Alabama Vs. MTSU: Inside The Stats

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In today’s edition, we look back on Saturday’s Alabama vs. MTSU game on what went wrong, what went right, and what it could mean for the Tide’s SEC opener next weekend in Tuscaloosa against Ole Miss.

Last week, I wrote in “Inside the Stats” that this week it would be nice to see some improvement all around or to at least continue at the same level the Tide played against Wisconsin. I think Jake Coker needed another solid outing for his confidence with the Rebels coming to town and I don’t know if he got that. He wasn’t awful, but I think he took a small step back from his game to open the season. Against the Blue Raiders, Coker was 15-26 for 214 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Those numbers take a dip when you really look into them. Al.com checked them out.

"Excluding screens and fly sweep touch passes, Coker was 11 of 22 for 122 yards with no touchdowns and an interception."

With the way the Rebels play defense, that’s one thing that’s more than likely not going to be there on Saturday. Coker will have to complete some down the field to keep Ole Miss honest to give open up the ground and pound part of the Tide’s offense. Ole Miss did give up 163 yards on the ground to Fresno State on Saturday.

As far as the running backs, all things there are still clicking like we all want. Derrick Henry barely missed the 100-yard mark with 96 for the day on 18 carries with three touchdowns. Freshman Damien Harris just trailed with Henry with 60 yards while Drake carried for 41 yards as part of a 132-yard all-purpose day with a touchdown reception through the air. Out of 26 receptions for the receivers, only three of those were over 19 yards. They’ve got to connect on some of these long passes sometimes.

If I had to say, the defense held their spot compared back to Wisconsin. Coach Saban and the staff wants to force three turnovers per game and yesterday, they had four. Those passes over the middle are still eating them up and with Ole Miss, that is definitely one thing they like to do. The young but talented secondary will have to grow fast over the next few days with the Rebels’ hot-handed quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. Against Fresno State, he completed 20 passes on 25 attempts for 346 yards and four touchdowns.

On the Tide’s field goal unit, I don’t know what to say. Adam Griffith missed two against MTSU to go with the ones from Wisconsin. He seems like a great kid but sadly, that doesn’t win ballgames and we may need those three points, possibly next weekend. Coach Saban said in the post game press conference that some changes may have to be made if things do not improve.

I am hoping this was just a case of looking forward, but I don’t really know. If I had to pick a winner, I would go with the Tide if only for the revenge factor. I know for a fact, the players have had this once circled for a while. Can the team make the necessary improvements and use the revenge factor to send the Rebels back to Oxford with a loss? I’m leaning yes and I hope I am right.