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Initial Impressions from the Mississippi State Game

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Alabama destroyed the undermanned Bulldogs, 51-3.

Mississippi State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the game against the annual FCS opponent in the books, the Tide can now look to close out the season and bring home another SEC title.

Wait, the Chattanooga game is next week? Who knew?

That was about as dominant a performance against another SEC school as you will ever see. The defense led the way once again, this time holding the Bulldogs to a very empty 274 total yards that netted only three points. Give QB Nick Fitzgerald credit for hanging in as he was pummeled with regularity. On the day, he was sacked three times and had eight hurries and seven batted balls while putting up only 145 yards on 33 attempts. Mississippi State simply had no answers for the Alabama front.

It’s hard to draw much from a game as uncompetitive as this one, but it was clear that the Tide was trying to work on the downfield passing game. With Bo Scarbrough resting, Joshua Jacobs and Damien Harris carried the ball a total of twelve times. Hurts definitely showed a bit more in the passing department this week. It was particularly encouraging that he was able to find ArDarius Stewart on time over the middle a few times, including one gorgeous TD pass. We’ve been saying this all season, but if the passing game starts to click well enough that Hurts can consistently throw the ball behind cheating linebackers and box safeties, there will be no more answers for Alabama’s opponents.

Hurts had a Heisman-esque day overall as he competed 28/47 for 347 yards, rushed for another 100, and put up five total TDs. Stewart was the target du jour, hauling in 8/156/3. Hurts did have a couple of freshman moments again, first throwing a bad first-half interception on a post route to Calvin Ridley that was late and underthrown, a cardinal sin for passes between the hash marks, then failing to properly protect the ball on a second half fumble. One still has to wonder if these types of mistakes could derail the Tide as the competition gets more difficult. Still, when you put up the type of numbers that Jalen did, it’s hard to quibble with a couple of turnovers.

Anthony Averett had himself a day in this one. Fitzgerald tried to pick on him several times to no avail. He is a perfect example of a player coming to Tuscaloosa, paying his dues as he learns from the best, then making a name for himself later in his career. Tony Brown also made several nice plays. Interestingly, Marlon Humphrey was seen lining up at safety on a few occasions. Not sure if that was simply due to a matchup issue or if it is an experiment that might carry over into future games. With the way Brown and Averett played in man, I could see Minkah and Marlon sometimes splitting the field as ball-hawks in the base defense.

Thankfully, Adam Griffith had a perfect day. Last season he hit his stride down the stretch and became one of the most reliable kickers in the nation. More of that please, Adam. JK Scott was his usual self, and there were no major gaffes in the return game. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, both coaches had emptied the benches.

That’s really about it. Mississippi State is either much worse than their record would suggest or they came in flat after too much celebrating of last week’s upset of the Aggies. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

In any event, this one was much easier than anticipated. The Tide was never threatened and apparently had no major injuries. Not much else you can ask for.

The Tide will enjoy one more tasty cupcake next weekend before an Iron Bowl matchup that may well be for the SEC West, pending Auburn’s result in Athens today. Hopefully they will be able to work out the minor kinks and avoid any major injuries until then.

Roll Tide.