No. 18 MSU eager for challenge to face No. 1 Alabama


Brett Hudson



STARKVILLE -- Joe Moorhead's Monday press conferences start with a well-researched dissertation on the upcoming opponent, always complete with coach names, key players and statistics of note. He did the same for this week's opponent, but this one came with a caveat. 


"I don't think there's enough time in the press conference or ink in the printer to go through all of his superlatives," Moorhead said of Nick Saban. 


Moorhead and No. 18 Mississippi State (6-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) are well aware of the challenge that awaits in the top-ranked Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC), but it is not a challenge they plan on attacking differently from the ones before it. 


"We talk all the time in our building about the term championship standard, and quite frankly, this is what we're chasing. Alabama is the gold standard in this league," Moorhead said. "I told the team (Sunday) night, no one falls to the top of the mountain. These guys work their tail off and earned the right to be there; it's our job to get up there and knock them off. 


"Just because this week is Alabama, we're not going to say we need to crank it up because it's Alabama, but we have to have a heightened awareness that the margin for error is negligible. We're going to need great urgency, great precision and great practice." 


Of course, the recent history -- Alabama's 10-game win streak and 31 of the last 37 -- makes the task seem more Herculean, but none of it is of concern for Moorhead. His only context is that of 2018, and that was enough to tell him one thing. 


"You don't have to play a perfect game, but you have to be darn near close. You have to be in that range," he said. 




Coaching connections 


The previous two seasons of Penn State's offense were so good, it landed three coaches jobs in the SEC West. 


Two of them are at MSU, Moorhead as the head coach and Charles Huff as the running backs coach/run game coordinator. The other is Josh Gattis, who now coaches wide receivers at Alabama after doing the same for Penn State. 


"I think Josh is a rising star in this profession, I think he's going to be a head coach in a short amount of time," Moorhead said. "He's an expert in the fundamentals, someone who really harps on the small details and the craft of route-running. I think he does a good job of connecting with his players and getting them to play hard for him, and his track record as a recruiter speaks for itself. I have the utmost respect for Josh professionally and personally, he's a good friend of mind, awesome family, awesome wife and kids." 




Injury update 


The good news from the Louisiana Tech game has since been matched. MSU had three players on the injury report leading into that game and all three of them played; two have since been removed, but three have been added. 


Moorhead did not mention wide receiver Keith Mixon and defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett in discussion injuries but did mention running back Kylin Hill, who he said the team is, "feeling really good about him," playing against Alabama. 


Moorhead also added wide receiver Osirus Mitchell (day-to-day, upper body), linebacker Sh'mar Kilby-Lane (day-to-day, lower body) and defensive back Jaquarius Landrews (day-to-day, lower body). Landrews is particularly important given Brian Cole is already out for the season at that position, with Landrews and West Point native Marcus Murphy replacing him. 




Senior morning 


MSU's final home game of the season, against Arkansas, will kick off at 11 a.m. on a network to be determined, the SEC announced Monday. It is MSU's first morning home game of the season; it played at 11 a.m. against Kansas State. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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