What Tiders Had To Say About Beating MSU

When the time came to make a big, drive-stopping play, Landon Collins was ready. Alabama’s junior safety intercepted Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott to stop a Bulldogs drive with 5:01 remaining. He dove and grabbed a tip ball at his own 15, fell forward two yards, and Alabama had the football with a 25-13 lead.

His play helped enable the Alabama Crimson Tide to knock off No. 1 Mississippi State, 25-20.

“On defense, we have to make turnovers,” Landon Collins said. “That’s game-changing momentum, and that’s what we try to do.” Collins knew such a play was needed if his team was to keep all its goals in front of it, including staying in contention for the SEC West, conference, and national titles. “If we play to our standard, at the end of the day, we can be where we want to be,” he said.

Collins, who made seven stops, had plenty of help in the turnover department, as he was one of three Tide defenders to pick off Prescott. Joining him in that category were senior safety Nick Perry and junior cornerback Cyrus Jones. Collins said, “Nick (Perry’s) been doing a great job being a senior (leader), and being the person we need him to be.” Perry made a game-high 12 tackles. Reggie Ragland added 10.

Cyrus Jones had but four tackles, but it was his interception in the end zone that stopped a third quarter Bulldog march to preserve a then 19-6 Tide advantage. “They were empty (backfield) and spread out wide with five wide receivers in the game,” Jones said. “I just tried to get my guy cut off, and I turned around and the ball was coming. I was just trying to make a play.

“Turnovers play a big part in the game, especially down the stretch when things are getting tight. You need those stops at the end.”

Twice, Alabama limited the Bulldogs to field goals when the visitors were deep in the red zone, which Jones called “definitely big. Anytime you hold a team to three points instead of six is awesome.”

Thanks to State’s final 72-yard march that culminated with a touchdown and failed onside kick, Heisman candidate Prescott finished with fairly impressive statistics, going 27-of-48 passing for 290 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for another 82 yards net. That said, he was mostly ineffective for the first three quarters, and did throw the afore-mentioned three picks. Containing him was largely by design.

“We tried to disguise our coverages and force some mistakes,” Perry said. “We emphasized turnovers all week (at practice). “ Jones added, “(Slowing Prescott) was a collective job, all together, like each and every week is. We just try to prepare well in practice, study our game plan, and be on top of things mentally when we come in (to a game). That’s the biggest thing; we just went out there and tried to execute what we’ve been taught.”

Senior linebacker Trey DePriest concurred, and said, “This game was hard. On defense, we never let down, we kept our composure, and we executed the game plan.”

Said defensive end Jonathan Allen, “I feel like we did a good job containing (Prescott), and being physical. It was about all eleven men on the field doing our jobs.”

It had no effect on the final scoreboard, but the Bulldogs actually out-gained Alabama on offense, 428 yards to 335. However, when State cut the Alabama lead to 19-13 with 14:16 left, senior quarterback Blake Sims led a 15-play, 76-yard march that took 6:07 off the clock and put his team up by two scores, 25-13, with just over eight minutes left.

“We made some big plays at the right time,” said Sims, who finished 19-of-31 passing for 211 yards and one score. “The guys (on offense) fought hard. The defense made a great stand for us to have that drive. I’m just proud of the way the whole team played.”

Twice on that job, Sims scrambled to convert key third downs. “Blake (Sims) is getting better every week, and that’s a good thing,” said junior receiver Amari Cooper, who had 88 yards on 8 catches. “He does his job.”

Another man who did his job was true freshman punter J.K. Scott, who averaged 45.6 yards on 7 boots, and downed 5 of them inside the 20. “JK’s a weapon,” Collins said. “I stay on him, and he stays on me. Whenever each of us does something good, we go up to each other and congratulate each other.”

DePriest added, “(Scott) changed the field position, and kept (the Bulldogs) backed up all night.”

Sims reiterated the fact that the team’s goals are still achievable after beating the Bulldogs. “It’s really big, and I’m glad we got the win. I’m looking forward to seeing what else we have this year.”

Said DePriest, “We’ve still got games to play. We’ve got to go to work on (next week’s opponent) Western Carolina. We have to take care of business.”

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