Where Smart Picks Go to Die
Heading into the Mississippi State game, all the pundits were saying things like “This will be Alabama‘s first real test” or “We’ll know who the real Alabama is after tonight”. If that’s the case, then the real Alabama is the Alabama we’ve seen play everyone else all year.
Alabama looked dominate again in a 38-7 victory over the bulldogs (the 7 points came in garbage time against a lot of reserves). Alabama’s defense won the day again allowing only 38 yards on 15 carries to LaDarius Perkins (the SEC leader in rushing) and 1 catch for 7 yards to Chad Bumphis. State did threaten to score on Alabama early, but a blocked field goal by Dee Milliner and a Robert Lester interception made both of those drives meaningless.
On offense, Alabama was incredibly balanced once again throwing for 235 and rushing for 179. Yeldon led the rushing attack with 10 carries for 84 yards and 1 touchdown. A.J. McCarron was efficient and on point again going 16/23 with 208 yards and 2 touchdowns.
As good as Alabama looked, they still had a few unsettling moments during the game. At least 3 times, Alabama blew their coverage and left Mississippi State receivers wide open. This resulted in 1 big play and 2 missed opportunities for the bulldogs. These mental lapses could be the signs that while the young secondary for Alabama is immensely talented, they are not immune from the mistakes that come with lack of experience.
The kicking game was again a sore spot as the Tide gave up kickoff returns of 33, 37, and 39 yards. Two of those returns could have broken for touchdowns with one more key block. Again, this could be of concern in a close game. This poor kickoff coverage could result in good field position or points against a team with elite speed.
Maybe the biggest unknown this year is how A.J. McCarron handles pressure. The only team to get any real pressure on McCarron was Western Kentucky who got 6 sacks on the day. The O-Line for Alabama has given McCarron all day to throw, but with talented defensive lines in the remaining schedule (LSU, Auburn’s has under-performed, Georgia’s line and linebackers) it will be interesting to see what type of QB McCarron is when he has to make quicker decisions.
The biggest matchup of Alabama’s season comes this Saturday with a trip to Baton Rouge. LSU is a different team at night, but if Alabama continues to play the way they’ve played all year, we could still hear the phrase “untested” thrown around until the SEC championship game.