Alabama coach Nick Saban said his defense's struggles had him wondering if Ole Miss knew the Crimson Tide's signals during his team's 63-48 victory on Saturday night in Oxford, Mississippi.
Saban projected calm on the sideline for much of the game, but inside he said he was “boiling and bubbling” watching his defense reel, giving up 647 yards.
“It seemed like everything we did though they had an answer for,” Saban said. “I don't know if they had our signals or what. That's not anything unusual. It seemed like every time we called something, they had the best play that they could have against it.”
He added: “We didn't do anything well. We didn't stop the run. We gave up some plays on the back end. … Just didn't play very well.”
Ole Miss' 48 points was the most No. 2 Alabama has allowed to an unranked opponent in the AP era (since 1936).
Crimson Tide linebacker Dylan Moses said he “definitely” believes that Ole Miss had figured out their defensive signals, pointing to head coach Lane Kiffin's knowledge of the program dating back to his time as Alabama offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2016.
“They had an answer for everything, what we were lined up in,” Moses said.
Nick Saban wasn't happy with his defense's performance after Ole Miss scored 48 points, the most Alabama has allowed to an unranked opponent in the AP era (since 1936). Bruce Newman via USA TODAY Sports
Saban, who took responsibility for the defense's play, said there are “a lot of opportunities for us to learn and grow from this game.”
“We've never played this way on defense,” he said. “It's certainly not what we aspire to try to be as a defensive team, and we're going to work hard with our players.
“I believe in our players. And I think we have to get our players to play better. I think we're capable of it.”
Alabama and Ole Miss' 111 combined points was the most ever in a regulation game in SEC history. The Crimson Tide's 723 yards of offense ranks second in SEC history.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith tied a school record with 13 receptions and became the first Alabama player in the past 20 years to have 150 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown in the same game.
“I would have never guessed you would see an SEC game with these stats here,” said Kiffin, in his first season at Ole Miss (1-2) after spending the previous three leading Florida Atlantic. “Three punts in the entire game. Most points in the history of an SEC regulation game, especially against Coach Saban and that defense.”
Asked why scoring across the conference is up, Kiffin said, “Maybe COVID?”
“Missing spring ball, missing the tackling in that and fundamentals has something to do with it,” he said. “I would have never guessed this. I joked with [Saban] afterwards, I talked to him: ‘I thought they played defense in the SEC.' Just joking because he was kind of laughing about the defense. This is three games in a row like this. I would not have thought this.”
Alabama, which improved to 3-0, hosts No. 3 Georgia next Saturday.