13 November 2009
I’ll be mainly watching our passing game and their running game.
Despite some mid-season passing struggles, the Alabama brain trust has stuck with a balanced offensive style instead of going to a more run-heavy offense as many fans seem to want. They’ve done this even in games where it appeared the Tide might’ve had an easier win by administering a heavier dose of Mark Ingram (1148 yards, 6.6 YPC, 11 TDs) and Trent Richardson (404 yards, 5.1 YPC, 4 TDs).
From my way of thinking, the staff has done this to insure that Florida and Texas (and yes, they’re planning to win, not to lose, so Texas is in the plans, I guarantee you that) will have to at least prepare for a two-dimensional attack, even if we wind up crossing them up with a wildcat-heavy game plan. Also from my way of thinking, the strategy has worked out, as the passing game has shown marked improvement over the last couple of games.
If I’m right, then the Tide should have no trouble moving it in the air against the Bulldogs’ 9th-in-the-SEC pass defense. If Greg McElroy (132.6 rating, 59.3% cmplt, 7.3 YPA, 1.8% intcps) struggles tomorrow, then I’m probably wrong and perhaps the offensive map for the end of the season needs to be re-drawn.
Either way, the Tide’s reliable running game should function normally against State’s run D, also 9th in the conference – even though the fact that State is 9th says more about SEC run Ds than about State, which gives up only 3.9 yards per carry.
Last week, LSU’s Charles Scott did a great job of slipping through creases to get yardage up the middle against the Tide, an area where few teams have succeeded in the Terrence Cody era. Can Anthony Dixon (1001 yards, 5.5 YPC, 9 TDs) replicate the feat? If Bama shuts Dixon down, it might be a long day for the home team.
That’s because Mississippi State’s passing attack is, frankly, not good. Tyson Lee is the “passing QB,” but his passing efficiency is a woeful 111.1. Combined, Lee and Chris Relf have thrown 13 picks in only 215 attempts, a horrendous stat that doesn’t figure to improve against the nation’s third-rated pass efficiency D.
Finally, the Bulldogs’ opponents have scored 18 TDs in 33 red zone trips, a 55% clip, while Alabama has only punched in 16 in 40 tries. It sure would be nice to see the Tide start getting well in the red zone. If that happens, this team might take a clean bill of football health into the stretch run.
I have the flu, so I’ll keep this short this week in favor of going back to bed. But as a take-away, just remember this: Mississippi State is a real 9th-place type of team. They’re definitely not the worst team in the SEC, but they are 9th in the conference in pass efficiency D, run D, passing, scoring, and scoring D. Only their 3rd-rated rushing attack has had relative success. Alabama, on the other hand, is not as low as 9th in any of those areas, and even in rushing clocks in right behind State at 4th.
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