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Three things to watch for as Alabama takes on Middle Tennessee State

Don’t tell Alabama coach Nick Saban that the Tide’s game Saturday against Middle Tennessee State is a gimmie. Even though the Tide are a four touchdown favorite over the Blue Raiders, there are still plenty of things for Tide fans to pay attention to in this tune-up for SEC play. Saban did say of MTSU’s offense after all, “There’s a lot of similarities to sort of the Ole Miss, Auburn type.”

  1. The Secondary

While the Tide secondary was good against Wisconsin in the second half when Bama was up and pretty much knew Wisconsin needed to pass, in the first half Wisconsin QB Joel Stave was 14 of 16 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown. Stave was able to hit a few passes for over fifteen yards as well and looked pretty good doing it at times.

The secondary features some very young stars in Fitzpatrick and Humphrey and MTSU loves to pass the football. In their week one win MTSU ran 95 plays in a 70-14 win and featured numerous four wide sets while passing the ball 34 times. The Tide defense will be tested by MTSU’s up-tempo offense in what Saban views as an offensive preview of Alabama’s SEC slate. It would be good to see the Tide’s young stars have a nice game.

2. Consistency on special teams

Adam Griffith needs a good game. JK Scott needs a good game. This is the game to gain back the confidence Bama’s kickers will need before Alabama’s SEC gauntlet begins.

3. Of course, the quarterback

Jake Coker had a quality start for the Tide against Wisconsin and Cooper Bateman looked good during his limited playing time. Saban has insinuated he still views this as a two player race to play quarterback and expects to use Coker and Bateman against MTSU. It will be interesting to see just how much time Bateman gets under center and what he does with it. Will Coker lock the job down? Will Bateman cement a role in the offense? These are things the Tide want to know before Ole Miss, not after.

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