After the 29-0 victory in Baton Rouge last weekend against #3 LSU Tiger, the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide looked invincible. Throughout the week, most of the talk was if Alabama lost, they would still be in the playoffs. This kind of idea and talk infuriates head coach Nick Saban regarding his team and their stability. All this hype and image of a perfect team puts a giant target on their back. That is exactly what the #16 Mississippi State Bulldogs gave the Tide this past Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Tide’s offense struggled heavily while the defense shutout Bulldogs 24-0.
Tide’s Offense Struggled In shutout Win Of Bulldogs
The Crimson Tide Offense Were Most Vulnerable
Alabama encountered their lowest scoring game of the season as they faced a tough Bulldogs defense. Before the game, the Bulldogs ranked tied 3rd in the nation in points allowed per game (12.3). The Bulldogs also ranked 6th in total yards allowed per game (279) and 7th in passing yards allowed per game (107.2). This defense strives for excellent coverage on opposing receivers from the secondary as well as penetration from the D-Line. The Tide were able to get 14 points and multiple minutes off the clock in two drives. Once the Bulldogs got situated in the defensive line and linebackers, the Crimson Tide pushed too much and often at the line of scrimmage. This made it difficult to pass the ball consistently and make efficient runs.
A week after Alabama’s offensive line had the best performance of the season against LSU, they arguably had their worst against the Bulldogs. The Crimson Tide offensive line allowed four sacks, seven tackles for loss, and 3 QB hurries from the Bulldogs defense. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa accounted for 14 completions (out of 21 attempts) for 164 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one fumble, and a QBR of 37.9. This was the worst performance of Tagovailoa’s season as he was pressured constantly and held onto the ball too long. He also had to leave the game early in the third quarter because of his right knee that’s been bothering him since week seven.. With Jalen Hurts still recovering from his ankle surgery, the Tide put in Mac Jones. The Tide’s offense looked lost as they only accounted for 305 total yards.
Tide’s Defense Makes History With Another Shutout
While the offense struggled against Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide’s defense picked up the slack and more. For the second week in a row, the Tide’s defense shut out an opposing offense of an AP ranked team. This is the first time in College Football nation that a defense shutout two ranked teams in a row. Alabama’s defense only allowed 169 total yards from the Bulldogs offense including 44 from the rushing game. The Bulldogs only converted 1-out-of-13 on third downs against the Tide’s defense. Once again, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was the star of the Crimson Tide defense by closing running lanes at the line of scrimmages and making plays in the backfield. Williams accounted for 6 total tackles, 4 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. He was voted the SEC Defensive Line Player of the Week after his incredible week 11 performance.
Defensive end Raekwon Davis accounted for six total tackles, two solo tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Safety Xavier McKinney continues to stay consistent in zone coverage and reading the play transitioning. McKinney accounted for five total tackles, three solo tackles, and two pass deflections. Another cornerback Jared Mayden stepped up his performance and input for the Tide defense by accounting for three solo tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Overall the Crimson Tide defense accounted for an astounding 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, four pass deflections, and three quarterback hurries. Alabama’s constant pass rush proved to be too much for Bulldogs dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. He only passed for 11 completions (out of 20 attempts) for 125 yards, accounted for a QBR of 9.6, and accounted for -23 rushing yards on 14 rushes.
Tide Prepares For An Easier Opponent
This season grind, like most teams, has been tough for the Alabama Crimson Tide on both sides of the ball. The Tide’s defense started the season in a transition but got better throughout the season. Within the past few weeks, the Tide’s offense has shown signs of weakness particularly due to injuries. The Crimson Tide are not invincible in terms of the complete structure of the team. If the offensive line continues to struggle to protect Tagovailoa, he will not recover from his knee injury. Losing Tagovailoa for any signs of the season, especially this late, is a huge blow the #1 ranked team.
This week, Alabama has a chance to regroup and fix the performance issues they encountered against Mississippi State last weekend. This week will not be a good time for the starters to take a week off from practicing and prepping mentally for the Citadel Bulldogs. Alabama needs to go into this game by performing the way they usually do to get their consistency back in sync. Getting Tagovailoa healthy is one of the top priorities this week along with having the offensive line play better.