Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Mississippi State center Jamaal Clayborn talks about his team's up coming game against the Alabama Crimson Tide

Mississippi State, winners of four straight, will get a chance to change the landscape of the SEC Western Division race this weekend. Visiting Alabama comes to David Wade Stadium as the favorite to win the division, but a Bulldog win could add a tremendous amount of intrigue to the push for Atlanta. Bulldog center Jamaal Clayborn reports that his team is preparing for a stiff test from the Tide this Saturday afternoon.

The Mississippi State offensive front performed well last week against a talented Missouri defense. While the Tide brings some different things schematically, a maturing crop of Bulldog blockers have drawn some confidence from last week's showing in Columbia, Missouri.

"Missouri has a good front and they play hard," Clayborn said. "Alabama is going to play hard too. Missouri was physical, but Alabama may be a little more physical. Alabama is a little beefier and bulkier up front. 

"Alabama will come straight at you. Missouri was more of a stunting team."

As is often the case, the talk in the pre-season centered around the development of the Bulldog offensive line. Having to replace three starters, Coach John Hevesy had some work to do to get his unit to gel and prepare for a rugged SEC schedule. Now into November, that Bulldog offensive line appears to be peaking.

"I think we have worked hard this year," Clayborn said. "We've just come out and tried to get better. I feel like we're working a little better as a unit. There are still some things that we need to continue to work on, so we are just going to take it day by day."

The Bulldog blocking scheme involved some musical chairs last week when Rufus Warren was lost for the game. His position mate, Elgton Jenkins, did not dress for the game, so senior left guard slid out to handle the chores of being the blindside protector. 

"We shuffle a lot in practice as it is," Clayborn said. "It was just a next guy step in, move over, slide this way, slide right and we got the W."

While getting the Bulldogs' seventh win of the 2015 season was job one, Clayborn believes that his unit could have executed at a much higher level. 

"We could have done better in the Missouri game," Clayborn said. "We started off a little slow, not the perfect weather conditions. We could have communicated better on certain things. I take responsibility. We are just going to keep getting better. You can never be a perfect communicator. You can always improve."

The next step up the SEC ladder is a win over Alabama. In order for Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State football team to keep their SEC West title hopes alive, they must knockout THE SEC heavyweight.

"It's Alabama. That's all that needs to be said," Clayborn shared. "It's Alabama week, so we are definitely going to put our work boots on and get the job done. They are a great team and this is definitely the best defense we have seen."

The Tide's win over LSU was certainly an impressive victory. Several Bulldog players, including Clayborn, tuned into do some advance scouting.

"They are the best team as unit," Clayborn said. "I actually watched them on Saturday against LSU. They are probably like the best team in the country right now."

The name Alabama carries a certain mystique in football circles Clayborn reports that the Bulldog coaches have worked hard this week to play the team rather than the tradition.

"Our coaches do a great job of telling us to just focus on us," Clayborn said. "They are a great team. Don't get me wrong. They have a great defensive coordinator and they have a great team. We are just going to do what we do best and hopefully come out with the W."

Alabama and Mississippi State will play before a national audience this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30. CBS will handle the broadcasting duties.


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