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October 24, 2012

Notebook: Tide looks for more at home

TUSCALOOSA | As impressive as the University of Alabama has been this season in outscoring seven opponents 287-58, it's performance at Bryant-Denny Stadium hasn't been quite as sharp as its play away from home.

The Crimson Tide will look to rectify that trend Saturday at Homecoming when it plays host to an undefeated Mississippi State team that UA coach Nick Saban has called the best opponent his team has faced this season.

"We haven't played our best football at home. We've really played our best football on the road, for whatever reasons. I've addressed that with the players," Saban said. "I'm hopeful that we'll have the kind of excitement and enthusiasm in the stadium that will help our players from an emotional standpoint and also make it difficult for them."

Away from home, UA has dispatched a highly-ranked Michigan team at a neutral site, 41-14, hammered Arkansas 52-0, and beat both Missouri and Tennessee handily. Games at Bryant-Denny Stadium haven't exactly been nail-biters, but UA struggled offensively at times in a 35-0 win over Western Kentucky, and played its closest game of the season against Ole Miss, 33-14. Against the Las Vegas point spread, Alabama is 4-0 away from home and 0-3 at BDS.

"I think there are a few more distractions at home than on the road, where it's kind of an us vs. them mentality," said center Barrett Jones. "... The cheers don't do as much for me, but I love the boos. I don't know. I don't know how that all factors in. Certainly, it seems, so far we haven't really played a complete home game. We're hoping to do that this game."

Alabama plays four of its last five games at home, including three in a row to finish the season against Texas A&M, Western Carolina and Auburn.

Trim for Williams
Nose guard Jesse Williams cut his own mohawk earlier this week, but left the back unshaved for a look that's ... well ... unique.

"I just decided to cut it. Pretty spur of the moment sort of thing," Williams said.

Williams said he's hopeful shaving the mohawk will make him stand out less, but he knows that's unlikely at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds.

"Unless I got rid of all of my tattoos and lost 200 pounds, I think it's going to be tough to hide for a while," he added. "I usually do something midway through the season just to mix it up. I was running out of ideas, so I decided to cut my hair."

Recruiting Steen
UA guard Anthony Steen is one of several Crimson Tide players from the state of Mississippi, and said he had some thoughts of signing with the Bulldogs as a prep recruit.

"They have a good team, good facility, closer to home," Steen sad. "But when I came over here and the coaches were explaining legacy around here and the process, it kind of just drew me in and that's when I decided to come here."

"I don't think there's a minus at all. It's all positive. You last longer throughout the year, you don't bang your body up as much. Whoever's coming in, the next person, they're just going to pick up where you left off." - Running back Eddie Lacy on the good and bad of Alabama's shared rushing load.

Jones has been named one of 15 scholar-athletes by the National Football Foundation as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded each year to the nation's top scholar in college football. Jones, the only three-time Academic All-American in the history of Alabama football, earned an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship from the NFF. ... UA had no serious injuries against Tennessee and Saban said all players (other than those with season-ending injuries) were available to practice this week.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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