November 12, 2007

Grading the Tide: MSU 17, Alabama 12

Quarterback
John Parker Wilson played his worst game of the season, bar none. Worse than Vanderbilt, worse than Florida State. His final numbers (16 of 34, 121 yards, no TDs, two INTs) might have been enough to win had the interceptions not been so costly, but both Mississippi State touchdowns came as a direct result. After the second one, Wilson never looked comfortable the rest of the game. There were a lot of throwaways. Even some of the shorter, easier throws to the backs and tight ends (completed or otherwise) were a bit off target.

Offensive line:
After games in which they weren't needed (Tennessee) and wouldn't have helped much anyway (LSU), the absence of suspended starters Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis made its greatest impact yet in Starkville. The one sack allowed by the pass protection belies an effort that wasn't especially strong (MSU's defense was credited with seven QB hurries). The running game had its moments, but did very little on first down wasn't consistent enough to sustain a poor passing attack.

Running back
Terry Grant and Jonathan Lowe handled all but carry. Combined, the pair was 26 for 115 on the ground with no fumbles - not a bad effort, but the yardage was a bit hollow. Grant's long run of the day (17 yards) came on a meaningless draw play at the end of the first half. Lowe was actually the more impressive of the two; he looked more decisive, more aggressive and every bit as quick as Grant. Both are the type of backs who need to break at least one big gainer to make a real impact, and neither was able to do it.

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