Starkville Cowbells Not Issue For Tide

Mississippi State doesn't have much compared to some programs. Among other things, Wade-Davis Stadium in Starkville has about half the capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium. But the Bulldogs fans make the most of the situation.

Alabama will face a hostile situation when the Crimson Tide goes to Mississippi State Saturday. Kickoff at 6:45 will be televised by ESPN and the television audience will see--and hear-- what the 56,000 or so in the stadium will.

We're talking cowbells.

A few years ago the Southeastern Conference finally addressed the situation of Mississippi State flaunting a rule against artificial noisemakers. The deal is that Bulldogs fans can activate their clappers in the same periods of time that a band can play, which is not during play. Last year Mississippi State was fined because the fans couldn't abide by that rule.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban isn't going to let it be an issue. "We've played there before," he said following Bama's Wednesday practice. "I guess you get used to it.

"Some places are loud because people are screaming. This place is a little louder because of the ringing of the bells. On the noise meter, it's about the same.

"It's never been something that we've made an issue with our players.

"It's never created that big of a problem."

Alabama has dominated Mississippi State historically. TheTide has a 74-18-3 lead in the series. Bama has won three in a row over the Bulldogs, including 30-10 last year in Tuscaloosa and 31-3 two years ago in Starkville.

Alabama goes into the game with an 8-1 record, including a 5-1 mark in Southeastern Conference games. Mississippi State is 5-4, but only 1-4 in SEC games. Bama is ranked fourth in the nation.

Saban said that Mississippi State has "played some tough teams and played them very well. They've played well on defense. They are physical. They run the ball well.

"This is a tough place to play, as a lot of places in the SEC are, but that's something else that the players are going to have to get rady for."

Alabama is coming off a 9-6 overtime home loss to number one ranked LSU.

Saban said that Bama players had a "pretty good day's work out there today. Pretty good intensity, pretty good enthusiasm. It's good to see the players bouncing back and respond to what happened and looking forward to what they can accomplish in the future.

"The thing we need to focus on is playing well and what we can control, finishing strong in the next three games of this season. Finish the season the right way."

He said, "We need to respond to what's happening right now, get back out there and play well and understand that what we learned from the last game is that the margin of error is really not very large between success and failure, and they have to stick to the process and the preparation of what we try to do so we can play well."

On the injury front, Saban said that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, wide receiver Marquis Maze, and tight end Brad Smelley had praciced, but that offensive lineman Barrett Jones is still day-to-day. All were injured in the loss to LSU. He also said that freshman tailback Dee Hart, who has been injured and is not expected to play this year, is not practicing while he takes care of "some personal things."

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