What takeaways are there from Mississippi State football’s defense against Alabama?
Just like I said with the offense, it’s hard to feel any better about the direction of Mississippi State’s defense after this game. Sure, they had some highlights. But overall, it was more of the same from what’s been a bad unit thus far in 2023.
And even though this was Alabama, State is going to face better offenses the rest of the way. Jalen Milroe’s limitations as a passer and Bama’s OL not being great up front prevented this from being another complete meltdown defensively. They’ve got to find some sort of a solution soon if this team is going to have any chance at making a bowl.
As this article from The Athletic shows, Mississippi State has been one of the nation’s worst at getting stops and preventing points.
I’ve been banging the drum for more of a regular “Rush 3, Drop 8” approach, but with as poor as this team seems to be at tackling in open space and the fact that they’re getting too easily pushed around up front in the run game, I’m starting to rethink that suggestion. There are still some benefits to that style, but I’m not sure this unit would consistently handle the duties necessary to run it.
It appears Zach Arnett and DC Matt Brock are trying to make some adjustments. It was announced that Donterry Russell, after an excellent coming out party, is going to start at SAM LB this week. The SAM position is one that has been heavily debated since the offseason. State has had three LBs compete to takeover the spot, and none have performed well enough for that.
Arnett suggested on numerous occasions they might play a four-down front this year if they felt the SAM wasn’t providing enough of a pass rush. This is the closest they’ve come to actually showing that in a game, as Russell is a lineman. Although, at just 220 pounds, it’s not like we’re looking at someone with a traditional lineman build.
I’ll be interested to see what roles he’s used in. I imagine he’ll almost exclusively act as a pass rush specialist with occasional QB spy duties. Those are two areas State has struggled, and with what he showed in the Bama game, he could thrive in them.
Will it solve anything for the defense? That we do not know. But at this point, you have to give it a shot.