Alabama vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Alabama toppled the Mississippi State Bulldogs by a final of 25-20 to make a huge statement in the CFB Playoff race. The Tide rode its three interceptions and an efficient day from quarterback Blake Sims to the win. The Tide dominated Mississippi State in the first half, and though Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott attempted to rally his team in the second half, the Alabama defense intercepted Prescott twice in the second half, and Blake Sims administered a magnificent back-breaking 15-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

The Good

Alabama’s three interceptions were truly the difference in the game. All three picks snuffed out potential scoring drives for State. Prescott threw a touchdown with fifteen seconds left to make the score look better, but Landon Collins’ interception on the drive before truly ended the game. Alabama hasn’t managed to force a ton of turnovers in 2014, but the Tide defense made some huge plays against the top team in the land with the entire nation looking on. The defense also contributed the first points of the game with a safety.

The way the coaching staff monitored TJ Yeldon’s playing time was terrific coming off of his lower leg injury. Yeldon only had eight carries going into the late scoring drive, and on that drive alone had six carries for 33 yards and a score. Making sure Yeldon was healthy going into crunch time may have been the smartest move all year by Nick Saban and company.

On that same fourth quarter drive Blake Sims was terrific. He converted three third downs including two with his feet to keep the drive going. Sims had huge throws in the first half as well, including touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.

Offenses continue to challenge and attempt to pick on Cyrus Jones and Jones just continues to win those matchups. His interception in the endzone was a massive play in the second half and he continuously was stride for stride with his man all game as Prescott tried to go after him. Jones has become the most consistent cornerback on the team. Eddie Jackson also had a huge game, breaking up three passes, though he did get beat a couple of times including for a score, but Jackson looks to be finally getting back to his pre-injury status.

Alabama may have found another weapon on offense in freshman ArDarius Stewart. Stewart might be the most athletic receiver on the team, boasting a 40-inch vertical leap, and his speed gives him the ability to stretch the field unlike few others can. This led to a pass interference penalty early in the game and he could become a huge weapon for Alabama going forward.

The Bad

The three-and-outs in the second half put the defense in a bad situation, and though the defense bailed them out numerous times, they also eventually broke, allowing big plays by Dak Prescott. Prescott made plays in the second half with his feet after it seemed like Alabama switched to man coverage more in the second half. It may have been a result of State being forced to pass more often because of the Alabama lead, but in the first half Alabama played much more zone coverage, which allows the defense to keep an eye on the quarterback and it led to Alabama stifling Prescott’s ability to run and scramble.

Drops on offense were again a problem for Alabama with OJ Howard, Amari Cooper, and DeAndrew White all making costly drops during the game including on third downs. This has become a problem in the past two weeks and needs to be corrected immediately.

Adam Griffith continues to struggle with consistency hitting his first field goal and then missing his second field goal attempt horribly.

The Ugly

Alabama had seven penalties , many of which were boneheaded, including personal fouls and Cyrus Jones lining up offsides in the red zone.

Alabama is one of the best teams in the country in converting third downs but for the second straight week third down was a nightmare for Alabama. Alabama was just 5 for 15 on third downs, three of those conversions coming on Alabama’s scoring drive in the fourth quarter, and it really caused a lot of problems especially in the second half. This is something Alabama needs to get back to improving on down the stretch.

Final Stats

Blake Sims: 19-31, 211 yards, 1 TD; 4 carries, 19 yards

TJ Yeldon: 16 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 16 yards
Derrick Henry: 11 carries, 36 yards, 1 TD

Amari Cooper: 8 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD
DeAndrew White: 4 catches, 40 yards
ArDarius Stewart: 2 catches, 25 yards
Jalston Fowler: 1 catch, 35 yards
Brian Vogler: 1 catch, 5 yards
OJ Howard: 1 catch, 2 yards

Nick Perry: 12 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 INT
Reggie Ragland: 10 tackles
Trey DePriest: 9 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 safety
Jarran Reed: 8 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Landon Collins: 7 tackles, 1 INT
Eddie Jackson: 7 tackles, 3 pass breakups
A’Shawn Robinson: 7 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup
Dalvin Tomlinson: 7 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack
Geno Smith: 5 tackles
Cyrus Jones: 4 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 INT
DJ Pettway: 4 tackles
Rashaan Evans: 3 tackles
Jabriel Washington: 3 tackles
Dillon Lee: 3 tackles
Jonathan Allen: 3 tackles
Xzavier Dickson: 2 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries
Ryan Anderson: 2 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 2 quarterback hurries
Reuebn Foster: 1 tackle
Brandon Ivory: 1 tackle, 0.5 tackle for loss
Denzel Devall: 1 quarterback hurry
Tim Williams: 1 quarterback hurry

JK Scott: 7 punts, 45.6 yards per punt, 5 inside the 20 yard line
Adam Griffith: 1/2 FGs, 2/2 XPs
Christion Jones: 4 kickoff returns, 92 yards