By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
OXFORD – The Ole Miss defense had trouble stopping the run in the weeks leading up to its biggest challenge of the season, confronting potential Heisman Trophy winner Trent Richardson.
Saturday was no different for the Rebels, who came into the game ranking 10th in the SEC – and 95th in the nation – against the run.
Richardson scored his first two touchdowns, on runs of 8 and 7 yards, and neared the century mark by halftime.
By the middle of the third quarter, he had a hefty 183 yards and a season-high four scores on just 17 carries. His 76-yard scoring run with 7:37 to go in the third put the exclamation point on season-high night.
It was his final touch of the game and capped the second-best rushing performance in the SEC this season.
“He runs real hard and he never stops moving his feet until he scores,” said Ole Miss linebacker Mike Marry.
Richardson and Alabama coach Nick Saban said they had a specific plan to run against the Rebels.
“We knew their defensive tackles were going to try and crash as much as they could, so we had to hit the outside first and then worked the middle,” said Richardson, who ran for 181 yards on Oct. 1 against Alabama. “In the first half, the cut (back) was open and we just hit them in the mouth with it in the second half.”
Alabama finished with a season-high 389 rushing yards in the Crimson Tide’s best scoring effort in an SEC game since 1990.
“Trent had a great game, but I thought the offensive line did a fabulous job,” said Saban. “We had a really good plan against what they do to run the ball.”
Although the Ole Miss defense has had trouble shedding blocks in recent weeks, Saban said he thought it was more of his offensive line completing the play than any Ole Miss shortcomings. But Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones said he could see the Ole Miss defensive front down getting tired as the game progressed.
“They had some good players up front, but I think they got tired as the game went on and we really started to beat on them physically,” Jones said.