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October 1, 2012TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama defense has yet to allow more than 14 points in a game this season, but as upcoming opponents look to find ways to score more, the Ole Miss game might be a reference point from which to start.
In Saturday's 33-14 loss to the Crimson Tide, the Rebels engineered the only two touchdown drives of 10 or more plays against UA's first-team defense this season. And the no-huddle offense was a common thread in both -- a 13-play, 75-yard drive in the first half and a 16-play, 70-yard drive in the second.
"You get pretty tired, pretty quick. We practiced for it a lot," nose guard Jesse Williams said of the Ole Miss no-huddle approach. "It was obviously a really fast-paced game and I think we did really well. It's just hard to get subs in and out, but I think we did pretty good."
Florida Atlantic posted a 15-play scoring drive against UA the previous week, although that drive came against UA's defensive reserves. Ole Miss posted 218 yards in total offense.
"Sometimes in the game they got up to the line quicker than we did and got some yards, but for the most part we did good," added cornerback Dee Milliner.
McCarron by the numbers
UA quarterback AJ McCarron continues to rank among the nation's top passers in efficiency rating, now seventh in the NCAA with a rating of 177.04. McCarron is completing 66 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns, and is also one of the few starters in the country who has yet to throw an interception. The nation's leader in pass efficiency, West Virginia's Geno Smith at 208.37, has 20 touchdown passes without an interception.
McCarron also leads all Southeastern Conference passers in career winning percentage as a starter. At 17-1, McCarron has won 94 percent of his career starts. South Carolina's Connor Shaw ranks second at .923 (12-1). Georgia's Aaron Murray has the most total victories at 21 (21-11).
Stats and stuff
A few notable national rankings for Alabama after five weeks of play:
* UA ranks No.4 in the NCAA in rush defense at 65.8 yards per game.
* UA ranks No.3 in the NCAA in pass defense at 125.8 yards per game.
* In total defense, Alabama ranks No.2 in the nation at 191.6 yards per game, behind only Texas Tech.
* Alabama's scoring defense ranks No.1 in the NCAA at 7.0 points per game.
"Amari's a very good receiver, a good teammate. He's done a good job. He progresses every day and that's what we're going to need now that DeAndrew's out. We're going to need more guys to step up and make plays for us." - AJ McCarron on freshman Amari Cooper's eight-catch performance Saturday.
Billy Varner, who was legendary Alabama coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant's personal assistant and driver, died Monday at age 76 after a long illness. Varner was also a 20-year veteran of the UA police force from 1976-1996.
"Billy was a faithful man to this University, to this athletic department and to coach Bryant in particular," said UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore.
The UA coaching staff named six players for weekly honors against Ole Miss. Amari Cooper and D.J. Fluker were named for offense, Dee Milliner and C.J. Mosley were named for defense, and special teams players of the week were Christion Jones and Jeremy Shelley. ... Alabama has outscored opponents 62-0 in the first quarter this season, and has not allowed first-quarter points since the Iron Bowl last year when Auburn scored on a fumble recovery after a sack of McCarron. The last time Alabama's defense allowed first-quarter points was a 40-yard field goal by Tennessee's Michael Palardy last season. ... With 8.5 tackles against Ole Miss, UA linebacker C.J. Mosley extended his team lead in that category and now has 30.5 on the season. Nico Johnson is Alabama's No.2 tackler at 17.5 for the year. ... Alabama has intercepted 6.98 percent of opposing passes this season, the second-highest percentage in the nation behind Fresno State. ... The Crimson Tide will resume practice Tuesday. Saban will hold one news conference during the idle week after Tuesday's practice.
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Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.