Coming off a home victory over LSU, top-ranked Alabama heads to Mississippi State this weekend with some questions to answer. Here are four of them:
1. How will Alabama’s linebackers play?
The Crimson Tide lost two more players in this position grouping – Shaun Dion Hamilton and Mack Wilson – to injury in the LSU game, and that’s on top of other injury losses earlier in the season. UA has more depth than probably any team in the country, but so many injuries in one area will take a toll. Alabama will need someone to step up to maintain its standard.
2. Can the Crimson Tide contain Nick Fitzgerald?
Mississippi State’s quarterback averages around 250 combined rushing and passing yards per game. He is a true dual threat who can make plays with his arm and with his legs. The Bulldogs will need a big game from their top playmaker, and Alabama will have to find a way to keep him in check.
3. What will the running game look like?
Alabama wasn’t able to control the line of scrimmage against LSU and never got any traction in the ground game. UA needs Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and the rest of the backs to move the chains and make explosive plays. For this to happen, blocking has to improve at the point of attack.
4. Which team wins time of possession?
Mississippi State ranks second in the SEC in time of possession, approaching 33 minutes per game. Alabama isn’t far behind, ranked fifth in the league at almost 32 minutes of possession per game. The team that can get off the field on third down will have a big advantage in this important statistic.