Crimson Conclusions: Alabama vs. Mississippi State


Alabama vs. Mississippi State ended with the Tide coming out on top and seemingly in the driver’s seat for a trip to Atlanta in December.

On Saturday, the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1) defeated the twentieth ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-3) 31-6 on the road despite an inconsistent day in all facets of the game. The two things that were very consistent all night was Derrick Henry and the Alabama pass rush. Henry ran for his second straight 200-yard game and the defense recorded a staggering nine sacks on Dak Prescott. Alabama was also driven by huge plays scoring on plays of more than 50-yards four times in the game.

Defense Harasses Dak Prescott
The Alabama defense set out to put pressure on Dak Prescott and make life difficult for him and that was extremely evident On the very first play of the game, A’Shawn Robinson manhandled the blocker in front of him and sacked Prescott. Dak would be sacked an incredible nine more times in the game and was very rarely given time to make plays in the pocket. Dak was knocked down several other times and constantly had someone in his face all night long.

Jonathan Allen was absolutely incredible in the game recording three sacks, forcing a fumble, and recording another quarterback hurry. A’Shawn Robinson added 2.5 sacks, Ryan Anderson recorded two, and Tim Williams had 1.5 sacks. Dak also struggled to gain any ground with his legs, usually an advantage for he and MSU defense, as he ran for just 17 yards on 26 carries. As a team, the Bulldogs could manage only 89 yards total rushing on 42 attempts for an average of 2.1 yards per carry.

Henry Continues Monster Season
Derrick Henry ran for more than 200 yards for the third time this season and for the second consecutive week. He started the game VERY quiet as it seemed Lane Kiffin’s gameplan was to stay away from the heart of the MSU defense, the center of the defense, and attack the edges. That plan failed miserably in the game resulting in four three-and-outs and an interception in the Tide’s first five possessions.

Kiffin then started to feed Henry and he began to gash the Bulldog defense. He broke off a 74-yard TD run in the second quarter and a dazzling 65-yard TD run in the fourth quarter on a play in which it seemed the defensive back easily had the angle on the much bigger Henry. Henry simply stiff armed the defender and continued on into the end zone in a backbreaking play. Alabama has continued to ride Henry as the season has progressed and it seems as if he is only getting stronger despite a heavy workload, and the offensive line looks to be gelling together.

Big Plays Propel Tide Despite Inconsistencies
Alabama was very inconsistent to start the game truly struggling on offense and also allowing Dak Prescott to hit several plays down the field despite getting continuous pressure on the quarterback. JK Scott also had a very inconsistent day in the game, struggling early and bouncing back later on in the game. Adam Griffith converted his first field goal but then his second was blocked. Hopefully, the block won’t creep into his mind and mess with his head as misses have done in the past.

Jake Coker played pretty well in the game but faced a ton of pressure early in the game, and made a massive bonehead throw which was intercepted in the first quarter. Thankfully that was one of his few mistakes in the game and he managed to settle down and led the offense to a much more consistent and effective second half. He was also banged up, his right shoulder, during the game. Despite all of the inconsistencies, the Tide managed to take advantage of a slew of big plays throughout the day.

Nov 14, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones (5) returns a punt that would result in a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Cyrus Jones started things off with a beautiful 69-yard punt return TD, his first punt return TD of his career, and then Calvin Ridley turned a short gain into a 60-yard score. Just a few minutes later Henry gashed the Bulldog defense for a 74-yard TD. Marlon Humphrey made a big interception as Dak attempted a deep pass in the fourth quarter, Dak’s only second interception of the entire season, and Henry outran the MSU defense for a 65-yard TD to finish off the scoring. The big plays were unquestionably the biggest factor in the win, along with the sacks, for Alabama.

Drake Hurt
The biggest negative that Alabama will take away from this game is the injury to Kenyan Drake. For the second straight season, it seems as if Drake’s year will come to a premature conclusion due to a broken bone. Just a couple of minutes after making a beautiful block on Ridley’s touchdown, Drake made a tackle on the ensuing kickoff. His forearm banged the knee of MSU returner Brandon Holloway resulting in a broken arm which Nick Saban confirmed after halftime.

It would seem very unlikely that Drake could return from such an injury which would also mean it is the end of his Alabama career as the running back is a senior. There is a chance that Drake COULD make a return by the bowl game, but that might be a longshot and a risky one at that if he does. It is a heartbreaking end to Drake’s senior season, if his season is in fact over, as he really struggled early in the year and seemed to be coming into his own as the injury took place. Hopefully, Drake will once again make a full recovery and get a shot in the NFL which he most certainly deserves.

Jake Coker: 15-25, 144 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 1 carry, 6 yards

Derrick Henry: 22 carries, 204 yards, 2 TD; 1 catch, 0 yards
Bo Scarbrough: 2 carries, 10 yards
ArDarius Stewart: 1 carry, 8 yards
Damien Harris: 4 carries, 7 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards

Calvin Ridley: 5 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD
ArDarius Stewart: 4 catches, 32 yards
OJ Howard: 1 catch, 15 yards
Kenyan Drake: 2 catches, 13 yards
Richard Mullaney: 1 catch, 3 yards

Reuben Foster: 10 TKL, 2 PBU, 2 QBH
Reggie Ragland: 8 TKL, 1 PBU
Jonathan Allen: 7 TKL, 3.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 QBH
Eddie Jackson: 7 TKL
Minkah Fitzpatrick: 6 TKL
Geno Matias-Smith: 6 TKL
A’Shawn Robinson: 5 TKL, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks
Ryan Anderson: 5 TKL, 2.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 QBH
Tim Williams: 5 TKL, 2.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks
Dalvin Tomlinson: 5 TKL
Cyrus Jones: 4 TKL, 2 PBU
Marlon Humphrey: 3 TKL, 1 INT, 29 yards
Jabriel Washington: 3 TKL
Da’Shawn Hand: 3 TKL, 1.5 TFL
Daron Payne: 3 TKL, 1 FF
Bradley Sylve: 2 TKL
Tony Brown: 2 TKL, 2 PBU
Denzel Devall: 1 TKL, 1.0 TFL
Shaun Dion Hamilton: 1 TKL
Cole Mazza: 1 TKL
Adonis Thomas: 1 TKL
Shawn Burgess-Becker: 1 TKL
Keith Holcombe: 1 TKL
Ronnie Harrison: 1 TKL
Jarran Reed: 1 TKL
Rashaan Evans: 1 TKL

Next: Lane Kiffin Delivers Stiff Arm On Sideline As Derrick Henry Scores

Adam Griffith: 1/2 FGs, 4/4 XPs
JK Scott: 5 punts, 40.6 YPP, Long: 47 yards
Cyrus Jones: 1 PR, 69 yards, 1 TD