(3) Alabama - 22, (20) Mississippi - 3
- Chris Talbott, AP Writer
October 11, 2009


  Cory Reamer
Alabama's Cory Reamer (13) blocks a punt by Mississippi's Tyler Campbell (97).
OXFORD, Miss. (AP)—Alabama’s plan for containing Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead was pretty simple: Hit him and hit him hard.

“We hit their quarterback just about every time in the first half and I think it affected him,” coach Nick Saban said.

Did it ever.

The game was effectively over by halftime after the second-ranked Crimson Tide rocked the Rebels’ leader and Alabama (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) wiped away any lingering questions about performing against a top offense.

Snead was mentioned in the same sentence as guys like Tebow and McCoy by Heisman Trophy handicappers before the season started. A rough start washed away some of that luster, but Alabama took the junior seriously after watching him rally the Rebels from far behind last season in ‘Bama’s 24-20 win in Tuscaloosa.

“You could tell by some of the passes he was throwing” that Alabama’s defense rattled Snead, said Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, one of four players to intercept a pass from Snead on Saturday. “We know what type of quarterback he is and what he is capable of. We were trying to get some hits on him and get him rattled. We could tell the difference in passing decision making.”

Alabama snapped Snead’s streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown pass and held the Rebels to the lowest point total in the series since a shutout in 1996.

The Rebels managed just 19 yards of total offense in the first half and one first down before finishing with 212 total yards.

“This is the fastest defense if you went from 1-11 (players),” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “From corners to safeties to linebackers to defensive linemen, this is the best I’ve seen.”

The Crimson Tide has forced nine turnovers in two weeks after taking just four from its first four opponents. Alabama has forced at least one turnover a game in 28 of 33 games under Saban, averaging 1.8 per contest in that span.

Alabama just plain roughed up Ole Miss at times, twice snatching interceptions out of the hands of receivers.

With top-ranked Florida knocking off then-No. 4 LSU and then-No. 17 Auburn losing to Arkansas, a once wide-open SEC West is now Alabama’s to take.

“Can we stay focused on doing the things that we need to do to improve, to be as good as we can be?” Saban asked. “We cannot get complacent because that is the key to the drill. The passion to want to do it, the passion to stay with it, the passion to continue to go through the grind, and there are numerous teams every week that have a difficult time with that and don’t play well.”

While the Crimson Tide was able to answer some questions, the Rebels were left with more to sort through.

Snead continued to struggle, tying his career high for interceptions a week after throwing three in a win over Vanderbilt.

He was badly out of sync against Alabama, missing dump passes, forgetting his footwork at times and throwing into coverage occasionally.

Yet Nutt was careful to point out that the junior is not responsible for all of his turnovers. Alabama defenders twice took apparent catches away from wide receivers for interceptions and the pressure was overwhelming at times. There was also a handful of drops.

“I think he knows and he’ll be the first to tell you that he can play better,” Nutt said. “You just don’t want to turn it over. That’s been our biggest problem.”

Nutt rebuffed reporters’ questions about an offensive regression starting with the 16-10 loss to South Carolina. He noted Saturday’s opponent is known for making offenses look inept.

“We ran into a real wall today,” he said.



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