"When you look at the tape of Alabama, what you see is a team that has a lot of (good) players and a lot of depth. They lost Galloway, but they are still productive at tailback. They lost a quarterback because of an injury and a young man comes in and plays very well. Even on the defensive line, they are playing a lot of people. They play a lot of people, which gives them the ability to keep people healthy and also gives them the ability to be very fresh. They are not leading the league in rushing or throwing but are leading the league in total offense which means they are very balanced. Defensively, they have done a very good job against some outstanding football teams. They are playing a lot of coverages, a lot of difference fronts. Alabama ((defense) does a good job of taking away what you do (on offense). All four of their defensive linemen are (high up) in their tackle chart. Their strength is probably where our weakness is. Certainly losing another (offensive lineman), Brad Weathers, hurts us even more."
"Hopefully, we can get Brad Weathers back for this game, but I doubt it. We certainly should have him back for the Tennessee game. We won't know about Justin Griffith (status for this game) until Thursday. If he can't play, then we will have to make some adjustments. Darnell Jones has back spasms and did not practice (Monday) and will not practice (Tuesday)."
"This series has been a very tough series. The game on both side of the football has been very, very close. Over the last 11 years, I think there has been a 9.3 difference. The shortest margin has been 1 point with the largest margin being 22 points."
Talk about linebacker Cornelius Wortham (from Calhoun City, Miss.).
"He is a (good) athlete. He was a very good player in high school. Of course, he played in the secondary. We thought he would be a (good) DOG safety (for us). At Alabama, they put him at linebacker and he is very, very productive.
"As a matter of fact, their two linebackers are big defensive backs, but because of the front that they are playing, they are able to let those guys run. When they run a blitz or go east and west, they have a lot of speed to track you down. Alabama is the most talented football team in this conference. They have a lot of talent."
What do the fans not see that you see when determining who will play at tailback for you?
"Will the kid (Jerious Norwood) be an outstanding player? Yes. But there are a lot of other things left. You want to make sure you have players have success than not have success when they are young."
Does loyalty figure in the mix when you determine who starts at tailback?
"No, I don't think that matters. We will play freshmen. When you look at other positions, we are playing freshmen."
After watching the game film, do you feel Jerious (Norwood) should have gotten the ball a little bit earlier in the 3rd quarter?
"You have to be fair to the other running backs. Were the same holes there for them as they were for Jerious? That is something that sometimes you don't see."
Did Jerious play well enough to deserve a start this week?
"What formation we start in will determine who starts."
Why do you believe the defense is playing better?
"I think that comes from playing together. I think that is because of Josh (Morgan) being the strong safety, and (Michael) Gholar and Darren (Williams) playing. Then, you look at the guys up front. The 11 guys have played together for more than one game. That helps."
Talk about the offense.
"If we could have stayed healthy in the offensive line, I think we would have made a lot of progress. Now, we are playing people who are playing together for the first time. With offensive linemen, you have to fit together almost every blocking scheme that you run. If they don't fit together, the chance of being able to block lessens greatly. We are probably the weakness (offensive line) where Alabama is the strongest (defensive line)."
What do you have to do to have a chance against Alabama?
"You have a chance every Saturday. However, to be consistently productive, you have to call the right play at the right time. That is the first thing. The second thing is you have to make sure you put the right hats on the right people to be productive offensively. And you have to make plays. Last year Dicenzo (Miller) made two big plays. Dontae (Walker) played well against them last year. I think Terrell (Grindle) made one big play. To (beat) Alabama, you have to make big plays. I don't think anybody has been able to take the ball and go bang, bang, bang against Alabama. When your opportunity comes against Alabama, you have to be successful. You don't want to be 3rd and 12 or 3rd and 18 against Alabama."
Have you ever had a season where you have had so many players injured on the offensive line?
"I've never had a season with this many injuries, period. I've gone through seasons where the same 11 started all the way through. Of course, we were fighting for the (national) championship and we ended up number 2 (in the nation). You have to be lucky and injury free unless you have tons of depth."
Do you feel Jerious Norwood needs to do a better job at pass protection?
"That is something that you don't learn overnight. Some of our good football players, even in the past, didn't learn it overnight. The running back has to make so many reaction calls. At times they will have double reads. At times they will have to break their fake and come off and block a rusher. They have to kind of know where everybody is coming from. You can only (learn) that through experience."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.