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October 13, 2012COLUMBIA, Mo. | Alabama coach Nick Saban expected the University of Alabama's defense to have some problems with Missouri's offense Saturday. The Crimson Tide did have a few difficulties, but it inflicted more damage on the Tigers.
Alabama held Missouri to nine first downs, intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in a 42-10 victory. Of equal importance, the Crimson Tide came up with big plays at the right times to stall most of the offensive momentum that Missouri was able to muster.
"The one thing that I think helped us was the pressure on the quarterback and getting some sacks at critical times in the game," Saban said. "The couple turnovers were very helpful."
Eddie Lacy's 73-yard touchdown run on Alabama's second snap set a tone for UA's offense. The Alabama defense got a tone-setter when linebacker C.J. Mosley buried Mizzou quarterback Corbin Berkstresser on the Tigers' third offensive play, causing an incompletion on third-and-9.
Alabama's second touchdown was set up by Vinnie Sunseri's first-quarter interception on a pass that popped out of the hands of receiver L'Damian Washington, giving the Crimson Tide possession at midfield.
After UA quarterback AJ McCarron lost a fumble deep in Missouri territory early in the second quarter, the UA defense stepped up to make sure the Tigers didn't seize any momentum. Defensive lineman Ed Stinson sacked Berkstresser on third-and-4 to force a punt.
"Big plays come when you execute," linebacker Adrian Hubbard said. "Everyone's going to have an opportunity to make a big play. We play assignment football, so plays are always going to be there."
After falling behind early, Missouri had its best chance to get back into the game late in the second quarter. Trailing 28-7, Missouri took over at the UA 34 when Cody Mandell mishandled a punt snap.
Berkstresser completed a 24-yard pass to the Alabama 11, but three plays later Hubbard had his chance to make a big play. He rushed into the backfield unblocked, hitting the Missouri quarterback like a freight train for a fumble-causing sack. Mosley recovered, ending the scoring threat.
"We were just trying to do our best to affect the quarterback," Mosley said. "It's really all about momentum, when we get a big play or when they get a big play, it's a big momentum change. We've got to go out there and make big plays and cause a turnover for us."
The expected trouble for Alabama's defense came in trying to ready for Missouri's spread offense. Saban said it made for "a difficult preparation" week.
"They try to spread you out and they can still run the ball," Mosley said. "It's really just about making the right calls with the D-line. Once we get pressure on the quarterback, we just had to cover."
Alabama's defense didn't mind playing in the heavy rain. Missouri's artificial turf kept it from being a mud game, but condtions were far from perfect.
For defensive players it's fun," Mosley said. "That's what it's all about, getting down and dirty. For a defense, you've got to play through any kind of weather."
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.