Mississippi State lost five of its 10 on-field assistant coaches last season, going from year one to year two of the Joe Moorhead era.
Alabama was responsible for two of those five.
UA running backs coach Charles Huff and defensive line coach Brian Baker held the same positions last season at Mississippi State, and both make their return for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game in Starkville.
“Those guys are good coaches. They’re very enthusiastic, they have good relationships with the players, they’ve brought some good energy, new ideas, both very bright,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “I think they do a good job technique-wise of coaching their players on the field. We’re excited to have them on the staff and it’s very pleasing to me, the job they’ve done.”
Huff coached just one season in Starkville, following Moorhead from the Penn State staff when Moorhead got the head-coaching job at Mississippi State. Moorhead retained Baker from the Dan Mullen staff he inherited, so Baker coached three seasons in Starkville.
A 44-16 loss in the national championship game gives a program no shortage of motivational material for a long offseason. UA consolidated most of it into one concept, that of the Bama Factor and getting it back.
The conclusion was that teams did not fear Alabama anymore, and their job was regain the reputation that forced teams to fear it. Nine games into that quest, Saban recognized the challenges this season has presented in accomplishing that mission.
“I think that the players are certainly trying to do things the way we’d like to do them,” Saban said. “I think we’ve had a lot of adversity to overcome this season from a personnel standpoint, especially at critical positions, whether they’re signal caller positions on defense or whatever. We’ve had to play a lot of young players who they don’t even know what the Bama Factor is. They’re just learning how to do that.
“I think it’s different strokes for different folks. I think we have a lot of players on our team who have really done a great job of playing with discipline and playing with toughness and being able to sustain in games and all that, and we have a lot of young players that it’s been a little more challenging for. But we’re working with every individual day in and day out to try to get them to understand not only how you have to play in the game but how you have to prepare to get ready to play in the game so that you have the best opportunity to do that.”
Sarkisian up for award
UA offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was one of 41 assistant coaches nominated for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s best assistant coach.
The trophy, first awarded in 1996, has been awarded to an Alabama coach twice: Kirby Smart in 2009 and Mike Locksley last season.
Here’s a link to the practice report, which has been updated since Saban addressed the status of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after practice.