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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – C.J. Mosley racked up tackles, deflected a couple of passes and smoothly handed off on a fake punt that helped get Alabama rolling.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide's All-America linebacker came up big in any number of different ways in Saturday night's 38-17 win over No. 18 LSU.
Really, what else is new? Mosley has been the leader and star of one of the nation's best defenses all season. The perfectly executed fake punt in Alabama territory when the game was tied in the third quarter was just a 'Bama bonus.
He took the direct snap, headed left and neatly tucked the ball into Jarrick Williams' gut going the other direction for a first down on fourth-and-2.
"I trust C.J. to do anything," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Watch my kids, take care of my house. So a (punt) fake is not much.
"C.J. is just so conscientious about everything does that you know he's going to execute and do it exactly like you told him to do it. He did a good job."
Alabama (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) went on to score a touchdown to break the 17-17 deadlock and take control of the game.
Mosley played his typically huge role on Alabama's defense. He had 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and added two pass breakups that could have been interceptions. The drops might have been the only negative in his performance.
Mosley has been the rock of a defense that has navigated the two-game suspension of free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and the season-ending knee injury of strong safety Vinnie Sunseri, along with other injuries and suspensions. The Tide and Louisville are tied for the national lead in scoring defense, giving up 10.6 points a game.
Alabama is trying to become the first team to yield the nation's fewest points three years running. If it happens, Mosley's decision to return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft will be a big reason.
It's no surprise even to him that he's played such a big role.
"I pretty much knew that," Mosley said. "My senior year, I earned the right to be where I'm at. I paid my dues, I waited my turn. Playing all downs in this type of game when people are saying, 'Oh he's too small, he's not that type of linebacker.' I played all four quarters, regular, nickel, dime, everything. We proved to be one of the best teams out there (Saturday night) and one of the best teams in the country."
The 6-foot-2, 238-pounder finally is the full-time starter since run-stopper Nico Johnson departed for the NFL. Johnson was on the sidelines for the LSU game and gave Mosley a reminder of his important role after the Tide came out of the locker room for the second half.
"It kind of hit me," Mosley said. "It just fired me up more. When we execute and do what we have to do, we have a great team."
Mosley is a semifinalist for three national honors: the Lombardi Award for the nation's best lineman or linebacker; the Bednarik Award (most outstanding defensive player) and the Butkus Award (linebacker).
He's Alabama's leading tackler and it's not even close. Mosley has 71 tackles and safety Landon Collins is No. 2 with 38.
The normally soft-spoken Mosley also addressed the team after a lackluster performance against Colorado State. Alabama has won its five SEC games since by an average of 34.8 points.
"He's the leader of our team," defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said. "He's like the captain of the ship. He comes out there, he gets the call, he tries to relay it to everybody else. He controls everything."