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Special Teams Need to Make Big Plays Against Alabama

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Fred Ross and Brandon Holloway can aid MSU's offense in a major way.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Points may be hard to come by for Mississippi State against Alabama's suffocating defense. Winning the battle for field position will be a must, and the easiest way to make that happen is for MSU's returners to do some damage on special teams.

The most likely candidates to deliver that damage are Fred Ross and Brandon Holloway, who each have returned a punt or kick for a touchdown this season.

The problem is that Alabama's special teams coverage units are among the best in the league. The only player to return a punt for a touchdown against the Tide was the electric Christian Kirk from Texas A&M.

Holloway and Ross don't have to find the end zone (although that would be a huge bonus). They just need to find a crease a couple of times and set up Dak and the offense with good field position, much like Holloway did last week against Missouri.

It's a challenge for any offense in college football to drive the length of the field against Bama. MSU's offense is at its best when it scores quickly. Over 55 percent of their scoring drives have spanned less than two minutes.

That won't be the case against Bama. The big plays won't be there for the taking as often as they were against the other defenses MSU has faced, and they'll be forced to grind out drives.

Holloway and Ross can counter that with their explosiveness in the return game, and Dak and the receivers have to make Alabama pay when that happens.