Mississippi State vs. Alabama, 11-10-18: In-game report

A pair of sophomores on different sides of the ball are leading the charge for the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.  Behind its star quarterback and dominant defensive line,  Alabama defeated Mississippi State, 24-0.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

13 Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218) Alabama QB-Sophomore  

While a bit undersized, Tua Tagovailoa has the traits of an NFL starting quarterback.  His excellent feet and natural throwing motion stood out once again on Saturday.  In the first quarter, the sophomore perfectly lofted a pass to junior tight end Irv Smith, Jr. (6’4, 240) at the one-yard line near the sideline between two defensive backs. The pass led to a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Hawaii native is also athletic enough to still be able to evade pressure even while dealing with a knee injury that requires him to wear a brace. When the pocket breaks down, Tagovailoa is able to sense it and tries to run.  This can be good and bad.  The positive is that once it led to a 10-yard first down pickup.   On the negative side, Tagovailoa was sacked four times partly because he refused to throw the ball away and sank in the pocket.  He has a lot of the tools to be successful at the next level but I will be interested to see how he improves when it comes to not taking unnecessary sacks. The sophomore quarterback completed 14-of-21 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

92 Quinnen Williams (6’4, 289) Alabama DL-Sophomore 

Williams is one of the coveted defensive lineman in college football because he can play both the run and the pass. Against the pass, Williams was able to use a rip move and get up field to force a sack at the end of the first quarter.  Against the run, Williams plays with great leverage, which allows him to keep a low base and take on multiple interior linemen.  Williams (5 sacks on the season) is violent with his hands and should be able to contribute immediately in either a 4-3 front as a defensive tackle or 3-4 scheme in the NFL as a defensive end. 

Mississippi State blitz packages 

The Bulldogs mustered just 169 yards of total offense but on defense, they may have been on to something that could help other teams in their quest to dethrone Alabama.  Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s unit held Alabama to 305 total yards, which was 200 less than its season average.  They sacked Tagovailoa four times when Alabama had come into the game with just six sacks allowed.  Shoop did it with a variety of blitzes from a number of directions. Three different players accounted for the four sacks.  Sophomore linebacker Willie Gay, Jr. (6’2, 235) led the team with two sacks and also had an interception.  Gay, Jr. was used as a blitzer on multiple occasions prior to his interception, and he was able to fool Tagovailoa by dropping into coverage on the pick.  The numbers will show a blowout but the Bulldogs defense gave Alabama all they could handle. 

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