The Other Side: A preview of Mississippi State with The Reflector

Deana Nichols, Contributing Writer

The No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1) takes on another SEC rival in No. 24 Mississippi State, Saturday, Oct. 22, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide hopes to recover from their first loss of the season. The Crimson White sat down with The Reflector’s sports editor, Dylan Flippo, to discuss the matchup. 

Nichols: Alabama had its first loss of the season last Saturday against Tennessee. How are the Bulldogs going to capitalize on that?  

Flippo: “MSU must find ways to create explosive plays and take advantage of Alabama’s secondary. The Crimson Tide have allowed some big plays through the air against teams such as Arkansas and Tennessee — both of which have tremendously talented quarterbacks. Will Rogers has to step up and be confident in the pocket. If the Bulldogs can find ways to create explosive plays downfield, MSU may be able to hang around in the first half.” 

Nichols: The next three games are going to be tough matchups for the Bulldogs (Alabama, Georgia, and Ole Miss). How is the team preparing for these games?   

Flippo: “The Bulldogs are looking forward to that bye week. MSU has faced a tough stretch in recent weeks playing Texas A&M and Arkansas at home before traveling to Lexington and dropping that game to Kentucky. Now, the Bulldogs face the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. If you’re MSU, you must focus on one game at a time. You can’t get focused on losing streaks or rankings. After the loss against Kentucky, Bulldogs’ head coach Mike Leach stated that MSU can’t afford to be contempt, especially with such a grueling schedule.” 

Nichols: Who should we be watching out for in Saturday’s matchup? Who are going to be the big playmakers?  

Flippo: “We did not see much from MSU wideout Caleb Ducking in the loss against Kentucky, but you can expect Rogers to target him more against the Tide. Ducking has arguably grown to become Rogers’ favorite target and will be a key factor for the Bulldogs’ success on offense.” 

Nichols: During last week’s game, Will Rogers tied Dak Prescott’s record for the most touchdown passes in school history. How is he planning to beat that record on Saturday?  

Flippo: “If Rogers and the Air Raid offense want to have success against the Tide, it all starts up front. MSU’s offensive line must find ways to prevent Will Anderson from wreaking havoc on Rogers. If the offensive line provides enough time for Rogers to find his targets and the wideouts can create separation downfield against Alabama’s secondary, Rogers may very well break Dak Prescott’s record this weekend.” 

Nichols: The last time Mississippi State beat Alabama was in 2007 — Nick Saban’s first year as head coach. How is third-year head coach Mike Leach going into this game?   

Flippo: “Leach stated he’s not using the losing streak as motivation heading into the matchup against the Tide. ‘All that counts is what you do today and what you do next,’ Leach said. The game against Alabama gives the Bulldogs a chance to improve and show how talented they truly are. Leach has veterans on this team that will have to preach consistency and not fearing the Crimson Tide. If you want to beat Nick Saban, you cannot afford to go into to the game scared.” 

Nichols: Alabama struggled with penalties against Tennessee on Saturday. How can the Bulldogs use that to their advantage? 

Flippo: “While the Crimson Tide struggled with penalties, so did MSU. Before the Bulldogs can think about taking advantage of the penalties from Alabama, they must fix their inconsistencies – especially on defense.” 

Nichols: Coach Leach is known for his “air-raid” offense. How can we expect to see it against the Tide on Saturday? 

Flippo: “To be successful against Alabama, the Air Raid must find a way to create those explosive plays. The Alabama secondary has been the weakest point of the Crimson Tide in recent weeks, and the Bulldogs need to take advantage of that if they want to compete this weekend.” 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]