Alabama Football: Mississippi State Bulldogs Offensive Preview

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Alabama defense looks to bounce back from a woeful showing against Tennessee, in which it allowed 52 points en route to a Crimson Tide loss. Alabama Football will host Mississippi State in Bryant-Denny, and the Bulldogs boast a fairly prolific offense in their own right.

While Mississippi State has a good quarterback in Will Rogers and a dangerous passing attack, it brings a one-dimensional offense to Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs’ offense has shown flashes of proficiency but it hasn’t been able to find balance or consistency. State’s 427.6 yards of total offense per game and 35.4 points per game are middle-of-the-pack FBS numbers. Still, Mike Leach’s offense ranks in the top-10 nationally in every major passing statistic.

Will Rogers makes this unit go, and he is playing with improved efficiency as a junior. Rogers leads the nation with 228 completions, and has thrown for 2,324 yards and 23 touchdowns in seven games. He is a high-IQ player that runs Leach’s Air Raid system very well.

Alabama Football: Will State try to run?

Mississippi State is known for its absence of a running game. It returns Dillon Johnson and Jo’quavious Marks, its two leading rushers from 2021. Although the running game still doesn’t offer a lot of statistical production, these two backs have been more efficient this season.

Dillon Johnson leads the team with 407 yards (6.0 YPC), and has scored three rushing touchdowns. Jo’quavious Marks has run for 259 yards (4.5 YPC) and a team-high five touchdowns. Both of these backs are also heavily involved in the passing game, each recording at least 30 receptions for over 200 yards. To put their high usage rate and MSU’s Air Raid approach into perspective, either of these running backs would lead Alabama in receptions.

Alabama Football: A lot of targets to cover

Among the receivers, Caleb Ducking, Rara Thomas, Rufus Harvey, and Lideatrick Griffin have all posted respectable numbers.

Ducking is a big target at 6’5” and leads the Bulldogs with 33 catches that have gone for 354 yards. He also has a team-high seven receiving touchdowns. Rara Thomas has just 22 receptions, but leads the team with 383 yards. Thomas has been the big-play threat in an otherwise dink-and-dunk offense, averaging 17.4 yards per reception.

Rufus Harvey has made 28 grabs for 276 yards and two scores, and Lideatrick Griffin has 21 catches for 249 yards and one touchdown. Austin Williams, Jaden Walley, Justin Robinson, and Jamire Calvin all have at least 10 catches and at least one receiving touchdown. It goes without saying that Will Rogers spreads the ball around as well as anybody in the country.

Can Alabama Football shut down this erratic offense?

Mississippi State’s offense has suffered from bouts of inconsistency this season. Its seven-game body of work has resulted in five games of high-octane production with two outlier games of subpar production in the Bulldogs’ losses.

In its five wins, State has averaged 495.8 yards per game with a low of 426 yards, and averaged 43.0 points per game with a low of 39 points. However, in its two losses, Mississippi State fell well below 300 yards of offensive production and scored just 16 and 17 points.

In their two most recent games, Mississippi State posted a season-high 568 yards of offense at home against Arkansas, but followed that performance up with a season-low 225 yards at Kentucky.

Next. Playoff path clear for Alabama. dark

The defense for Alabama football is hoping to replicate the latter showing and get back on track this week in Tuscaloosa. Assignment football and sure tackling will benefit the Tide.