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MSU Mailbag: NFL quarterbacks, the Bama game, Dixieland Delight and more




There are a couple of Alabama-related questions here, and we'll to those quickly, but I have a chance to take a shot at the NFL so I'm going to. 


- @DearOldState asks: Why is every Cowboys game a referendum on Dak Prescott? 


Allow me to play the role of the national TV media covering the NFL. 


Host: Hey Brett what do you think about the Rams' loss to the Saints the other day? 




Host: Did you expect more than 4-4 for the Falcons at this point? 




This is why every game is a referendum on Dak Prescott: Because NFL folks make every game a referendum on every quarterback. The other 21 people on the field? The only matter if they make life hard for a quarterback, as in if a wide receiver starts dropping passes or a pass rusher knocks his head off. 


That being said, I'm not trying to be the All Other Media Sucks guy. I recognize that quarterback is infinitely more important in the NFL than it is in college football, but I've always wondered if it's as important as people make it. Take the Patriots right now: people are going to credit that dynasty to Tom Brady, but they've had the same coach and the same front-office people the entire time. Was the success all Bill Belichick? Was it all the front office people intelligently loading that team with weapons? Is it some combination of three? (Yes, it is.) 


We could probably run that exercise with most runs of prolonged success in the NFL. I'm sure the diehard NFL fans out there (of which I clearly am not) that will hit me up with the particulars of a few runs that can clearly only be attributed to quarterback play, and I won't fight those. But the reason for this dynamic is the typical quarterback getting more credit than they deserve and more blame than they deserve. Because it's easy to just talk about the quarterback. It doesn't take much critical thinking. 


- Alright, let's hit the Bama questions. @ParkerChapman20 asks -- What would you say is the biggest mismatch on MSU's defense vs. Alabama's offense? 


There's no way to construe this defensive front as a mismatch against anybody in college football, so it absolutely has to be the Alabama wide receiving corps against MSU's secondary. But to really dive into that matchup, I want to get in the weeds with it: when the safeties are blitzing. 


One of many things that makes this defense fun is how involved in the blitz game Mark McLaurin and Johnathan Abram are. Let's assume that stays the same against Alabama: that puts the onus on Cameron Dantzler, Jamal Peters, Maurice Smitherman, Chris Rayford, Jaquarius Landrews and Marcus Murphy to be straight-up awesome. We've seen that somewhat regularly from Dantzler, Landrews and even Smitherman; of course there have been flashes from the rest of them, but flashes are not good enough against Alabama. 


If you find yourself interested in this matchup, I would watch how the coverage performs when MSU brings safety pressure. 1-on-1s against this receiving corps are brutally difficult, and if MSU wins them with any regularity, that's a really good sign. 


- That topic leads me pretty well into this question from @Coach18Nabors. Do you think Bama will score less than 30 or more than 30? 


I'm gonna be honest y'all, I am one of those that has surrendered to our overlords. Let's be real, the only reason LSU held Alabama to under 30 is because they missed two extra points; plus that possession early where Tua had to come out for a play or two, things went south and they were forced to punt when previously a touchdown was very much on the board. 


As much as I would love to see how MSU holds the Tide to fewer than 30, just so I could write about it, I'm not going to pick it to happen. Because death and Alabama come for us all. 


- Alright, let's get off the rails for a second and bring it back at the end. @crawford_cam95 -- Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses and one horse-sized duck? 


I must say I wasn't exposed to this hypothetical before I joined this beat. And I also don't understand how this is even a debate. It's the 100 duck-sized horses. 


For one thing, you can pretty easily just swing your feet a few times and dispatch of at least 35 of those ducks. You know that motion you make when you draw a line in the sand with your foot? Just make that motion aggressively three or four times and that should incapacitate a significant portion of the population. Then you run. Yeah, they're technically horses, but they're horses with really small legs, so I would imagine a healthy human can outrun them until you can find something they can't conquer, like a door or a ledge of some kind. The horse-sized duck, however, is physically imposing. 


- I used a Barney Stinson GIF in my request for Mailbag questions and @10RobertWilliam used it as inspiration: Overall thoughts on the show/finale of How I Met Your Mother? Also, if someone was for some random reason in Tuscaloosa this Saturday, do you have any cheap/free parking recommendations? 


So, on HIMYM. Avid fan of the series, love it. Absolutely up there with Friends, The Office, Parks and Rec and Rules of Engagement (seriously, give it a shot) in terms of TV comedy that is good over and over again. 


And the finale controversy. I've seen people be super mad at how the series was named after a man's search for his wife, just for said wife to be the subject of a morbid punch and die, all for the protagonist to go back to the girl who's been in the show from the jump. I mean, what did you expect? I would argue it would be more problematic if the show spent so many years playing with the Ted and Robin dynamic just for it to go away in a heartbeat at the last second. 


As for parking in Tuscaloosa, I actually do have a suggestion, I just hope it's not outdated. There's a parking deck downtown that was free on gamedays as recently as 2016. I don't know exactly what it's called, but it's kind of behind the Moe's Original BBQ downtown, down in that part of town where the Mugshots and court buildings are. Obviously you'll have to get there early for a spot in a free parking deck and it's about a mile walk from there to the stadium, but I did it as a student and I clearly lived to tell the tale. 


- James Roger Craig (@JRCraig6593) has a trio. 1) Which team has the better Heisman candidate? 2) How many field goals does the defense hold Bama to? I say 5. 3) So, can Fitz improve upon his last two weeks? 


1) Jace Christmann vs. All Y'all. That includes Tua. 


2) There's two problems with the whole Alabama field goal thing. The not-so-funny problem is that Alabama is such an explosive play offense now, there's no guarantee they even take a snap in field goal range -- they may just go over the top of you for 40 yards and a touchdown. 


The funny problem: lol Bama's gonna make field goals?  


3) As long as he remains less than prolific in downfield accuracy, there's always room to improve, but I'm not sure we're going to see that from him. And you know what, that's OK. 


There's a reason why so few NFL quarterbacks can do this and do this well for 10+ years -- because there are so few that truly have the ability to do everything. Being a good college quarterback is incredible difficult because you have to do so many things well, and Nick Fitzgerald fits that; he just doesn't throw the deep ball at an elite level. That's OK, because one can still be a good college quarterback with his skill set, as he is proving. 


If you're looking for something tangible from Fitzgerald in this game, I would look at what he does under pressure. He has had moments of finding the right crease to escape the pocket or releasing the ball at the perfect time, but one can always have a better percentage in that regard. And against a defensive front like Alabama's, this would be really good timing to be even better in that realm. 


- And finally, from @dalemo830 -- Just how biased will you be Saturday? Wearing crimson in the press box? Singing Dixieland Delight? 


Man I keep meaning to get this Nick Saban tattoo removed from my face. I'll get around to that eventually. 


#PressBoxFashion will be treated with a light blue look this Saturday. Those of you that live your life in a #triggered state would say it's powder blue, and to you I say, never speak to me. 


And I leave you with this: If singing Dixieland Delight is wrong then I don't wanna be right. I have been known to spend my dollar on beer and I see nothing wrong with telling people accordingly. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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