STARKVILLE, Miss. – Coming off its first loss of the season in which the defense allowed more than 500 yards of offense to LSU, Alabama needed to make a statement Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State.
Alabama gave up big gains on a few quarterback draws and a Bulldog scoring drive in the first quarter was the only blemish on an otherwise dominant day in the Crimson Tide’s 38-7 win.
“Last week, it happened,” Alabama defensive back Xavier McKinney said. “I feel like a lot of times we got to have everybody doing their job and if we do that we will execute well. We did that today.”
Alabama’s defense swarmed to the ball, harassed quarterback Tommy Stevens and took every option away from the Bulldogs, who had just 270 total yards.
Alabama allowed just 92 first-half yards and penned up SEC leading rusher Kylin Hill, who ran for just 24 yards in the first half and 41 yards overall with the lone touchdown.
Stevens got 103 rushing yards after catching Alabama off guard on quarterback draws. One play went for 27 yards (on the Bulldogs’ scoring drive) and the other went for 46 yards.
Everything else the Bulldogs tried went nowhere.
“They had a couple of explosive runs on the quarterback draws,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Other than those two plays I think we played really well on defense. We played with a lot of discipline…we controlled the line of scrimmage really well, I though we tackled better in the game today.”
The defense set the tone on the Bulldogs’ first play of the game. Shane Lee stepped in front of a pass from Stevens and returned it 10 yards to the MSU 19. Tua Tagovailoa hit Najee Harris for a wide open touchdown on the Tide’s next play for a quick 14-0 lead.
“I didn’t see it, but I know he got tackled by the quarterback,” McKinney said. “I was kind of on him for that because he should have scored. That was a big play in the game so that was good for us.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2