I’m not sure why offensive coordinator Brian Daboll decided to start Damien Harris then not use him in the next two series.
Alabama returned to its five-plus yards-per-carry average gaining 202 yards on 38 carries with Harris still leading the team in rushing yards with 93 on eight carries and a touchdown. That’s an 11.6 yard-per-carry average. Look, I know Alabama has a deep stable of ball-carriers, but Harris is the best and a running back averaging over 11 yards-per-carry has earned more than eight touches.
Even though Bama’s offense was limited for the second straight game – although how many college football teams would consider their offense “limited” after scoring 31 points and rushing for 202 yards on the road against a team that came into the game ranked 7th nationally in total defense – the running game lead the way to victory.
5. The offensive line must be better
For the second straight game, Alabama’s offensive line was pushed around much too regularly. Not only did the O-line give up five sacks, but it took them almost all game long before really finding a rhythm when it came to moving the ball.
It was good enough to survive, but with the Auburn game looming two weeks and potentially Georgia and the College Football Playoff beyond that, the Tide have to solve its problems up front.
Mississippi State did just enough to keep the game close, but judging from Auburn’s performance against Georgia and the way the Tigers manhandled the Bulldogs previously dominant offensive line, AU can do more than just keep a game close.
The play of the offensive line and it’s ability to create running lanes and provide Hurts enough time to throw from a clean pocket will be the difference in who wins the SEC West in two weeks.
(You can follow Justin Nails on Twitter @JustinNails)
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