Alabama's defense was stung for a program-record 628 yards on Sept.14, when the Crimson Tide outlasted Texas A&M 49-42.
A 31-6 win the following week over Colorado State had Alabama defenders in slightly better spirits, but their mood improved significantly with last week's 25-0 blanking of Ole Miss. The Rebels had been hopeful of putting up the points inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, but they were held to 46 rushing yards, 205 total yards and just 21 minutes and 31 seconds of possession time.
"It was pure domination," Tide senior linebacker C.J. Mosley told reporters immediately after the game.
A 6-foot-3, 232-pounder from Theodore, Ala., Mosley provided his share of wreckage with nine tackles and a tackle for loss in a performance that earned him Southeastern Conference defensive player of the week. His lost-yardage stop of Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace resulted in a safety that put the Crimson Tide up 18-0 with 5:43 remaining.
In the third quarter, the Rebels had driven to Alabama's 7-yard line, but Mosley batted away a fourth-and-2 pass by Wallace.
"The guy is a fantastic player, but beyond that he is a fantastic person," Alabama coach Nick Saban said during Monday's news conference. "He's got a lot of athleticism and he's got a lot of talent, but he also has a lot of true grit in him in terms of the kind of competitor he is and how he plays. The guy just doesn't know how to take a play off."
Saban made Mosley take plays off following his safety and the ensuing free kick. On the next play from scrimmage, Alabama tailback Kenyan Drake broke free for a 50-yard touchdown that capped the scoring and sent most of Saban's starters to the sideline.
"We really wanted to stay in the game the whole time after all the talking they did," Mosley said. "We really weren't paying attention to it, but we heard it. We definitely heard it, but it was another day at Alabama. We did our talking on the field."
Mosley has been a continual Crimson Tide contributor since his freshman season in 2010, when he finished third on the team with 67 tackles and returned interceptions for touchdowns against Florida and Georgia State. Alabama hosts Georgia State for a second time Saturday.
He was an All-American and a Butkus Award finalist last season, when he racked up 107 tackles playing mostly in nickel and dime packages. Mosley started and played in all formations during the 42-14 rout of Notre Dame for the BCS title, and that has carried over into this season.
"This is the first year since he's been here that he plays all downs," Saban said. "He's so athletic and has always been a really good space player. He's always played well in a spread-out situation, whether it was nickel or dime or whatever, and he's gotten bigger and is a little stronger.
"He's a little better at taking on blocks now. He's so instinctive and so quick that he doesn't have to overpower people, but he's a good player in every situation and every circumstance in a game now."
Mosley announced last December that he would return for his senior season, and he can become the fourth consensus two-time All-American in program history. Blazing that path previously were defensive end Leroy Cook (1974-75), nose tackle Terrence Cody (2008-09) and offensive lineman Barrett Jones (2011-12).
Through four games, Mosley leads the Crimson Tide with 35 tackles.
"I don't care what the circumstance is," Saban said. "Whether he's on special teams or any role that you have for him, he's about as fine a competitor as anybody we've had an opportunity to coach through the years. We certainly appreciate that, and I think the example he sets is really important in terms of leadership with the players on our team.
"He's certainly somebody we need."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...