Mississippi State’s Report Card vs. Alabama


This was the toughest game of the year to grade for Mississippi State, but I’ll try to figure out an appropriate score for offense, defense, special teams and coaching….

Offense: C-

The offensive line gave up nine sacks, but are they fully at fault for MSU only scoring six points? Sure, that hurt really bad but they haven’t been very good against elite defensive lineman and Bama is stacked with them so it shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise. It kind of is what it is.

The fact is the Bulldogs out-gained the Tide for the second straight year and still lost. Even with nine sacks against them, MSU had 393 yards. The problem was getting inside the 10 yard line twice and only coming away with three points….score touchdowns there and you’ve got 17 points in the game….cut those 60+ yard touchdowns given up in half and it’s an overtime game.

Dak had 300 yards passing in the game. Take out the 55 yards lost in sacks and he ran for 69 yards. I thought he could’ve gotten the ball out a little sooner on some of those QB hurries but he did well enough to give the Dawgs a chance.

Defense: C

This one is a hard grade. Alabama had touchdowns of 60, 74 and 65 yards. Take those out and they only managed 180 yards the rest of the game….but obviously you can’t do that.

On all of those big plays there were some bad angles taken by the safeties. If you’re going to play in the box or helping on the outside instead of staying back in center-field than you have to take good angles when someone breaks loose so you contain the run to a 20 yard play instead of a 60 yard touchdown.

Alabama did what they do. They man up and force you to make really good plays time and time again. Then finally when you make a mistake you pay the price. That’s what happened.

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Special Teams: D

I won’t say ‘F’ because Westin Graves did make two field goals, but other than that it was pretty bad. Giving up the punt return for a TD was killer. State was grinding at 0-0 and to give up a non-offensive touchdown is something you just can’t do against the Tide and hope to win.

Brandon Holloway couldn’t get anything going on kickoff returns. I don’t think he got to the 20 yard line a single time.

Graves kicking a perfectly accurate 50 yard field goal that fell well short eased my regret about the LSU game a little.

Coaching: B-

Dan Mullen has never held a lead against Alabama. For that reason I wished he would have just kicked the field goal in the first quarter to get that bit of confidence….not that it mattered too much.

I didn’t like leaving the pass protection entirely up to the offensive line. Brandon Holloway was in the backfield most of the game and went on underneath routes. As I wrote during the week, I thought Ashton Shumpert should’ve been in there just to help block. Maybe Gus Walley too. Dak didn’t have enough time to go through more than three routes anyway, so no need for more than three wide outs on the field at once.

Manny Diaz did a great job. The touchdowns weren’t his fault, it was player execution.

Overall, I thought the coaches put the players in a good enough spot to win. Bama is just better and made bigger plays, especially when they counted the most.