Nick Saban Talks Mississippi State’s Pass Heavy Offense
Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are preparing this week to take on a Mississippi State offense in Starkville that passes the ball 75.97% of the time when they are on offense. Saban was asked about the Bulldogs' pass-heavy offensive strategy and how his team has prepared to defend it during his weekly Wednesday press conference.
"When they throw the ball -- I don’t know, I think it’s pretty close to 80% of the time -- almost on every down, you have to change the way you think. The old-fashioned, gotta stop the run on regular downs and play the passes, you’ve gotta kind of change to, yeah, we’ve got to stop the runs, but we’ve got to play really good pass defense on every down because a lot of their passes are control game, get the ball out quick, short, gain five, seven, catch and runs, so you’ve got to break on the ball and tackle well. It’s a little different mindset that your team has to have and your signal-caller. But that’s the way we practiced all week so the players should be getting it, and I think we’ve got a good idea of what they’re going to do. It’s just going to be a matter of how our guys execute and be able to get consistent enough performance down in and down out, not to give them big plays and to try to be able to deny the ball when we need to so we can get off the field."
MSU quarterback Will Rogers has accounted for 1,862 yards of offense so far this season with his arm, with the team splitting receptions between 11 different wide receivers and running backs. He has completed 75% of his passes this year.
Their top receiver, Makai Polk, has 46 receptions for 430 yards and four receiving touchdowns in 2021.
As a team led by Mike Leach, you expect MSU to pass a lot on offense. Leach has only led one team since 2000 that averaged under 300 passing yards per game and it was the 2020 Bulldogs team. But this means their rushing attack leaves lots to be desired. The Bulldogs only average 56.2 yards rushing per game which gives Alabama a true focus on pass protection as they finish up this week of practice.
Saban pointed out that preparation will be key for the Tide as they look towards the Saturday matchup. Alabama's defense has allowed an opponent pass completion percentage of 64% so far this season, giving up 194.8 passing yards on average per game. They have allowed 1,169 total passing yards through six games this season.
Alabama will have to be mindful of short passes and passes behind the line of scrimmage, as well as the use of running backs in the passing game. RBs Jo’quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson have combined for 69 receptions this season, totaling 402 yards receiving.
Rogers only has five completions of over 30 yards and he is ranked last in average depth of target for quarterbacks who have 150+ pass attempts. He gets the ball out quickly and has only been sacked 10 times this season thanks to his offensive line and their pass blocking.
Saban understands the task his team has at hand defending an offense that passes so heavily, and the Alabama defense will look to execute their game plan and remain consistent through all four quarters this weekend in Starkville.
If you want to listen to Nick Saban's weekly Wednesday press conferences, you can tune in to Tide 100.9 every Wednesday at 6 P.M., followed by analysis with the newest sports talk analysts, our intern team!
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