After an insanely entertaining second half, including a safety, a spike being ruled as intentional grounding, and a dual possession catch for an Alabama-game winning touchdown, the better state came away with an exhilarating 36-30 victory. Mississippi benefitted from spectacular and superior quarterback play, but Alabama's running game, behind star guard Lester Cotton, far outshined that of that state to the west.
The Crimson Tide had quite a few commitments playing in this game, and a couple of other targets were there too.
Lester Cotton was probably the biggest name in this game, and the nation's number one guard delivered. He was named team captain for the Alabama squad, and started at left guard the entire game. His first couple of drives were not that great, as he struggled to back pedal and got his quarterback in trouble on more than one occasion. After that though, Cotton settled down and destroyed the souls of pretty much anyone that tried to rush against him. He had two highlight worthy pancakes and drove a linebacker out the back of the tv screen on more than one occasion. Cotton looks great as a pulling guard, and is absolutely nasty in the second level.
Brandon Kennedy, on the other hand, did not have as stellar of a game. He has great feet, and looked good as a pass blocker, but struggled to move the defensive tackle anywhere on a lot of running plays. The biggest issue, however, was his snapping. Kennedy converted to center earlier this year, so he does have a little leeway, but he struggled with badly placed snaps all game, including one that caused a negative 15 yard safety.
DeSherrius Flowers was on the Alabama squad, but for whatever reason barely got any playing time. Auburn commit Kerryon Johnson had the hot hand, and was a monster at running back all day, which definitely could have kept some carries away from Flowers. On his first carry of the game (which didn't come until the second half), Flowers showed great vision and patience before bursting through the line behind a pulling Cotton, and then trucking someone in the second level on the way to an 11 yard pick up. Flowers only got four more carries if I remember right. He was also used quite a bit as blocker.
Christian Bell of Hoover was talked about quite often by the announcers, who mentioned that Bell had been a three year started for the Alabama powerhouse program. Bell flashed an elite quickness and first step occasionally, but constantly struggled with making decisions at a game speed. He hesitated on almost every play, and was consistently the third player in on every tackle. He also needs to put on some weight, as he was easily re-routed by larger offensive tackles. Overall, he mostly disappointed me.
Anfernee Jennings, on the other hand, had an impressive performance. He mostly played as a 5-technique defensive end in the vanilla 3-4 defense, but still manage to rack up two or three tackles for loss while operating in a two-gapping role. He cleaned up a quarterback scramble and stuffed and huge 3rd and one.
Keaton Anderson (here's CB's thoughts on him from back in May) was by far my favorite player of the game. Playing as an outside linebacker, Anderson played the entire game with his long, flowing hair on fire. Anderson seemed to be involved in just about every tackle on all parts of the field. He is so fast, I don't even have a good adjective for it. But that speed really stands out. I saw him blitz from the right side on a sweep to the left, and chased the running back down before he made ten yards. Anderson also absolutely destroyed a guy on a punt return. He has a slight frame, and many expect him to move to more of a safety role. Either way, he's going to be an exciting player.
Keith Mixon, a Mississippi State commit, is a tremendous (and tiny) slot receiver that has been to Bryant-Denny for a couple of visits this year. He really flashed during the game today, making some awesome downfield catches, and looking even better with the ball in his hands and as a returner.
The state of Alabama's number one player, defensive tackle Daron Payne, started the game disrupting everything Mississippi did and living in the backfield. However, after about three drives, Payne disappeared the rest of the half. Then he punched a guy after the last play of the first half and was kicked out of the rest of the game. Payne is considered by many to be a favorite to commit to the Tide.
Its amazing how the Alabama all-star game has less Crimson Tide commits participating in it than the national All-American games will. That's an impressive testament to the national scope of Nick Saban's recruiting.