The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are set for a 6 p.m. CT matchup on ESPN
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team began the new week of practice with an hour and 15 minutes of work in helmets and shorts on Monday afternoon at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields.
The Crimson Tide returned to the field for the first time following Saturday’s 24-10 win over then-No.19 LSU. Alabama will hit the road this weekend when the Tide heads to Starkville to take on the No. 16/18/18 Mississippi State Bulldogs this Saturday, Nov. 11, at Davis Wade Stadium. The divisional showdown is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPN. Dave Pasch and Greg McElroy will call the game from the booth with Tom Luginbill on the sidelines.
The Bulldogs enter Saturday’s game with a 7-2 overall record, including a 3-2 mark in SEC play. Mississippi State is led by head coach Dan Mullen, who is now in his ninth year in Starkville. Mullen has a career record of 67-44 in Starkville but owns an 0-8 mark against the Crimson Tide.
Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 102nd time in a series that dates back to 1896. The Tide holds the all-time advantage, 81-17-3 (79-18-3 after vacations/forfeits) in the series, and has won nine consecutive meetings in the matchup. The Crimson Tide defeated the Bulldogs, 31-6, in Alabama’s last visit to Davis Wade Stadium in 2015 and won the most recent meeting, 51-3, in Tuscaloosa in 2016. UA holds an all-time advantage of 17-4 (16-4 after vacations) in games played in Starkville.
Nick Saban met with the media prior to practice on Monday afternoon. Following is his opening statement:
“To wrap up the last game after watching the film, I would say it was a classic rivalry game, like a lot of games that we’ve had with LSU. I think that at times we didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked, and we certainly have a lot of things that we can clean up and work on fundamentally – technique-wise – and playing on the line of scrimmage. The players showed a lot of persistence, determination and discipline to be able to stay in the game in a tough, hard-fought game, to come out on top and win the game. It was probably a good lesson for everybody to have to deal with; I talked about it after the game, responding the right way because things don’t (always) go well. We’re playing lots of good teams right now, and we’re going to play another good team this week. There’s going to be a lot of tough circumstances and sometimes those guys are going to win, and you’ve got to be able to respond and play the next play, so that’s something we learned some lessons about in this game.
“You got the players of the week, but it’s especially nice to have a guy recognized with Ronnie Harrison as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. JK Scott, in terms of special teams, received national Ray Guy (Player of the Week) recognition for what he did in the game. We talked about that after the game; to average 51 yards per punt and have six or seven of them land inside the 20 is pretty significant in controlling vertical field position, and that was really important in the game.
“It’s going to be really important for us to create some opportunities for some other people, as we’ve got some guys nicked up a little bit. I don’t think that this is something that anybody should sit around and say ‘Wow, I’m going to have to pick up my game now’. I think everybody should’ve been picking up their game to start with. Everybody has just got to be who they are, do what they do and be a good teammate by supporting the players that are out there and by playing together as a unit while doing their job. That’s the way we need to go about it.
“Mississippi State is a really good team as they’ve won seven games this year. (Head coach) Dan (Mullen) has done a really good job in the years that he’s been there. He’s a great offensive coach, and he always presents a lot of issues and problems for the defense to adjust to. Nick Fitzgerald has done a really good job at quarterback. He’s a very good passer, a great runner and a big, physical, strong guy that they use both ways. They’ve been very consistent in their run-pass and the mix of what they do and how they do it. Their defense has shown tremendous improvement. Todd Grantham is the new defensive coordinator there, and they’ve really done well this year as they’re one of the top-ranked defensive teams in the country. They’re really solid on special teams, as they’re highly ranked in almost every category in the SEC in special teams, and their specialists (kicker and punter) have done a really good job for them. This is all-around a really good team and a really challenging place to play, and our players need be able to respond to it the right way.
“I’m sure you all know, as I said after the game, Shaun Dion (Hamilton) had a successful surgery. This is something he’ll be able to respond to in a few months and hopefully be able to come back and have an opportunity to do some things to extend his career. Mack (Wilson) had foot injury that will probably put him out four to six weeks; we’ll just have to play it by ear and see how fast it heals. We’ve got some other guys that are nicked up that may not practice today, but we think they’ll be ready to go tomorrow and be able to do enough to be ready to play in the game.”