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Alabama Football 2015: Previewing the Mississippi State Offense

The Bulldogs are a lot scarier than they've been given credit for this season...

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Does it really count as a trap game if everyone and their mothers know that it's going to be a trap game?

Under Dan Mullen, the Bulldogs continue to run that old Urban Meyer/Tim Tebow-influenced offense that mixes spread passing concepts with power running and a big, mobile quarterback. Despite Miss State not possessing the talent that those Florida teams had, the scheme itself is one that I personally am a huge fan of, and could potentially cause the Alabama defense fits with Heisman contending QB Dak Prescott at the helm.

This offense will go as Prescott goes. The senior has shown flashes of considerable talent at times over the past two years, but has really pulled that into a consistent and explosive performance this season, and deserves a lot more media attention than he's been given so far this season. Prescott has completed 67% of his passes for 2351 yards on a respectable 7.84 yards per attempt. Even more impressively, he has thrown 18 touchdowns to only one interception. ONE. Prescott has been both ruthlessly efficient and dangerously explosive, and also leads his team with 418 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. However, one interesting note its that his performance has, on average, declined in each quarter of the game. Some of that can be attributed to more conservative game planning in the 4th quarter of blowout wins, but is still an interesting note nonetheless.

Prescott has two dynamic receivers at his disposal that are both severely underrated by the common media. Junior Fred Ross is a slippery and physical slot receiver that leads the team with 51 receptions, and is second on the team with 548 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ross is a dependable target across the middle and on shorter routes, as evidenced by his fairly low 10.7 yards per reception on the season.

On the other hand, at 6'5", De'Runnya Wilson is one of the best big play/red zone threats in the nation. The junior leads the team with 626 yards and a staggering 8 receiving touchdowns, and is averaging an impressive 17 yards per reception. Wilson has caught a total of 7 balls from within the opponent's red zone, and has scored touchdowns on 5 of them. He is also Dak Prescott's preferred go-to man on third down, and Wilson is averaging a ridiculous 23 yards per reception on third downs.

Behind these two, junior Fred Brown and sophomore Donald Gray have 313 and 269 yards on the season, respectively, and both are tied with Ross with two touchdowns apiece.

At running back, Dan Mullen has struggled to find a true lead back. Junior Ashton Shumpert leads the team with 50 carries (much to the ire of the fans), and has rewarded the team with a putrid 3.5 yards per carry. Junior Brandon Holloway leads the team with 22 yards, but the 160 pound diminutive scat back is not big enough to withstand a full time role at running back, and is mainly used as a change of pace guy. True freshman Aeris Williams has shown real flashes of talent, but has struggled to get significant playing time due to weaknesses in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield. The 230 pound freshman, Dontavian Lee, has also looked promising in limited action, putting up 6.4 yards per carry, but has only been given 21 attempts so far.

The Bulldog offensive line has been inconstant this season, and are working to recover from injuries to two different starters in last week's game against Missouri. Many fans have pointed out that Prescott has been under a lot of pressure this season, and that the line seems to have lost its nasty attitude in the run game that they have seen in years past.

As mentioned at the top, this team will go as Dak Prescott goes. The senior QB is the lifeblood of this team, and is the exact type of player that Alabama has often struggled with in the past: a mobile quarterback with big and talented receivers on the outside and a slippery slot man. Mississippi State won't be determined to futilely attack the Bama defense with runs up the middle, and will try to attack Cyrus Jones and Marlon Humphrey on the perimeter. This will be one of the biggest tests on the Bama defense so far this season, despite what the national media things of the Bulldogs.