Alabama’s A-game too much for Mississippi State

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Oct. 17—STARKVILLE — Bryce Young stood up after taking out a Mississippi State cheerleader and immediately headed back to Alabama’s huddle without showing a hint of emotion.

Initially, the officials threw a flag for a late hit on Mississippi State’s Nathaniel Watson who met Young on the sideline on the southwest side of Davis Wade Stadium.

As Watson, head coach Mike Leach and the Mississippi State faithful — using their cowbells — protested the call, Young was unbothered.

He remained that way even after the flag was picked up and it was ruled a clean play — one that history will remember as a scramble for no gain.

It was this maturity from a sophomore quarterback starting his seventh career game that separated Young from a young Mississippi State team in Alabama’s 49-9 win Saturday.

“He’s a great player,” linebacker Jett Johnson said postgame. “That’s why he’s at Alabama.”

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Young’s all-white uniform was far from clean when the evening ended.

Mississippi State brought the pressure it said it would in hopes of rattling the 20-year-old under center. But with each blitz the Bulldogs brought, Young looked more relaxed.

Alabama’s first touchdown came as Mississippi State brought the house and Young waited patiently before hitting John Metchie III across the middle of the field. A Fred Peters missed tackle later along with blocking by Alabama receiver Slade Bolden, and Metchie was gone for a 46-yard touchdown.

Mississippi State tried a similar tactic while down 28-9 in the third quarter. Young stayed calm and found running back Brian Robinson for a 51-yard score.

“We should’ve got home more,” Leach said. “The other thing is, on a couple we took bad angles. The other thing, he’s a quick-footed guy. He’s good in the pocket and all those things. I knew he’d get out of some of them.”

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Everything Young and the Alabama offense did, Will Rogers and his Mississippi State teammates couldn’t.

After a powerful surge up the middle by Christian Harris and Brian Branch, Rogers was taken down on third down late in the first quarter nearly just as he caught the snap.

Rogers went straight to the medical tent with what appeared to be discomfort in his right shoulder area. He returned to the game, but the pain and defensive pressure awaited him.

Rogers was sacked seven times. Poor offensive line play was part of the equation, but so was Rogers’ tendency to hold the ball too long.

Rogers had clear miscommunication with his receivers at times, particularly Makai Polk who had 13 catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns in MSU’s win at Texas A&M two weeks prior.

The first miscommunication on MSU’s opening drive — which it had an extra week to script — was a harmless incompletion. The second was Rogers’ third interception of the season.

“I don’t think (Rogers) was as precise in his reads as should have been,” Leach said. “I did not think our receivers were consistently where they were supposed to be. They figured, ‘Oh Alabama is really good and they’re so superior. We’ll just go ahead and invent a route.’

A couple drives later, Rogers had his fourth interception of the season.

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This one was taken for a score by Alabama safety Jordan Battle who took the energy out of an MSU crowd which had just gotten engaged following an Alabama three-and-out.

These mistakes piled up toward Davis Wade Stadium clearing out early two weeks after Rogers voiced his displeasure with fans leaving games before they ended.

Combined with the gauntlet of who the opponent was, Mississippi State struggled to return blows of its own.

“We let the logo get us down a little bit — the A,” Johnson said.

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