TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The University of Alabama football team started its preparation for the upcoming home game against Mississippi State with a two-hour practice on Tuesday in helmets and shoulder pads.
Alabama enters this weekend's contest against the Bulldogs with an undefeated 6-0 record at home this season. They are 12-1 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the last two seasons and 19-8 under head coach Mike Shula.
The Crimson Tide's punt return unit helped them defeat Florida International on homecoming last week with a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked punt. Javier Arenas returned a punt for 65 yards and a touchdown, the first punt return for a touchdown by an Alabama player since Shaud Williams took one back 73 yards in the 2003 season opener against South Florida. Forress Rayford blocked a punt in the second quarter to give the Crimson Tide a blocked punt in three straight games. Justin Woodall and Marcel Stamps also have blocked punts this season.
"If you go back and look at our history we have been an aggressive block team," said special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer. "I know sometimes another school gets a reputation for doing it but in the time we have been there I think we have blocked 13 balls, including field goals, extra points and punts. We call at least one or two a game and it is hit or miss. We have been a pretty impressive block team and it makes other teams change what they are doing in protection."
Alabama is not the only team in the SEC with a good punt return unit. They will try to stop Mississippi State's Derek Pegues who is ninth in the country with an average of 14.78 yards per return. Pegues is dangerous all over the field ranking 36th in the nation in kick returns, averaging 24.35 yards per return, and is tied for 29th with 0.44 interceptions per game. He leads the Bulldogs in all-purpose yards at 94.2 per game. He has intercepted four passes and returned two of those for touchdowns.
This weekend's game will mark the sixth televised game this season for the Crimson Tide. The game will be carried by Lincoln Financial Sports with kickoff scheduled for 11:30 a.m.