Alabama hosts Mississippi State in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 11:30 a.m. CST Saturday with regional television coverage by Jefferson Pilot. Bama has lost three consecutive games and is now 3-5 overall and 2-4 in Southeastern Conference games. 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 thinks one key to the game will be Alabama's defense being able to stand up to the Bulldogs' running game. Bama's defense has been exploited by passing in most games this year, but Franchione said, "We will have to handle the physical side of the game. They have a big offensive line and a big tailback and they rushed for over 200 yards against us last year. [It was actually 276 rushing yards on 50 rushes.] We have to slow them down." The coach pointed out that in a football game, one side controls the down and distance and the other side reacts to that situation. He wants his team to keep Mississippi State out of short yardage situations on second and third downs.
Franchione said that Thursday's two-hour workout in shorts was a good one. "We had good focus and it came at the right time," he said "I'm very pleased."
There are some personnel matters still to be determined, but Franchione said that he plans to start Triandos Luke and Jason McAddley as kickoff return men against State. While he said he hoped State would have just one kickoff in the game -- the one given to a team at the start of one of the halves as opposed to those that come after scores -- he said it was possible that Antonio Carter and/or Freddie Milons, the return men earlier this year, might be used.
Franchione also said Evan Mathis is likely to start at strongside tackle, but said that he expects former starter Dante Ellington to see a great deal of playing time at that position.
The coach said there is a possibility there could be a change in the rotation at cornerback, but did not elaborate.
Franchione also addressed a rumor that he could not believe. He said he had not been contacted by anyone at Kansas and that he was not considering the Kansas job. Moreover, he said he would no longer respond to such rumors. "Where do things like that come from?" he said.