Not long ago, the #12 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1) were all, but eliminated, from the College Football Playoffs. There were serious doubts that the offense and coaches of the Crimson Tide would have the team eliminated by the end of September. The first half of the 24-10 win at home against #15 Ole Miss was a disaster. In the second half, however, the Tide completely turned it around and played their best half of the season. Alabama will move on with their next opponent with a strong feeling of hope as they go on the road to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-2). The defense has a chance to take on a new look at the Bulldogs’ offense. Offensively, this game is the best chance for Alabama to develop the passing game that has held them back this season. Let’s take a look at Alabama and Mississippi State.
Alabama Starts Comeback Season
The Offense Showed the First Signs of Improvement
The Tide went from Jalen Milroe three weeks ago in the loss to the Texas Longhorns to Tyler Buchner a week later against South Florida. Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees needed to see what Buchner could do with the reps. Last week, the Tide instantly chose to back to Milroe as he has some upside as opposed to Buchner. Milroe found himself constantly pressured by the tremendous pass of the Ole Miss Rebels. The offensive line, who continued to get worse, allowed four sacks and nine tackles for loss. The offense of the Tide only accumulated 115 total yards in the first half, with 93 coming from the passing.
For the first time this season, Alabama made serious offensive adjustments at halftime. The offensive line played their best half of the season. Redshirt freshman Elijah Pritchett replaced the disappointing true freshman Kadyn Proctor. Milroe was able to stay in the pocket longer and connect with his receivers. Milroe finished completing 17-of-21 of his passes for 225 yards, a touchdown, and an interception he has to learn from.
Alabama’s Passing Offense Has a Chance to Skyrocket
Milroe has his best chance to develop as the Tide take on a vulnerable Bulldogs’ defense. Mississippi State’s defense ranks 88th in the nation in points allowed per game (27.2) and 120th in passing yards allowed per game (265.8). The Bulldogs’ secondary hasn’t been the same since cornerback Emmanuel Forbes Jr. left early for the 2023 NFL Draft. Alabama doesn’t have an established number-one receiver for Milroe. A leader from the receiver corps needs to step up and take the opportunity to help the Tide’s passing offense develop. The top two options are Jermaine Burton (189 yards on eight receptions) and Isaiah Bond (162 yards on 11 receptions).
Alabama’s Defense Looks to Remain at High-Level
While Alabama’s offense struggled, the defense played their best game of the season against the Rebels. Alabama held a dynamic and energetic offense of Ole Miss to 301 total yards. This Saturday against the Bulldogs, the Tide are taking on a completely different style of offense than in the past few seasons. Head coach Zach Arnett changed the offense from the air raid to a more traditional spread. With the Bulldogs running the ball more, the front seven of the Tide will need to remain active. The Tide will be without weakside linebacker Deontae Lawson for several games. This will force sophomore Jihaad Campbell or junior Kendrick Blackshire to step up and a key run-stopper of a Tide’s defense that is looking to get back to playing bully ball.