In its last two games against LSU and Mississippi State, Alabama has surrendered an average of 161.5 yards rushing, 3.59 yards a rush and a total of four touchdowns on the ground.
That’s why Alabama is now third in the nation in rush defense at 85.4 yards a game and 2.66 yards per rush. That 2.66 is still stout, but LSU and Mississippi State proved Alabama can be run upon.
“We need to play the run better, but I also think we played two teams that were committed to being able to run the ball,” Saban said. “They ran the ball better than we would like.”
Mississippi State’s dual-threat Nick Fitzgerald didn’t rush for 100 yards (66 on a game-high 22 carries), but created problems to point Evans compared him to a quarterback who has really given Alabama fits.
“The quarterback we faced had some plays that kind of resemble Deshaun Watson being able to use his feet,” said Evans about Fitzgerald, who is sixth in the SEC in rushing with 867 yards.
Sorry, but Fitzgerald isn’t Watson. However, he’s a playmaker who can be difficult to handle.
Jarrett Stidham isn’t nearly the run threat. He has just 105 yards rushing, but has reached the end zone on the ground in two of Auburn’s last three games by keeping the ball on the read-option.
“When he runs it just enough, I think it changes everything,” Malzahn said.
Getting up early on Alabama allowed Mississippi State to stick with the running game. The Bulldogs possessed the ball for 38 minutes and 56 seconds.
LSU never led Alabama, but won the time-of-possession battle, too – 34 minutes, seven seconds. Converting on third down played a big role in LSU and Mississippi State controlling the clock.
LSU – 9-of-19. Mississippi State – 8-of-15.
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