Tide Looks For Something Positive

Alabama Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione is hoping that something good happens to his Crimson Tide. Alabama has lost three consecutive games and four consecutive Southeastern Conference contests and the Tide is now 3-5 overall and 2-4 in SEC play. The Tide head coach admitted that it's "a chore" to get things turned around. He said, "We're the kind of team that something good happening to us I think could really get us going in a good direction. We just need something positive."

This week Alabama hosts Mississippi State in an SEC game. Kickoff will be shortly after 11:30 a.m. CST with regional television coverage by Jefferson Pilot.

Mississippi State, coached by former Alabama player Jackie Sherrill, broke a five-game losing streak last weekend with a come-from-behind 17-14 win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs are 2-5 overall and 1-4 in SEC games.

Franchione, speaking at his regular Tuesday press briefing prior to practice, said he has seen no evidence of a poor attitude as the Tide has suffered through a losing streak. "I think we have practiced well," he said. "Their attitude in practice has been good. Their preparation has been good. They've played very hard. The players are frustrated with coming up short, but I haven't seen any ill feelings about any of that, and I think that's the most tangible thing that you look for and you wouldn't want to lose."

The Tide coach said his team has bounced back in practice after every loss. "We pat them on the back for the good practices and we hope that we're going to come out the next week and make the plays to win. They are not getting used to losing or accepting it, and I wouldn't want them to," Franchione said. "They are working hard."

After Alabama gave up a negative record 611 yards in losing to LSU last week, Franchione had been expected to spend more time with the defense. He said that wasn't necessarily the case. "I haven't changed a lot because I'm always involved in it all," he said. He noted that the head coach sometimes has to serve as the problem-solver and said there might be a case where he would make an observation or recommendation to an assistant coach. But he emphasized that he has confidence in his coaching staff.

"We're going through something and we're just going to have to work through it," he said.

The coach said, "Mississippi State kind of got off to a tough start after their opening win." Following the Bulldogs' victory over Kentucky, he said, "I think they got a little chemistry back. They have a big physical offense. They've got some good running backs. They're playing two quarterbacks right now. They are very aggressive on defense as always. You always have to handle their pressure."

Although Mississippi State may use either or both of its two quarterbacks, Wayne Madkin or Kevin Fant, Franchione said the Bulldogs don't change their offense. He noted that the defense needs to be aware of which quarterback is playing because Madkin is "such an outstanding athlete."

Although Alabama has a 67-15-3 record in the series, including a 36-7-1 mark in games played in Tuscaloosa, the Bulldogs have won four of the past five meetings. Last year State took a 29-7 win in Starkville.

Franchione said he was very pleased with the way that offensive tackle Dante Ellington has kept working in an attempt to win back his job. Ellington, a 6-6, 343-pound strongside tackle, started the past two years, but early this season lost his job to redshirt freshman Evan Mathis. The coach noted that Ellington could have felt sorry for himself and sulked and quit, but instead that Ellington stayed in the fight. "He's trying to get better everyday and he's done the only thing he could do, which is fought his way back into the cycle by working." Earlier Franchione had said the two would compete for the starting job this week.

Franchione said that at this point in the year there were no circumstances under which those freshmen who have not played would play and lose their redshirt seasons. In answer to a question, Franchione did not rule out the possibility of recruiting junior college players to meet specific needs, but said his philosophy in building and maintaining a program is to do it with high school signees.

It was announced this week that Alabama's game at Auburn on November 17 will be televised by CBS with kickoff shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST.

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