Alabama Looks To Rebound At Mississippi State

Alabama Mississippi State

Last week in the 41-38 loss to an unranked Texas A&M team, the Alabama Crimson Tide had one of their worst team performances since 2019. Penalties, turnovers, being unable to score touchdowns in the red zone, and allowing too many big plays and it still took the Aggies to beat Alabama with a field goal. That being said, Alabama cannot afford another loss as they still possess a great shot for the College Football Playoff. Alabama has a 54% chance to reach the playoff, which is the third-best in the nation, according to ESPN’s playoff predictor. They will get their chance to rebound physically and mentally as #5 Alabama (5-1) travels to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2).

Alabama Looks To Rebound At Mississippi State

The Alabama Offense Needs To Be More Consistent In The Red Zone

Alabama has shown to possess one of the most explosive offenses in college football this season. They rank sixth in the nation in points per game (44.3) through a well-balanced offense. The Tide, however, has experienced some recent inconsistencies when it comes to scoring touchdowns in the red zone. While Alabama has scored on 30 of its 33 trips in the red zone, only 22 of them have resulted in touchdowns. To other teams, this would be a successful statistic. For an efficient Alabama offense, it is troubling.

Alabama scored only two touchdowns in the red zone last week against Texas A&M. They scored three field goals when they entered the red zone. They made too many mistakes that stalled the offense including a couple of key sacks on quarterback Bryce Young, utilizing no run plays from offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and an interception from quarterback Bryce Young on third down and one.

Mississippi State’s defense has been in 10 red-zone situations where they have allowed eight scores, but only three touchdowns. The defense for the Bulldogs is efficient at slowing the opposing offenses under the direction of second-year defensive coordinator Zach Arnett. Mississippi State ranks 28th in the nation in total yards allowed per game (300.6). They also rank 70th in the nation in points allowed per game (25). O’Brien will need to have a better game plan against opposing defenses that will allow Alabama to score consistently. They will need to utilize more run plays to not have Alabama’s offense predictable. Alabama utilizes too many screens and quick-outs while in the red zone. Young needs more opportunity to spread the ball throughout the field.

Alabama Needs To Be Ready For Mississippi State Air Raid

Last week against Texas A&M, the defense of Alabama played its worst game of the season. They looked lost as defensive coordinator Pete Golding couldn’t get his plays in efficiently. It didn’t help that sophomore star/safety Malachi Moore was ejected for targeting. The defense was dominated by the offensive line of Texas A&M. While the offensive line of Mississippi State is not as talented as the Aggies, they still have enough consistency to keep the quarterback of the Air Raid offense protected. The Bulldogs have allowed only ten sacks this season. This will be a game where the pass rush for Alabama to rebound after a lackluster performance against the Aggies. Will Anderson didn’t account for a sack, quarterback pressures, or tackles for loss. The rest of the defensive line needs to step up their productivity for the second half of the season.

The Air Raid offense for Mississippi State is a difficult scheme to stop once they find a rhythm. Alabama cannot allow a 17-point performance in the first quarter against Mississippi State as they did for Texas A&M. Senior cornerback Josh Jobe has been at the center of creating holding or pass interference calls for each of the past several games. Jobe needs to play more consistent coverages that Jalyn-Armour Davis has been showing six games into the season. Alabama has been more efficient in protecting against the passing game. They currently ranked 34th in the nation and fifth in the SEC in passing yards allowed per game (181.2). Alabama’s defensive line and secondary will be the deicing factor of their tempo throughout the game. Mississippi State’s offense ranks fifth in passing yards per game (361.8).

All Bama Coaches Need To Prepare Better 

Ultimately, the loss to an unranked Texas A&M team falls on head coach Nick Saban and his coaching staff. There was a clear indication that Alabama did not prepare efficiently for the matchup versus Texas A&M. Offensively, Bill O’Brien made too many predictable and questionable play calls that resulted in punts, field goals, or turnovers. Alabama’s defense allowed an average-to-below-average quarterback in Zach Calzada to look like an All-American. Saban needs to prepare his coaches and players better as they finish preparations for a potentially dangerous Mississippi State. If they lose track of their vision, they will fall short of reaching the playoff for only the second time in playoff history.

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