Alabama head coach Nick Saban stated on Monday that their upcoming road game against Mississippi State this Saturday may pose a more formidable challenge than their previous two matchups.
Two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide narrowly secured a 17-3 victory on the road against USF, a game marked by offensive struggles.
Last Saturday, Alabama hosted Ole Miss, who were then ranked 15th, and managed to pull away in the second half for a 24-10 win.
However, unranked Mississippi State (2-2, 0-2) has given Saban reason to pause and consider them a significant challenge.
“In my opinion, this presents a more substantial challenge for us compared to our last two games. This team is highly physical and exhibits aggressive defense, creating numerous negative plays. They boast a wealth of returning starters who are well-versed in their system and scheme,” Saban remarked.
Among these returning starters is quarterback Will Rogers, who ranks second in the SEC for career passing yards, having thrown for 979 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
“While the quarterback has consistently demonstrated his prowess, their new offensive approach introduces a greater sense of balance,” Saban acknowledged.
First-year offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay has prominently featured multiple running backs this season, with Jo’Quavious Marks leading the ground game with 352 yards and four touchdowns.
Saban also highlighted leading receiver Lideatrick Griffin, who has accumulated three touchdowns this season.
“In summary, this is an exceptionally strong team,” Saban emphasized. “Playing on the road in the SEC presents a genuine challenge, and our players need to maintain focus and prepare meticulously.”
Saban underscored the need for Alabama to eliminate the mistakes that have led to stalled drives and nullified touchdowns due to penalties.
Additionally, during the press conference, Saban was asked about Mike Leach, the former Mississippi State coach who passed away in December due to heart complications. Leach, with a coaching career spanning 21 seasons at Mississippi State, Washington State, and Texas Tech, compiled a record of 158-107 and was known for pioneering the Air Raid offense and his candid nature.
“I had great admiration for Mike Leach,” Saban expressed. “He was unique, but in a positive way. He possessed a fantastic sense of humor and presented an offensive system and strategy that was distinctive and challenging, but he believed in it and did it his own way.”