Alabama vs. Middle Tennessee State Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 2 Alabama (1-0) vs. Middle Tennessee State (1-0)
When: Saturday, Sept. 12 at 3 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Local weather on gameday: High of 79 degrees with 62 percent humidity and a 20 percent of precipitation. Winds moving NNW at 13 mph.
TV: SEC Network (Play-by-play: Tom Hart, color analyst: Andre Ware, sideline reporter: Laura Rutledge)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart).
Spread: Alabama (-35½-36), according to Danny Sheridan.
Last Meeting: The Crimson Tide came away with a 26-7 win on Sept. 3, 2005 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Series History: Alabama leads the series, 2-0. In the first-ever meeting, on Aug. 31, 2002, the Crimson Tide held off a Blue Raiders fourth-quarter rally to win, 39-34, in its second-to-last game played at Legion Field.
The Crimson Tide had little trouble against then-No. 20 Wisconsin, defeating the Badgers, 35-17, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Jake Coker received the nod as the team’s starting quarterback and took the majority of the reps, but Cooper Bateman played as well in the latter stages of the game.
But running back Derrick Henry carried the load for Alabama, scoring three touchdowns with 147 yards on 13 carries. Henry’s scoring plays came on runs of 37, 56 and 2.
Kenyan Drake, the team’s most versatile offensive playmaker, had 125 all-purpose yards on offense (77 rushing on 10 carries, 48 receiving on two receptions) and a 43-yard touchdown run.
Alabama led 14-7 at halftime, before pulling ahead in the third quarter.
Wisconsin, which averaged 320.14 rushing yards per game last season, rushed for only 40 against the Crimson Tide.
Middle Tennessee State
The Blue Raiders wasted no time in kicking off their season in a big way.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill, son of Blue Raiders coach, Rick, completed 23-of-29 passes for 336 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in his first career start.
Jackson State trailed by only seven at 21-14 with 8:11 left in the half, but MTSU went on to score 49 unanswered points to close out the game.
Only Ole Miss (76 points) and Cal (73) scored more points than the Blue Raiders in Week 1.
Running back Shane Tucker gained 106 yards of offense, including a 12-yard touchdown reception. Wide receiver Ed’Marques Batties caught eight passes for 123 yards and two scores.
Keep an eye on:
Marlon Humphrey, cornerback: As Cyrus Jones put it, “they’ll get more comfortable as they get more reps.” In nonconference games, that’s usually the best time to get it. Humphrey was one of the young, inexperienced players Jones was referencing this week, not that he did poorly against Wisconsin, but because he has room for improvement. Humphrey, in his first career start after redshirting last season as a freshman, was the culprit on a pass interference call and the victim of Wisconsin’s marginal success passing. Considering that the team was unable to lock down the second corner spot opposite of Jones last season, though, Humphrey will need to pick up as much as he can early.
Damien Harris, running back: Because Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake will likely be pulled from the game well before it’s reached its conclusion, Harris, the next player up, should see plenty of chances to showcase his abilities. The former five-star true freshman carried the ball nine times for 23 yards against Wisconsin, but those numbers should only go up against weaker competition, especially when Alabama mainly attempts to run out the clock through most of the second half. If anything, Harris will gain needed experience to provide better relief for Henry and Drake as the season progresses.
Kevin Byard, safety: If there’s any MTSU player who can match pound-for-pound with the best of them, it’s Byard. Over the last three seasons, the redshirt senior has complied 246 tackles, 15 interceptions – four returned for touchdowns – and five forced fumbles. Asked this week about Byard, Saban described the 5-foot-11, 207-pound safety, who is projected as a second- to fourth-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft according to Walter Football, as a “really good player,” who is “definitely a playmaker” and “involved in a lot of plays.”
Ed’Marques Batties, wide receiver: After Alabama shutdown Wisconsin’s dominate rushing attack, it’s hard to imagine MTSU will fare much better. But Batties, as a factor in the passing game, could. While the Alabama secondary didn’t perform poorly against the Badgers, it was still the weaker link defensively last Saturday. Batties, a senior, who already gained a fourth of his production from last season against Jackson State in Week 1, will have the greatest chance to cause issues for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide has no major injuries to report this week.
Middle Tennessee State
- Both sophomore safety Nick Beasley and redshirt junior offensive lineman Adam Stickel, who was expected to compete for a starting job, had career-ending knee injuries prior to the start of the season.