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Small Victories: Areas in Which Mississippi State Performed Well Against Alabama

There was a silver lining in more than one area in MSU's loss to Alabama.

Despite Mississippi State's 49-9 loss to Alabama on Saturday night, the Bulldogs found bits of success in some areas of play against the No. 5-ranked Crimson Tide.

MSU's defense was impressive and served as the main reason that the team was able to stay in the game in the first half. Heading into halftime, Alabama only had a 21-6 lead, and two of those touchdowns came as a result of interceptions thrown by Will Rogers. The game started to slip away in the second half, but that was largely due to the fact that State's offense could not score to keep up with the Crimson Tide. Linebacker Nathanial Watson led Mississippi State on defense. He finished with 16 total tackles, including one sack and one tackle for a loss. Fred Peters and Jett Johnson had 10 tackles apiece. Overall, 22 different Bulldogs had at least one tackle. As a whole, the defense had 90 total tackles as opposed to Alabama's 65. 

Another bright spot in the game was the return of kicker Brandon Ruiz, who missed three games after injuring himself against NC State a little more than a month ago. Ruiz was responsible for all of the MSU offense's points. He made all three field goals that he attempted-- his first from 44 yards out and the other two both from 37 yards out. He also did well on the few kickoffs he was needed for. Heading into the second half of the season, Ruiz will continue to be a valuable asset to the team.

Lastly, this game served as proof that the Air Raid offense can work against strong opponents when executed correctly. Rogers was only 35-55 passing and had no touchdowns, but the offense was able to put up 300 passing yards on Alabama and could march down the field fairly easily until reaching the red zone. The Crimson Tide defense has given up an average of 210 passing yards per game this season, so to be 90 yards above the average is impressive. On the ground, Mississippi State had -1 rushing yards and could not seem to get anywhere. It takes a quarterback with a lot of confidence and maturity to run the Air Raid in the best way possible, and it seems as if Rogers is not quite there yet. However, as he -- or any other MSU quarterback -- becomes more able to execute offensively, Mike Leach's offense will be extremely successful in the SEC. 

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