From the moment Missouri was officially welcomed into the Southeastern Conference to SEC Media Days and beyond, a great deal of the on-field talk surrounding the Tigers has been centered on quarterback James Franklin. Without Franklin for at least the Alabama game, many view the Tigers as a team that is scrambling for offensive playmakers.
The chatter completely overlooks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who is in the top three on the team in tackles, tackles for loss and yards lost on tackles for loss. Richardson also has seven quarterback hurries on the season, the only Tiger to have more than two, and is the only Tiger to have both forced and recovered a fumble this season.
“He plays really hard which I really respect,” center Barrett Jones said. “He plays with a lot of intensity and passion. I think he’s definitely going to be bringing his best. So we’re excited to have the opportunity to face a good opponent like him. I think he definitely presents some challenges.”
Richardson is especially dangerous in Missouri’s defense, which likes to use stunts and other defensive line tricks to confuse opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks.
“They’ve been able to create a lot of negative plays this year and that’s a big reason because of how much movement they have up front,” Jones said. “They really have created confusion in their prior games.”
“I think they’re a really hard team to game plan for. We really have had to work hard this week mentally and watch a lot of film and just prepare because they do a lot of different things on defense.”
Jones believes the Tide has an advantage in preparing for this type of defensive scheme.
“The good news in all that is we play against a defense every day that does a lot of different things,” he said. “That enables us to prepare for teams like this that show a variety of looks.”
Head coach Nick Saban made waves throughout the country in the SEC teleconference after Alabama’s 33-14 win over Ole Miss with a not-so-subtle jab against the no-huddle offenses that were perfected at Oregon and West Virginia and have now penetrated the SEC with Ole Miss and Missouri.
“You have to come out there and set the tone, no matter what they’re trying to do,” defensive end Damion Square said. “As the defense, your objective is to come out and set the tone. If you do that, you control the outcome of the game.”
Alabama is hoping to use its experience against Ole Miss, and other no-huddle offenses in the past, to have success against the Tigers.
“You know we play against no-huddle all the time, and I think it’s just a part of the world that we live in now,” Saban said. “I think the more you play against it the more your players sort of develop a conscious awareness of how they need to focus and what they need to do to play that pace in the game.
“Certainly playing against a team that was no-huddle should be a benefit to our players when we play the next no-huddle team. I think we’re going to see it a few more times before it’s all over too, so hopefully we’ll continue to improve and progress.”
Belue is back
Junior college transfer cornerback Deion Belue was inactive for some of the bye week, having been spotted in a noncontact black jersey on the exercise bike at one point.
Saban expressed the utmost confidence in Belue’s recovery from his shoulder injury.
“”He’s done great,” Saban said. “Taken all the reps.”