Coffee's apparent fumbling problems.

Bottom line is a win is a win, and at this point BAMA has a solid shot at finishing the season with atleast 7 wins, and likely 8. Much of that will depend on us beating the teams we're supposed to beat and snagging one from the big 3 to finish the season with eight wins.
Great Read! I can't understand why these DB's don't usually go up and slap these balls out of bounds or to the groud. I think Mitchell did a good bang-up hustle job of coverage and making the catch, and put no blame on him, but sometimes, our guys and others on 4th down go for the pick instead of the knock down. I would want that ball touching the ground as my main goal on those 4th and long plays. JMO
I hope we get to at least 7-5 but I think 6-6 is also a real possibility. With MSU playing much improved you never know. The Ole Miss game was a HUGE game for us that we needed badly. It could be the difference in a bowl appearance.
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