Although Mississippi State is more than a one-man team, Saban singled out one man. “Dak Prescott is a difficult preparation,” the Tide coach said of the Mississippi State quarterback. He said Prescott is “having a great year as a passer, but he’s also the leading rusher on the team.” He added that Prescott’s success is “a function of their offensive system. It’s really well conceived, very difficult and a lot different than what we’ve played against here in a while.”
Prescott ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in total offense. Though best known for his passing, he also leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 418 yards. He is really dangerous as a passer, completing 200-300 passes for 18 touchdowns and 2,361 yards with only one interception.
Saban said, “Our players have done a very good job of working to try and get ready for this game, we’re looking forward to the challenge and it’s always difficult to play on the road, it’s difficult to play in Starkville. So our players have to have special focus in their mindset, when you’re playing on the road so you don’t get distracted by all the other things going on, and focus on what’s going on and what’s happening on the field.”
Alabama defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson said, “He’s tough because he’s a passing quarterback and he’s also got the threat of the run. So we have to balance up rush lanes and control our gaps in the run game and also in the passing game. So if we convert at the wrong time, he could just gash our defense.”
It’s reasonable to assume that one of the hard workers in practice this week has been the man playing the role of Prescott for the Tide’s scout team.
Tomlinson said the Bama scout team has “been giving us a pretty good look because they’ve been trying their best to make us look bad out there in practice.”
That would be true freshman Blake Barnett, 6-5, 210 pounds.
“Blake Barnett is pretty good at it,” Tomlinson said. “The way he does the read zones and stuff like that, he’ll hold the ball until the very last second and probably pull it in and break for 20 yards or something like that. He’s done a pretty good job at it.”
By all accounts, Barnett was in the mix for the starting job this season as a true freshman, but now seems headed for a redshirt season and competition beginning in the spring with Cooper Bateman, Alec Morris, and David Cornwell for the Bama quarterback job in 2016.
Alabama (8-1 overall, 5-1 in SEC games and ranked second in the nation) plays at Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2, ranked 17th) at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday. The game will be televised by CBS.