Game analysis: No. 1 Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Nov 16, 2013 | 1805 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama running back T. J. Yeldon (4) runs over the top of Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama running back T. J. Yeldon (4) runs over the top of Mississippi State linebacker Beniquez Brown. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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Offense

Alabama’s offensive line struggled for much of the contest. At the start, the linemen couldn’t create holes for the running backs and allowed quarterback AJ McCarron to get pressured.

The line also gave up an early sack. Alabama also had a few uncharacteristic turnovers with McCarron throwing a couple of interceptions and T.J. Yeldon fumbling.

The Tide showed flashes of its brilliant attack with a few big runs by Yeldon and some long passes from McCarron to his many quality weapons.

Defense

Alabama had problems stopping the Bulldogs from moving the ball.

The Tide went with a bend-but-don’t-break gameplan as the Bulldogs drove the ball downfield, but failed to score. The Bulldogs’ first touchdown came when quarterback Tyler Russell fumbled, and the ball was recovered in the middle of a scrum in the end zone.

Other than that fluke play, the Bulldogs offense couldn’t get any points on the board when it mattered most. Alabama’s secondary is still giving up plays. It has been the unit’s weakest link all season, and the Tide coaching staff doesn’t appear to have an answer to fix the problem.

Special teams

Once again, Alabama’s special teams was the best unit on the field. Place-kicker Cade Foster nailed a pair of field goal attempts.

Punter Cody Mandell continued to make his claim as one of the best in the country with 50- and 60-yard bombs. The coverage units also never allowed the Bulldogs to get in good field position.

Coaching

Even though Nick Saban warned against the “relief syndrome,” the Tide’s players still weren’t able to get up for their trip to Starkville.

Alabama came out flat with its four of its first five possessions ending with a punt. Mississippi State deserves some credit for playing hard, but Alabama playing at its best is at least three or four touchdowns better than the Bulldogs.

Saban and his staff will have an even tougher task next week when Chattanooga travels to Tuscaloosa.

Overall

This game was about what many expected — an ugly Alabama win.

The Tide is just more talented than Mississippi State. So, even when though it brought only its D-game, the scoreboard showed a big victory. Alabama has two weeks to get ready for what will be an epic Iron Bowl showdown. The Tide will have to play its best football if it hopes to remain undefeated through the regular season.
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