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Alabama 28, Miss. State 14: Postgame Notes and Quotes


Saturday, November 09, 2002

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*Alabama's 28-14 win over Miss. State gives the Crimson Tide a 12-2 record in its last 14 games dating back to last season.  In addition, Alabama improves to 5-1 in the SEC this season and has won seven of its last eight conference games dating back to last season.

*The win over Miss. State gives Alabama a four-game winning streak, which equals the longest winning streak under Coach Fran.  The four-game winning streak is the longest of the 2002 season and matches the four-game winning streak to close out Fran's first season (2001) at Alabama.  UA's four-game winning streak last season came against Miss. State, Auburn, Southern Miss and Iowa State.  The four-game winning streak this year includes wins over Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Miss. State.

*Alabama has also won four straight SEC games, its longest conference winning streak since beating LSU, Miss. State, Auburn and Florida (SEC Championship Game) during the 1999 season.  The last time Alabama won four consecutive regular season SEC games came against Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss to open the 1999 season.  UA won eight of nine SEC games and its 21st league title in 1999.

*Alabama now holds a 69-15-3 series lead with Miss. State, dating back to the first meeting in 1896.  The Crimson Tide has posted a 40-5 record in the last 45 meetings with MSU, including a two-game winning streak.  In games played in the state of Alabama, the Crimson Tide holds a 44-9-2 series lead.  Alabama also leads 37-7-1 in games played here in Tuscaloosa. UA has won the last three games in Tuscaloosa.

*The Crimson Tide is 4-1 at home this season, equaling the number of wins at Bryant-Denny Stadium over the last two seasons.  The Crimson Tide was 2-3 (.400) at home last year and posted a 2-2 (.500) home record in 2000.  The Crimson Tide had 409 yards total offense today, missing its season average in home games by just 10 yards (419.6 avg).

*The Alabama-Miss. State was not televised today, marking the first time since the 1995 season that an Alabama game was not broadcast on live television.  The last Alabama not on live television was a 23-9 win at Ole Miss on Oct. 21, 1995.  The last time an Alabama-Miss. State was not televised was Oct. 29, 1988 when David Casteal scored four TDs in a 53-34 win at Scott Field in Starkville.

*Alabama scored on its opening possession for the eighth time in 10 games this season when senior QB Tyler Watts threw a 15-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Triandos Luke.  The 15-yard TD pass capped a 12-play, 80 drive for the Crimson Tide.  Alabama has scored on its opening possession against Middle Tennessee (TD), Oklahoma (FG), North Texas (FG), Southern Miss (TD), Arkansas (TD), Ole Miss (TD) and Vanderbilt (TD).  The Crimson Tide did not score on its opening possession against Georgia and Tennessee.

*Alabama also scored on its opening possession in the second half, marking the sixth time this season UA has scored on the first drive of the second half.  UA also scored against Oklahoma (TD), Arkansas (FG), Ole Miss (TD), Tennessee (FG), Vanderbilt (TD) and Miss. State (TD).

*In 10 games this year, Alabama has scored on the opening possession in both halves against Oklahoma,. Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Miss. State.

*Senior quarterback Tyler Watts surpassed the 4,000-yard total offense mark in his career.  With 5:37 left in the first quarter, Watts ran seven yards to the Crimson Tide 15-yard line putting him over the 4,000 yard mark in his career.  Three plays later, Watts completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Clint Johnston, giving the senior quarterback 3,000 career passing yards. 

*Watts completed 16-of-22 passes for 223 yards and a career high three TDs in the MSU game.

*Watts three TDs surpassed his previous best was two TDs against LSU in 1999.

*Watts 223 passing yards fell 13 yards short of his career high (236 yards) set in the 2002 season opener against Miss. State

*Watts also added 14 rushing attempts for 27 yards in the win over MSU

*Watts was 7-of-8 passing for 98 yards and two TDs in the first quarter.

*Watts was 3-of-3 passing for 56 yards and one TD on UA's second scoring drive of the game.

*Against Vanderbilt (7-of-8, 68 yards) and Miss. State (7-of-8, 98 yards, 2 TDs), Watts has completed 14-of-16 passes for 166 yards and two TDs in the first quarter of the last two games.

*In his career, Wats has completed 254-of-426 (.000) for 3,156 yards and 18 TDs.

*On the ground, Watts has 260 rushing attempts for 1,035 yards and eight TDs.

*In his career, Watts has accounted for 4,191 yards of total offense, the 7th highest total in school history.  Against MSU, Watts surpassed Jeff Rutledge (1975-78, 3,899 total yards) and Mike Shula (1983-86, 4,151 total yards).

*For the second week in a row, junior wide receiver Triandos Luke recorded 100 receiving yards for the Crimson Tide.  Against MSU, Luke had seven catches for 128 yards and a career high two TDs.  Luke had nine catches for 102 yards in last week's 30-8 win at Vanderbilt.

*In his last two games, Luke has 16 pass receptions for 230 yards and two TDs.

*Luke is the first Alabama player to record back-to-back 100 yard receiving games since Freddie Milons had three in a row against Arkansas, Florida and Ole Miss in 1999.

*Luke can join Milons as the only receiver in UA history to post three straight 100 yards games if he can turn the trick again next Saturday at LSU.

*Prior to Milons feat in 1999, Ozzie Newsome was the last UA receiver to post back-to-back 100 yards games against Miami (4-106) and Auburn (4-123-1) in 1977.

*Sophomore A-Back Ray Hudson (Bonifay, Fla.) scored the first touchdown of his Alabama career, hauling in a 32-yard pass from Watts to give the Crimson Tide a 14-3 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter. 

*Senior cornerback Hirchel Bolden recorded his first career interception when he picked off a Kevin Fant pass at the Alabama 35-yard line with 3:05 left in the third quarter.  Bolden's interception gives Alabama at least one forced turnover in 15 straight games dating back to last year.   

*Junior free safety Charles Jones added his second interception of the season as he picked off an MSU pass at the Alabama 39-yard line late in the fourth quarter.  Jones recorded a 30-yard interception return, allowing Alabama to run out the clock and preserve its 14-point lead.

*The Crimson Tide was penalized 12 times for 121 yards, twice the number of penalties and yards assessed against Miss. State.  The Bulldogs were flagged only six times for 61 yards in the loss to Alabama.  The penalties and yards against Miss. State were the second-most against Alabama this year.  The Crimson Tide was penalized a school-record 16 times for 126 yards in the season opener against Middle Tennessee.

*Alabama was 2-for-2 in the red zone today against Miss. State and is 14-for-15 in the red zone in its last four games, scoring 78 points.

*Alabama scored on its first three possessions against MSU, scoring 21 points.  The three UA scoring drives totaled 28 plays and 241 yards of total offense.

*Alabama's offense recorded seven first downs in its first 14 plays from scrimmage and collected 10 first downs in its first 20 plays.



Alabama now leads the series with MSU 68-16-3, 37-8-1 in Tuscaloosa. 


The Bulldogs are 60-17-1 (.776) under Jackie Sherrill when outrushing their opponent, and now 13-45-1 (.229) when not.

MSU is 41-9 (.820) under Jackie Sherrill when scoring 25 or more points, 25-4 (.862) since 1996...

The Dogs are now just 31-53-2 (.372) during that same span when they haven't posted 25 or more points.

Since 1994, MSU is 36-7 (.837) when recording more takeaways than its opponent...The 'Dogs are now 8-28 (.222) during the same span when posting fewer takeways.

Over the last five seasons (1997-02, 68 games), MSU is now 32-12 (.727) when rushing for 100-plus yards...Conversely, the 'Dogs are just 7-17 (.292) when failing to run for 100 yards.

State is 55-13-2 (.800) under Jackie Sherrill when leading at halftime, 4-6 (.400) when tied, and now 14-43-0 (.246) when trailing at the intermission.

Since the beginning of the 1997 season, the Bulldogs are now 15-4 (.790) when scoring on their first offensive possession of the game (TD or FG).


With his three pass receptions in the game, SE Terrell Grindle has now hauled in at least one pass in 23 consecutive games and has caught two or more passes in 17 consecutive contests.           

With his four pass receptions in the game, FL Justin Jenkins has now hauled in at least one pass in 17 of his last 18 games played...The lone game he did not make a reception during that streak was at South Carolina this season when he was injured early in the game.

True freshman TB Jerious Norwood had a solid outing off the bench for the third-straight game with 58 yards on nine carries this afternoon...Norwood has rushed 33 times for 263 yards (8.0 yards-per-carry and 87.7 yards-per game averages) in State's last three outings...That includes a career-high 138 yards on 15 carries vs. Kentucky last week.

With his one TD pass in the game, QB Kevin Fant moved into sole possession of eighth place all-time at MSU with 17 passing TDs...He surpassed Matt Wyatt (16; 1996-99) on that list. Fant's 19 pass completions in the game moved him up to seventh place on that list with 231, surpassing Matt Wyatt (212; 1996-99).

With his 19 yards rushing today, TB Dontae Walker moved into ninth place on MSU's career rushing chart...Now with 1,870 career rushing yards, he surpassed Don Smith (1,868; 1983-86) and Wayne Jones (1,865; 1971-73) on that list.

By hitting 2-of-2 field goal attempts today, PK Brent Smith has now connected on nine of his last 11 three-point tries since starting the year 2-of-4.

With nine tackles in today's game LB Mario Haggan moved into ninth place on State's career stops list...Now with 342 career   tackles, he surpassed Daniel Boyd (335; 1990-92) on that list. 

With four receptions in the game, TE Donald Lee tied a career high for catches in a single game.

MSU's blocked punt in the fourth quarter (the first of Kevin Dockery's career) marked State's first blocked punt since last year's season opener vs. Memphis when Curtis Stowers blocked a Tiger punt and Nathan Jackson returned it for a touchdown.

OG Johnny Wadley made his first career start today...He and FB Darnell Jones, who started today for the first time this year, became the 40th and 41st different starters MSU has utilized on the offensive and defensive units this season.


Today's 28-14 score marked the largest margin of victory Alabama has had over a Jackie Sherrill-coached MSU team. 

Alabama vs. Mississippi State
November 9, 2002
Head Coach Dennis Franchione  

"We had way too many penalties today. We know we have to deal with that and correct it as best as we can."

"In the second half the defense came out and shut them out. They played well."

"Lane (Bearden) came up big at the end of the game when we really needed him."

When asked about Bearden's knee "I'm always concerned with Lane Bearden."

"Tyler Watts has played some gritty, hard-nosed football since I have been here. I don't know if this was his best game, but it was right up there. He made some great throws today. He played the way a fifth year senior should play."

"Triandos Luke is a very capable player. He has made some big plays in the past two games. He's stepping up and making plays when we need him."

"You have to respect and admire Hirchel Bolden for continuing to fight."

"Those guys (Mississippi State) have good athletes. We knew this was going to be a hard nose football game coming into it. (Jackie) Sherrill had them ready to play."

"We did some things we shouldn't have done. The defense felt like they could have played better."

Alabama Player Quotes 

Tyler Watts:

"We came out good, we were playing smart. We played smart all day long. We didn't make any costly mistakes as far as turnovers which is always a positive. You always have a chance to win when you're not turning the ball over. We hurt ourselves several times with penalties. That's something we need to work on. We are picking up first downs and they are getting called back."

"Our defense gave us a boost in the second half. "

Antwan Odom:

"We were down a little bit in the first half but we came in the second half and played like we were supposed to play. Mississippi State's line was real physical. They were big. They were averaging three (300 pounds) on the offensive line. They're big."

"In the second half we took control of the game. We dominated like we are supposed to. And that was a big part of the second half, shutting their offense down."

Hirchel Bolden:

"It was really one of my better games. I was going out there to play. I had a dream about it (the interception). I kept telling everybody that I picked off the ball but nobody wanted to believe it. I told my defensive coach I had a dream about picking the ball off. I just played within myself and I had a great day."

On play of the secondary:

"We are all playing on the same page right now. We go out, we communicate, and if something does happen, we all go on the sideline and get the problem fixed. We all believe in each other. When one person gets down, we all bring him back up. I had a down time earlier this year. I kept on fighting through it and waited for my time."

Mississippi State Head Coach Jackie Sherrill 

"Alabama is a very good football team. They're very good up front and defensively. They've got a lot of speed in their defense, linebackers and secondary. Offensively they make you play the whole field. I would say were they are not the Alabama team of the past is in the kicking game."

"They're not as good in the kicking game as they are offensively or defensively."

"It was really probably an offensive game the first half. Each team just took the ball downfield 80 yards, 79 yards. Each team ran an awful lot of plays."

"What you did today, the good thing is the players played hard and never gave up and that is probably the most productive thing (MSU did today)."

"I think we certainly improved in the kicking game. I thought we improved defensively in certain things. I thought the offensive line played well at times."

On adjustments made at halftime:

"We made a lot of adjustments on being able to stop the option. However we didn't execute and we didn't throw and catch. They fought really hard. Certainly you don't like to get beat. When you play like this you have a lot to be proud  of and be thankful for."

"You've got to give their punter (Lane Bearden) a lot of credit. You've got to question, with a torn ACL, how much more do you want to do to it."

Mississippi State Player Quotes 

#3 Dontae Walker- "We came out playing and we were not gonna let down. We have gotta finish the game. The offense will play good one half and the defense will play good one half. We just can't put the two together."

"That is the best defense we have played yet. We give Alabama all the credit. They will have some guys playing on Sundays."

#18 Brett Morgan- "We knew what they would bring coming into the game. They would run a lot of wheel routes and the option."

(On Tennessee)- "I know they are a physical team. We need to get a full week of practice in to get ready. We know they will run the ball and if the quarterback is healthy he will give us some trouble."

"It hurts. We weren't really thinking about a bowl game, but it was in the back of our minds. In a game like this we had so many chances and didn't capitalize."

"They do a good job of mixing things up. Both lines are very good. You don't see lines like that often, especially on the same team. They are a well disciplined team and the best team we have played so far."

#20 Michael Gholar- "We didn't know if was going to be the option or the option pass. We did a better job of defending it in the second half."

"In this league you play good teams. You got to keep going. You can't let three or four plays get you down because you have a tough game the next week."

"We prepared for the option; we just had a lot of other things to prepare for."

"We try to come out every game and play hard and not let things from the past weeks let us down. We know we strong and athletic, we just need to keep working hard."

#16 Kevin Fant- "Special teams gave us a chance at the end. We just did not make the plays."

"Their defensive line dictates what is going to happen. They have a great defensive line and outside linebackers. Most of their defensive line will go pro."

(On 4th downs in 2nd half)- "It kills. We get the ball down in the red zone with enough time on the clock to come back, and can't get it in the end zone."