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For the second year in a row, coming off a loss, Alabama will face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Last year after losing to Texas A&M, Alabama traveled to Mississippi State the following week and took out some frustration on the Bulldogs.
This week, after a disappointing loss to Tennessee, the No. 6 Crimson Tide would like to do the same as they welcome No. 24 Mississippi State.
Let’s review five things to look for this Saturday:
So far this season, Jahmyr Gibbs has been doing it all for the Crimson Tide. Early in the season, he was used more in the passing game, but over the past three weeks, he has been utilized much more in the running game. Gibbs has rushed for over 100 yards in each of Alabama’s last three games, and going up against a mediocre Mississippi State run defense, there is no reason not to believe that he will make it four straight.
It seems that the common theme this year for every Alabama game is the number of penalties that are called on them, and rightfully so. Alabama has been flagged the third-most in the nation, averaging just over nine penalties per game. The Crimson Tide have been flirting with disaster each and every week with these mistakes, and last Saturday it finally caught up to them, ending in a loss to Tennessee while achieving a school-record 17 flags.
Head coach Nick Saban hinted at holding guys accountable and possibly playing other guys if this isn’t corrected. It will be very interesting to see if the penalty problem is fixed or if players get replaced by backups.
So far this season, Alabama has done a decent job protecting the football, but this weekend they will need to be extra careful, facing a Mississippi State defense that leads the SEC with 14 forced turnovers this year. The Bulldogs have recorded nine interceptions with five of those from the nation’s leader in the category, Emmanuel Forbes.
Surprisingly, after a terrible showing last week against Tennessee, Alabama is still in the top 25 in passing yards allowed, giving up 197.6 yards per game. This week, the Crimson Tide secondary will have its hands full again facing Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers and Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense. Rogers leads the SEC with 2,313 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, and a 71.2 completion percentage. Crimson Tide defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry will need to continue his success and lock down his side of the field for Alabama to be successful Saturday.
After starting off the year hitting all of his first six field goal attempts, kicker Will Reichard has made just three of his last seven attempts. Saturday against Mississippi State, if given the opportunity, Reichard will look to gain some confidence back in the kicking game.
Kool-AId McKinstry has been fairly quiet in the return game the past couple of weeks, as teams have decided to kick it away from him and not give him a chance to make a play. McKinstry is due for some big plays in the return game to give Alabama good field position.
Coming off a tough loss that broke a long winning streak over Tennessee, Alabama will hope to bounce back and extend their 14-game win streak over Mississippi State to 15.
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