Sound Off: Who is the player Alabama can least afford to lose?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team is down to its final three games of the regular season, but two of the upcoming opponents are ranked and both games will be on the road.

Still undefeated, the Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0 SEC) remain cautiously optimist, but there’s also a feeling of disappointment surrounding the program because injury issues and not playing especially well during the 24-10 victory over LSU.

“We’ve got to get ready to play another top-25 team,” Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts said.

Next up is Mississippi State, which Alabama hasn’t lost to during Dan Mullen era (2009). However, the Bulldogs are 7-2 overall (3-2 SEC), and defeated LSU early in the season 37-7.

“Dan has done a really good job there in the years that he’s been there,” Nick Saban said. “Great offensive coach. Always presents a lot of issues and problems for the defense to adjust to. Nick Fitzgerald has done a really, really good job at quarterback. Kind of a really good passer, but a great runner. Big, physical strong guy. They use him both ways. They’ve been very consistent in their run-pass and mix of what they do and how they do it.

“Their defense has shown tremendous improvement. Todd Grantham is the new defensive coordinator there and they’ve really done well this year. They’re one of the top-ranked defensive teams in the country. They’re really solid on special teams. They’re highly-ranked in almost every category in the SEC in special teams and their specialists have done a really good job for them at kicker and punter. This is all-around a really good team and a really challenging place to play, and our players need to be ready to respond to it the right way.”

In this week’s Sound Off, presented by Zaxby’s, SEC Country’s Marq Burnett and Christopher Walsh discuss Saturday’s matchup (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Starkville and the state of the Crimson Tide as the playoff pressure continues to rise.

The great debate: Who is the player Alabama can least afford to lose?

Some timestamps to help guide you:

  • Marq and Christopher start off with their takeaways from the 24-10 victory against LSU. Marq never felt like the eventual outcome in doubt (0:25) and questions the idea of the Tigers claiming a moral victory (1:10). Christopher gives Marq credit for one of his predictions last week (1:25), and talks a little bit about the challenge of playing such contrasting teams in subsequent games (2:15).
  • At the beginning of the season, Marq and Christopher felt that the player Alabama could least afford to lose was Minkah Fitzpatrick (2:45). So who is it now? Marq picks someone else, a player he feels is performing better than the numbers indicate (3:00). Christopher feels there are actually three strong answers to the answer, especially considering the Crimson Tide’s sudden depth concerns at one position (4:10). Marq offers a fourth name who shouldn’t be overlooked (5:15).
  • Marq touches on how the loss of interior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton for the second straight year is a lot bigger than most people realize (5:40).
  • Christopher comes back with a player who has been a big surprise statistically, and coming into his own (6:40). Marq doesn’t think he’s necessarily the best surprise on the Crimson Tide, but likes what he sees (7:00). They both also come up with a possible new nickname for Alabama’s latest “Mon-star.”
  • Marq touches upon his offensive-line story and what the Crimson Tide needs to do get back on track (8:45).
  • Marq and Christopher touch upon the key to this week’s game at Mississippi State (10:00). Marq doesn’t think the Bulldogs are as good as a couple of years ago under Dak Prescott, but he defense is better, while Christopher predicts a big bounce-back for one area for the Crimson Tide (10:40)

Check back at SEC Country all week for everything you need to know about Alabama football.

The post Sound Off: Who is the player Alabama can least afford to lose? appeared first on SEC Country.

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