November 7, 2018 7:11:13 AM
Terrin Waack is part of the excellent Tuscaloosa News team covering all things Crimson Tide. You can follow her on Twitter, @terrinvictoria -- you're already following one product of the University of Alabama's journalism school, why not another one?
1) Mississippi State's defensive front is its strength, and I imagine it is their best chance at making Alabama's offense work for it. What's the weak spot on Alabama's offensive line?
I actually just wrote about Alabama's offensive line on Monday, and it doesn't look like there is a weak spot right now. Left guard Deonte Brown is a relatively new starter. He took over the job against Tennessee, so the last two games. Before him was Lester Cotton Sr. Still, the Crimson Tide has allowed the fewest sacks in the SEC with just six. I know the Bulldogs are third in the conference when it comes to sacks, though. They've made 23. So, it's definitely going to be a battle in the trenches.
2) Inexperience in the secondary was supposed to be a concern for Alabama's defense. How has that played out?
Inexperience is a concern almost every year just because of the turnover in Alabama's program. Nick Saban prepares for that. He builds depth. There were communication issues at the start of the season, but the secondary has figured that out and Deionte Thompson has become more of a vocal leader. Alabama did lose Trevon Diggs to an injury, but Saivion Smith filled the void and has been playing well. There's that depth coming into play. Also, the secondary is basically Saban's baby. He works with the defensive backs individually a lot, or at least that's who he's always with during the media-viewing portion of practice.
3) Who is Alabama's second-best defender behind Quinnen Williams?
Going beyond the line here, I'm going to say defensive back Deionte Thompson. He's a big reason the secondary didn't take a huge step backward this season. Thompson might not have been considered a season-long starter last year, but he did start the two College Football Playoffs games. He gave the secondary the leadership it needed. When there were communication problems, he owned up to it being his fault and made sure to fix them. And he leads the team in total tackles at 51. He has also broken up five passes, made two interceptions and forced two fumbles.
4) S&P+ projected this team as better than any of Nick Saban's national championship teams before it. Your thoughts?
It's definitely up there, that's for sure. Tua Tagovailoa takes Alabama's offense to a whole new level. He's breaking records left and right. And the defense has been improving. The shutout against LSU is proof of that. Of course, it depends how the season ends. But this year's team is already one of Nick Saban's best.
5) Most impressive thing you've seen Tua do. Go.
Besides winning the national championship game in overtime as a true freshman? Well, he has proven time and time again he can make incredible throws, so deep passes have become a norm. I was really impressed with his 44-yard touchdown run against LSU. That's a long distance for anyone to run into the end zone, but he has also been recovering from a knee injury. He said afterward he felt his knee like 14 yards into the run but kept going due to momentum and beat out multiple LSU defenders. That was impressive.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson