(Above left) Backup quarterback Spencer Pennington turns to hand off the football versus Mississippi State. From a quarterbacking standpoint, it was an excellent game for Alabama. Brodie Croyle started and played well--even more importantly avoiding any damaging hits to his injured left shoulder. And Pennington returned to action for the first time since he injured his own (right) shoulder several weeks ago against Georgia.
Zach Fletcher gallops for Bama's first touchdown in the first quarter. Facing a third and 16 from his own 14-yardline, Fletcher took a short pass, broke one tackle and then streaked upfield through the Bulldog secondary for an 86-yard touchdown. (Kent Gidley photo)
On the other side of the football Alabama was able to get consistent pressure on the State quarterbacks for most of the game without blitzing. Here Antwan Odom (#98) grabs MSU's Kevin Fant for one of his two sacks. That's Freddie Roach (#8) pursuing behind. (Kent Gidley photo)
Special Teams Coordinator Dave Ungerer (left) talks with Head Coach Mike Shula during the game. Bama made several key adjustments which paid off in its kicking game Saturday, including using Brandon Brooks to return punts and kickoffs and Alex Fox as the holder for placekicks.
Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant (#16) is hit from the side by Alabama middle linebacker Freddie Roach (#8) late in the first half Saturday, Nov. 8, 2003 in Starkville, Mississippi. Fant was replaced for the rest of the series, but returned to begin the second half. For the game Fant was held to just 100 yards passing and was sacked four times. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
By the fourth quarter the game was clearly in hand, and the Tide coaches responded by playing as many athletes as they could. Here defensive tackle Taylor Britt (#52) and defensive end Jonathan Brunson (#59) rush the MSU passer.
Unfortunately, Alabama's bad injury luck continued. Starting tight end David Cavan (shown on the sideline with an ice pack on his knee) hobbled off the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Before he was taken to the locker room early in the fourth quarter, numerous Tide players came up to console Cavan. At this point Bama has only two healthy tight ends, senior Donald Clarke and sophomore Greg McLain.
With games against LSU, Auburn and Hawaii yet to come, Alabama still faces an uphill battle to achieve a winning record. But linebackers Derrick Pope (#6) and DeMeco Ryans (#35) enjoyed the moment Saturday.