MSU vs. Alabama: Key Matchups

November 10, 2011

News, Sports

Instant Analysis: This is a game that many think MSU is extremely undermanned in, but as I detailed in my comparison article, the Bulldogs aren’t as over-matched as many think. I will spotlight the key matchups for both teams in this article and discuss what to expect to see from both teams on Saturday.

Key Matchups


Alabama Pass Rush vs. MSU Offensive Line:  Alabama can come from several angles in their 3-4, and this will be a great offensive line matchup to watch this weekend. Georgia also runs a 3-4 defense, but they do not come from as many angles as Alabama does.  I think this will be a matchup in which Alabama will try to exploit James Carmon and starting Center Dillon Day, in my opinion.

Kirby Smart vs. Les Koenning:  Dan Mullen has taken over play calling for the most part, but Koenning still plays a big role in game planning.  This is an area where Alabama has the advantage; Kirby Smart is one of best defensive coordinators in the nation.

Mississippi State

MSU Cornerbacks vs. Alabama Wide Receivers:  I honestly don’t even think the Alabama wide receivers match up at all with MSU’s cornerbacks. They struggled to make plays against LSU, and I expect the same result when they go against State’s cornerbacks. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the Bulldogs bump ‘n run the whole night, especially when Darius Slay and Johnthan Banks are at cornerback.

MSU DT vs. Alabama Interior OL:  Alabama’s offensive line, as a whole, matches up fairly well with Mississippi State’s defensive line, but the Bulldogs have the advantage on the inside.  Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox are unblockable when they bring their A game. If they do, then Alabama’s interior offensive line will have a long night in Starkville.

What To Expect To See


Richardson In The Passing Game:  I’m actually predicting that Richardson will have a tough time getting it going on the ground. So, I expect to see him utilized with versatility, getting more involved in the passing game, just like he did against LSU.

Alabama In The Shotgun:  Alabama worked out of the Shotgun a good bit against LSU, and I expect to see the same on Saturday. Misissippi State’s starting linebackers aren’t the best man-to-man linebackers, and they may try to get them singled up on a slot receiver, such as DeAndrew White.

Complex Blitz Schemes:  I mentioned above that Alabama comes from several angles, and I definitely expect to see it on Saturday with MSU starting two inexperienced linemen.

Mississippi State

Speed Option:  LSU had success with the speed option, and I expect to see State implement some of the same versus Alabama.  This likely means, as I mentioned in the previous article, that Relf will see tons of snaps and should start in this game.

Play Action:  LSU connected on some big plays off of play action, and State normally sets up the pass with the run.  So, I expect to see the Bulldogs use a heavy dose of play-action passing to generate a big play or two.

Eight and Nine In The Box:  MSU loaded the box against the power run game of LSU, and I expect to see them do the same against Alabama.  They have the cornerbacks to enable them to execute that strategy.

Final Analysis: The Crimson Tide is the more talented team, but there are matchups that MSU can take advantage of.  This will be a game that Mullen, Koenning, and Wilson will have to coach the game of their lives if they hope to pull off the upset and have a chance at making history against Alabama yet again on Scott Field.


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