TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – One week after a deflating loss, Alabama’s defense bounced back and carried the Crimson Tide to a 30-6 victory over No. 24 Mississippi State.
Eli Ricks made his first start for the Crimson Tide Saturday night, in a move that seemed to re-energize an Alabama defense that let up 52 points the week prior.
According to PFF, Ricks allowed just a single reception in 10 targets. He also forced five incompletions and allowed just 19 yards. As close to a lockdown performance as one could get considering they were going against the “air raid” offense.
He started in favor of redshirt freshman Terrion Arnold, who’s seen significant time for the Tide at corner this season.
Head Coach Nick Saban was pleased with the LSU transfer’s outing.
“He prepared well all week, and I thought he played pretty well in the game.”
Ricks’ defensive compatriot Demarco Hellams had nothing but praise.
“He did a great job today,” Hellams said.
“He always prepares like a starter. He did a great job stepping up when his opportunity came.”
The Alabama defense as a whole seemed more like themselves against Mississippi State. Especially when it came to the pass rush.
The Tide tallied four sacks and seven hurries in the game, keeping Will Rodgers on edge all night. The junior completed just 30/60 passes on the night, finishing with a QBR of 41.7.
We Talking about Practice?
One shocking aspect of the Tide’s blowout win was a complete offensive turnaround from the Tennessee game. While it’s hard to come away from a blowout win with anything but positives, Alabama’s offense seemed rusty to say the least.
The Tide scored just six points in the second half, punting on four of their final six drives to end the game. The issue certainly didn’t come with Bryce Young.
The Heisman winner threw for 249 yards, two touchdowns and kept seemingly every broken-down play alive with his illusiveness in and outside of the pocket. Two great weeks after the return from injury for Young apparently came without much practice, at least according to Saban.
Saban, speaking after the game, hopes that the two-week break will allow Young to get back to 100% and get some practice reps in.
If these are the kind of performances Young is putting up now, future opponents look out.
A Return to Form, Literally
Don’t look now, but it seems as if Alabama might have shored up some of the penalty issues that have plagued them so far this season. The Crimson Tide were hit with just three penalties for 20 yards, with one of them coming on Mississippi State’s final drive.
Compared to games with 17 (versus Tennessee) and 15 (versus Texas) penalties, this was one of Alabama’s first clean games so far this season.
Saban attributed the fix to the team simply having more fun and playing with less anxiety, one of the major talking points from last week’s loss.
Alabama will have two weeks off before they travel to take on the LSU Tigers, who just dismantled a No. 7 Ole Miss team 45-20. That game is set for Nov. 5.
After that, they’ll get their own shot at Ole Miss on Nov. 12.
Follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley.