Kevin C. Cox
Will the experienced MSU secondary be able to take advantage of the chances the improving Bama passing game gives them?
Alabama is the best team in the country. They are the defending National Champions. They are undefeated. I know no one needs for me to list the accomplishments of Alabama under Nick Saban. I know no one wants to hear me praise the Crimson Tide. And while most analysts out there will tell you how invincible they are, I'm here to tell you, they can be beat.
As much as people hate to hear it, Ole Miss played Alabama well. Ole Miss led, albeit briefly. The Rebels were a few plays (a big kickoff return) from making that game as close on the scoreboard as it was on the field. I say all of this to say, while I watched that game I thought to myself this Alabama team is beatable. There is something different about this Alabama team.
I could tell you about how Alabama has not scored less that 33 points this season and have only scored less than 40 in a game twice this season. I could tell you how they haven't given up more than 14 points in a game this season. I could tell you that AJ McCarron hasn't thrown a pick this season. I could also tell you that the last player to pick McCarron off was Cameron Lawrence. I could tell you all the stats, but this game isn't about that. This game is about how prepared MSU is and how hard they will play.
This Alabama team lacks the emotional leaders. Alabama has talent this year, of that I'm sure, but there is no Rolando McClain, there's no Donta Hightower, and there's no Trent Richardson. Sure they have Amari Cooper, Dee Miliner, CJ Mosley, and Eddie Lacy. But there is no player on this team that you look to as the heart and soul and passionate leader. What I'm trying to say is that if a team comes in and plays hard and shows they are not backing down and will fight for 60 minutes, this Alabama team can be beat. Ole Miss proved that.
Another difference for this Alabama team is the offensive playmakers. This Alabama team makes headlines on offense. It has been a while since the household names on Alabama's roster have been on the offensive side of the ball. Alabama has a lot of playmakers on offense, as well as in the return game with Christion Jones.
At receiver, the Tide feature freshman Amari Cooper who is becoming a star, as well as Kevin Norwood a senior from Mississippi, and Kenny Bell. At running back, they play Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon. Both backs have the ability to take the ball to pay dirt each time they touch it. They also use their tight end, Michael Williams in the passing game, as he is a big body and a miss-match for linebackers in the middle of the field. The signal caller, AJ McCarron has been nothing but reliable for the Tide this season. This Alabama offense has big play potential and they are very efficient. They simply don't turn the ball over.
On defense, the Tide have playmakers each level. The secondary is stingy with Dee Miliner and Robert Lester leading the way. The linebackers are as strong as ever. The defensive line is beefy and very good against the run. The Tide, however, are missing a piece this year. That is something foreign for a Nick Saban defense. Alabama lacks a consistent pass rusher. They don't have a player that is capable of getting after the quarterback each play.
I feel this game comes down to the matchup between the emerging Alabama passing game and the experienced and always solid MSU secondary. Alabama obviously isn't going to throw the ball a ton, but when they do, MSU needs to take advantage and cause a turnover. If they can do this, this game becomes very winnable for the Bulldogs. This game should be physical and come down to the fourth quarter. This will be the biggest challenge of the season for both teams.