Alabama Football: For the Crimson Tide and MSU it’s all about the quarterbacks


Alabama football and Mississippi State have very good defenses but Saturday’s matchup will be all about the opposing quarterbacks.

The Alabama football defense made big strides against LSU. So much so, the Crimson Tide defense is being reconsidered as another strength of the 2018 team. Mississippi State has a very good defense. So why isn’t Saturday’s game about which defense prevails? The answer is the quarterbacks, though more one QB than the other.

The skill-set of Tua Tagovailoa has done more than alter the DNA of Alabama football. Because of Tua, how every opposing defense must scheme against the Tide has flipped. The old “load the box” to shut down the Tide running game, forcing Alabama to throw is over. As in gone, vanished, dead and buried. No team in college football wants to encourage Alabama football to throw.

Opposing defenses have to choose one of two options, neither of which are very good. Commit five (or six) defenders to rushing Tua or drop seven (or even eight) into coverage. Tua and Alabama football appear capable of handling either approach. To beat Alabama football, an opposing defense must regularly get pressure on Tua with just four rushers. Not many teams are built to do that – Clemson, maybe Michigan. Mississippi State has to hope it is.


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The Bulldogs like to blitz. LSU with its talented secondary was able to blitz Tua often. The result was his stats were way off his season average in completion percentage and average yards per attempt. It didn’t influence the game’s outcome.

The Bulldogs do not have a secondary comparable to LSU. Tua’s accuracy could pick apart a blltz-heavy defense. Instead of defensive domination as a strategy, the Bulldogs will need to out-score the Crimson Tide. For most of this season, MSU has not looked capable of offensive explosions. The Bulldogs were overly dependent on running the football and inconsistent when forced to pass.

National college football expert Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report gets NFL scouts and college coaches to share anonymous insight with him. One scout believes Nick Fitzgerald has improved significantly over the last two games.

"He’s (Joe Morehead) putting Nick in position to make plays with throws that are makeable and progressions that are doable.You don’t go from completing 30 percent of your passes to 60 percent in one week, against two similar defenses (LSU, Texas A&M), without the guy coaching you making it easier on you."

Will an improved Nick Fitzgerald be enough to upset Alabama football? Not unless the Crimson Tide repeatedly does damage to itself. Which is no slam on Fitzgerald. Rather it is the new Alabama football reality, driven by the exceptional talents of Tua.

From another Matt Hayes story, enjoy this quote from an anonymous SEC coach,

"In the past, if you could stop the run, you had a chance. Now with (Tagovailoa) back there, shoot, they’re handing you’re the cigarette and asking you to pick which way to die."

Alabama football, even on the golden arm of Tua, may not soar gracefully past Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have some very good players. They play tough, physical football. They are catching the Crimson Tide on Saturday conducive to a lull in the Tide’s excellence. With all that, there remains the Tua factor and the fact he is better than Nick Fitzgerald.

Next. Why Tua is the Best-Ever. dark

While discussing QBs, Jake Fromm could light up Auburn on Saturday. Until recently, Fromm has not been good on third downs this season. The Florida and Kentucky games were indications that particular weakness is behind him.