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Stock up/Stock down: Which Alabama players stood out in a win over Mississippi State?

For better and for worse, these plays caught my eye

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

With the Tide defense very nearly pitching a shutout until giving up a meaningless TD in the last second, there was obviously a whole lot of good to choose from on that side of the ball... Which is definitely a pleasant turnaround from their disaster the week before.

On the other hand, the Tide’s offense sputtered all game long. They hit enough big plays early on to get a comfy score, but overall lacked and sustained success through the air or the ground.

Here are some plays that, for better or for worse, stuck out to me:

Stock Up

It’s 3rd and 10 early in the 2nd quarter, and Mississippi State had just driven down the field almost the the redzone and was threatening to tie the game up. Brian Branch is lined up as a linebacker in the dime and is set up to the inside to prevent the quick slant. His man, though, runs to the first down line and cuts out for a deep out route, and Will Rogers tries to hit him near the sidelines.

Branch, though, basically reads the route and breaks outside as soon as he saw the WR starting to turn that way. He turns on the jets and then makes a crazy athletic one-handed deflection. The Bulldogs wound up missing the field goal, giving Alabama a chance to stay in the lead and build on their score.

Stock Down

I lost the normal broadcast angle for this play, so have to stick with the slow-mo replay. Alabama is backed up in their own endzone and trying to move the ball out. The play here has Jahmyr Gibbs taking a dump off over the middle to pick up about 7 yards or so. It wound up being reviewed for targeting (it wasn’t) because Gibbs took such a hard hit.

However, my issue here is that Gibbs bobbled the catch. He makes that catch cleanly, and he has time and an extra yard of space to make a move to either avoid that linebacker or at least slip away from taking such a devastating hit.

And hey, it happens. What worries me is that this is two weeks in a row that Gibbs dropped that catch in the exact same place.

Stock Up

This was a highlight play of the game, and I usually try to avoid these, since the broadcast and everyone else talked about it a lot at the time. This was one of the only good rushing plays of the day for Alabama, and it was a beauty.

The announcers talked a lot about Emil Ekiyor and Darrian Dalcourt making key blocks. Freshman Tyler Booker also drove a dude down the field to prevent any backside pursuit.

What I really wanted to point out, though, was Kobe Prentice. The freshman WR fired off the line and blocked a graduate senior safety in Jalen Green down field a couple of yards, fended off Green’s attempt at a swim, and turned him away from the hole for Gibbs to sprint through.

And then on top of it all, Prentice cleanly released the block as Green spun backwards away from him - which was a veteran move that often draws useless holding calls.

just phenomenal blocking from the freshman receiver, and that’s the kind of thing that explains how Prentice has gotten so much playing time as a freshman.

Stock Down

This was FAR from Bryce Young’s best game. He just didn’t look to be in sync with his receivers all game long. This one right before the half really stood out to me when the broadcast gave us a different angle.

Young scrambled around for nearly 10 seconds before throwing the ball away. At first glance, you might think everyone was covered. However, Jermaine Burton did an inside comeback that should have been an easy strike for 10 yards or so before Young ever started his scramble. Burton tried to roll right with Young once he started moving right, and that ran him into another defender.

After the scramble started, Kobe Prentice had initially went to the flat, but then turned on the jets down the sideline, gaining a couple of steps one the one defender isolated with him on the right side. Had Young been looking his way instead of turning around and running backwards, it could have been a touchdown.

Stock Up

Check out Robbie Ouzts as the punt protector here. The Bulldogs went all out trying to cross up blockers with some pre-snap trickery from their rushers before having them jump different gaps. Tyler Steen missed the guy he wanted to block, but Robbie Ouzts was ready. The TE quickly diagnosed that the outside guy wasn’t actually rushing, and sprinted across the formation to make a powerful block on the free rusher. Just a split second slower or less decisive, and that punt gets blocked.