What We Learned: Alabama vs Mississippi State:

Alabama defensive back Eli Ricks (7) makes a tackle against Mississippi State at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Oct 22, 2022.

In their first game since last week’s heart breaking defeat in Knoxville, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 30-6 in Bryant-Denny Stadium. It wasn’t the prettiest of Alabama performances, but solid nonetheless and a nice way to answer the bell after losing for the first time since the National Championship. As always, we’ll start with the good:

Turns out, Eli Ricks is really good:

After some drama this week in which he apparently removed Alabama related posts from his social media, the LSU transfer was a surprise start for the Crimson Tide on Saturday and performed at an extremely high level. He was targeted 10 times throughout the game and allowed just one catch for 19 yards. He also had four pass breakups. According to Tony Tsoukalas, Mississippi State recorded a 39.6 passer rating when targeting Ricks, the same rating they would have if they had spiked the ball every time.

The entire defense steps up:

In addition to Ricks, Kool-Aid McKinstry had a really nice night as well, building on his game at Tennessee by allowing seven receptions on 16 targets with four pass breakups as well. DeMarcco Hellams had a bounce back game after a tough go of it last week where he was forced to play a lot of corner due to the scheme Tennessee ran. Alabama also had four sacks as a team and Will Anderson seemed to play a big role in the pass rush. This is the kind of defense they need to play if they want to contend for a title.

Bryce Young is brilliant, but needs to buy time for receivers:

The touchdown to JoJo Earle early in the game is a perfect example. Alabama’s receivers were struggling to create separation early in the play, Bryce Young has to buy a ridiculous amount of time, direct traffic, point Earle exactly where to go, and eventually hit him for the open score because it’s simply impossible for the Bulldogs corners to cover for that long. This indicates to me that Tennessee’s defense is worse than we thought and Alabama still has some issues creating separation. Here is the play I’m referring to:

Ja’Corey Brooks is the best receiver on the team:

The team’s leading receiver and most reliable by far in my opinion with 376 yards (Jahmyr Gibbs has the most receptions with 31, shocking) is Ja’Corey Brooks. He needs to be schemed for by O’Brien and the offensive staff and targeted more by Young. If there’s one player on this offense right now where I feel good when the ball goes to him that he will catch it, it’s Brooks. He’s not what Alabama has had in terms of a WR1, but he is extremely talented and should be utilized as such.



Overall assessment:

There was certainly some improvement on defense, especially on the back end. However, it did seem like Alabama took a step back on offense this week after Bryce Young’s best game of his career last week. Heading into the bye week, there are things to improve on both sides of the ball. I believe, however, that this team is more than capable of going on the road the following two weeks and handling LSU and Ole Miss and locking up the SEC West. They must handle their business on the road to Atlanta and get there with one loss if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.