Grading the MSU game

Saturday showed a very familiar looking Bama team. Sound fundamentals, no flash, nothing fancy. Just winning the one-on-one battles and taking care of business.

Quarterbacks: A

This was Brodie Croyle's best game. He knew where he was and where his blockers were on every play. He was patient and didn't press or force any plays.

It was also good to get Spencer Pennington some reps. It's nice to be back up to two-deep at quarterback.

Running Backs: A

Any fan of football that doesn't respect Shaud Williams needs to rethink why he is a fan of the game. Shaud is special; there's no other way to put it.

Le'Ron McClain blocked well.

The backs ran behind their pads and found the holes. They bounced outside when the hole collapsed. They set up their blocks extremely well.

This may have been the unit's best game blocking.

Wide Receivers: A

They ran crisp routes and blocked exceptionally well.

As a thankful change, the wideouts gained plenty of yards after the catch. Importantly, the athletes made sure of the catch before they tried to run.

Offensive Line: A

These guys came off the ball and took care of business. They knocked the Mississippi State defensive linemen back into the Bulldog linebackers all game.

As a unit Bama's linemen stayed with their blocks better Saturday than they have all season.

Atlas Herrion handled left tackle.

Special Teams: A

Kick coverage was very good. Protection was outstanding. Blocking on returns was much improved.

Defensive Line: A

The defensive line consistently created a new line of scrimmage on almost every play.

But as sometimes happens, running lanes were very seldom created because of too much penetration by both defensive tackles.

Importantly, the defensive ends did a very good job containing the outside.

Linebackers: A

We noticed they played deeper Saturday.

As a unit Bama's ‘backers ran well and took advantage of the plugs created by the defensive line.

Pass coverage was also much improved.

Defensive Backs: A

Very good coverage!

Derrick Pope is back at full speed.

We liked the fact that they knocked a few receivers off their routes without blowing the big plays.

Additionally, the Tide secondary was back to its early season form in run support and popping ball carriers.


Mississippi State is a very bad football team. But Bama did a lot of things to make the Bulldogs look even worse. The Tide didn't make mistakes that could have cost the game.

Fundamentally, it was one of the best games of the season and will hopefully build some confidence for the rest of the season.

EDITOR'S NOTE: David Bittinger is a veteran high school coach, now teaching in North Alabama. Each week during football season he'll watch the games with some of his coaching friends, and afterwards pass along some of their thoughts/comments about what they saw.

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