Matchups to Watch: Alabama vs. Mississippi State


CW / Joe Will Field

Carey Reeder | @realCareyReeder, Staff Reporter

Kylin Hill vs. Alabama defense

After arguably the worst performance by an Alabama defense under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide hopes it can put the 46-41 loss to LSU in the rearview mirror and establish itself again against Mississippi State this Saturday. The Alabama defense is ranked 16th in the nation with 18.7 points allowed per game and comes in 30th with 335 yards given up per contest. 

Perhaps the most alarming however, is that Alabama is 34th in rushing defense, allowing 132 yards per game. There is no sleep for the weary with Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill, the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,027 yards, next up for the Crimson Tide. 

Hill had a career-high 234 yards on the ground and three touchdowns last Saturday against Arkansas. It was the junior’s second straight 100-yard game paired with his 150-yard and one touchdown game against Texas A&M on Oct. 26. Hill will be riding a high into the clash with Alabama and if the Crimson Tide defense is to get back on track, it will start with slowing down Hill.

Mississippi State offense vs. Alabama secondary

The LSU wide receivers found themselves in the open field on multiple occasions on Saturday. Tigers players forced 25 missed tackles by Alabama, most of which were by the secondary. 

The Crimson Tide defense, which is ranked 11th in the country in fumble recoveries with nine, unsuccessfully tried to strip the ball to change the momentum of the game in the fourth quarter instead of securing the tackle. 

The Bulldogs give defenses a two-quarterback look, playing both Garrett Shrader and Tommy Stevens under center. Their offense, which has a run-first mentality, ranks eighth in the SEC, gaining 407 yards per game.

Senior cornerback Trevon Diggs was a spectator at practice on a brisk Tuesday with a brace on his left leg. He did participate in Wednesday afternoon’s session. It’s unknown what his availability is for Saturday, but no matter who makes up the 11 players on Alabama’s defense, they have to tackle better than they did against LSU to avoid a second straight setback.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mississippi State

The status update of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the one of the first things Saban mentioned in his Monday press conference. Tagovailoa’s right ankle has been the hottest topic around Tuscaloosa for almost a month, and after limping off the field following the LSU game, many were left wondering how healthy the junior is.

“He’s a little sore, as to be expected,” Saban said. “He did not worsen his injury in that game; we’ll just have to manage it day-by-day.”

Tagovailoa was in full pads for Tuesday’s practice and no extra protection was seen on his right leg, but he did not throw any passes during the media viewing period. Redshirt sophomore Mac Jones took the first-team reps in practice. Predictions are a part of the “rat poison” Saban complains about to the media, but if Tagovailoa is still sore on Thursday or Friday ahead of the game on Saturday, it makes a lot of sense to sit him for a healthier option against the Bulldogs.