Q&A With Bama Hammer


Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeAndrew White (2) celebrates with teammates offensive lineman Ryan Kelly (70) and tight end Brian Vogler (84) after catching a touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the overtime of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 20-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

1. The previous six years Alabama has won three West division titles, two SEC titles and three national titles with at least 10 wins each season (while beating MSU by an average of 22 PPG). Where do you think the 2014 team stacks up among those teams in the current Bama dynasty?

"As much as Alabama fans wish it weren’t so, Alabama is in the midst of a rebuilding year. It’s not a total overhaul, but replacing a quarterback, middle linebacker, a lot of your offensive line and a leader in the defensive backfield isn’t easy. That said, Alabama has made huge strides over the course of the season. This team is still in the hunt for a national championship at this point, and that’s a lot more than reasonable fans could hope for at this point."

2. This game is EVERYTHING to Mississippi State. We had our first top 5 match-up ever against Auburn earlier in the year, but this has the added dynamic that the winner will control their own destiny in the West with just two weeks left in the season. Alabama has played in so many big games, how would you describe how y’all are viewing this game?

"This game is in a lot of ways our entire season. The playoff committee has held Alabama out of the top four (deservedly or not) for as long as possible. A win over the top-ranked Bulldogs catapults the Tide into the final four, where – if they win out – they will remain. So for Alabama fans, it’s not playing Mississippi State that makes this game huge, it’s what playing the No. 1 team in the nation means for Alabama’s shot at championship No. 16."

3. Alabama has had the top recruiting class each of the last four years according to 247, while MSU has had an average rank of 29th. Do you believe Bama has superior talent and it’s just about playing a solid game, or do you believe MSU has been able to develop players who now have enough experience to match the Tide even if they play a good game?

"Recruiting rankings are a slippery thing, and Alabama has been the benefit, in my opinion, of some subjective ranking. It’s almost as if, ‘well, Alabama is recruiting them, so they must be a top recruit!’That said, Alabama has some amazingly talented players, and in many cases it is in fact a matter of doing their job and playing the game. That’s not to say MSU isn’t talented, particularly at the quarterback position. There are times when talent is enough to win. Most times, however, it’s execution that wins the game."

4. Alabama has seemed to struggle with really good duel-threat QBs, or at least not dominate them like they do others. Do you think Dak Prescott could present a lot of problems for Bama’s defense?

"Dak Prescott absolutely will present problems for Alabama. It’s going to be important for the Tide defense to get pressure on him and force him into bad decisions. Alabama’s defense has to play within themselves, and not get overwhelmed trying to do to many things. Kirby Smart needs to let the players play, instead of constantly checking the sidelines for the right formation and getting caught out of position."

5. Where do you see the Tide’s biggest advantage in this game?

"Alabama’s best chance for success is in exploiting MSU’s pass defense. The Bulldogs secondary probably isn’t as bad as the stats say, but Alabama needs to make them pay at every opportunity. Blake Sims will have to make plays and extend plays with his legs, and his receivers must make catches.If they can do all that, it opens up Alabama’s run game – assuming Lane Kiffin will run the dang ball."

6. Back in the summer you said this would not be a close game because MSU would be over-matched. Are you still sticking to that?

"I’m not sure many people expected Mississippi State to be this good. But Alabama has been unbelievable at home. I don’t expect a blowout, but if Alabama’s offense starts making plays early, I wouldn’t completely rule it out, either."