Shula Deals with Tough Loss

After Alabama's 24-16 loss against Mississippi State Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula spent a little extra time talking to his team. When he spoke with reporters a little over a half an hour after the game, he tired to sum up the disappointment of the loss.

"We thought we'd be further along and it's my job to get the team where we need to be," he siad. "We need to do it in a hurry. We've got to stick together."

Things only get tougher. Alabama goes to Baton Rouge, Louisiana next week to play LSU, and wraps up the regular season against Auburn at home in two weeks.

"Overall, I know we're a better football team than the way we played out there," Shula said. "We still might not have won the game, but we're a better team. Now we've got to find out why we're not where we want to be, especially offensively."

Shula and Crimson Tide players have continually stated that the squad looks sharp in practice (which are closed to the public and media) even though it hasn't translated over to games.

"The guys have worked their tails off," Shula said. "We can't have penalties and we can't have turnovers. Like I told the team, I thought our preparation was really good. We had a good week. Guys were focused and busting their tails like they've done all year."

"We've got a lot of young guys - you know that - some guys that are nicked up," he said.

Shula said that Sly Croom's Mississippi State squad "did a nice job and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they played."

As for getting soundly beaten on both lines of scrimmage with few exceptions, Shula said "I think (Mississippi State) did a good job up front on both sides of the offensive line, but yeah, John Parker had pressure on some throws. We've got to keep working on the offensive line, and it's not just them, it's everybody. (Mississippi State defensive end) Titus Brown did a nice job last year, and did a nice job against some other teams, and did today."

Brown, the left defensive end, blasted by starting right tackle Chris Capps, and later backup Kyle Tatum.

"They've got to work and get better," he said. "I don't know if that was their best day. I'm not going to sit and point fingers at just them. Chris has done a nice job when we moved him from left to right. Even with some help we didn't do a good enough job in securing that pocket."

There was another "kick or try to score a touchdown" decision at the end of the first half, with Alabama on the two yard line with two seconds remaining, and Alabama went for the touchdown and failed to make it.

"We had five guys in the pattern, released all five with a lot of options for John Parker and I didn't quite see if he had somebody open or not," Shula said. "If it's not quite clear to him he's done a real good job of being decisive and he went for it and came up a couple of inches short."

The first series of the game when Bama drove into the red zone to come away with only a field goal could have been a tone-setter for the rest of the day on offense, Shula said. Instead it struck a sour note.

"We don't get the ball in there on the third down play and kick the field goal, it seemed like after doing so many good things and they way we hadn't executed in the end zone we didn't get the momentum we needed," he said.

Shula said, "I think our defense played really well in the second half. We gave up too many yards rushing in the first half. Offensively, we couldn't get the ball in the end zone and we turn the ball over for a touchdown."

There were other obvious questions: Has the offense regressed instead of going forward?

"When you look at the results and yardage," Shula said, "and minus Keith Brown, and hopefully he can come back. When you look at those numbers it's easy to say yes, but when you look at some things we're doing – we had a chance at the end with a big throw to D.J. (Hall) – I know one thing we're not getting as many big plays as we have the past couple weeks. This offense has been, when we've really moved the ball, we've had some big plays from some guys.

"When you lose you've got to make sure you fix whatever it takes to win football games. There are probably some things we're not where we need to be, or where we thought we'd be at this time. There are some things we started out well, third down conversion, that we're not doing now."

Shula said, "We're going to look real hard on why we didn't go out there and play better and coach better. As far as that goes it doesn't change, but will we look at other things? We talked to our team. I've asked our team to keep working the way they've been working. If we need to do some things on the play wise we'll look at that, if that's having the right guy in there, how we can do some other things better."


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