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Opponent preview: Alabama’s special teams

Alabama finally has a reliable kicker.

Alabama v Missouri Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/ Getty Images

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State football will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for a Halloween showdown with the No. 2 Crimson Tide on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Historically, kicking woes have haunted the Alabama football program. However, it would appear that the tide has turned for Alabama.

Sophomore kicker Will Reichard is a perfect 6 of 6 on field goal attempts this year. His longest field goal, a 52-yarder, came in Week 4 during a 41-24 win over the then-No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs. He has also made all 32 of his extra-point attempts.

Punting is one of the weaknesses for Alabama. The Crimson Tide rank 94th with an average punt of 35.25 yards.

Freshman punter Sam Johnson has punted 10 times for 354 yards. Four of his 10 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. However, he was replaced by graduate transfer Charlie Scott in Alabama’s last game.

Scott, the brother of former Alabama punter and current Green Bay Packers punter J.K. Scott, played three seasons at Air Force before joining the Crimson Tide. He held a career punting average of 40.8 yards on 97 punts with Air Force. Last week against Tennessee, both of Scott’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

As for returns, junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle served as Alabama’s main returner, but his season is now over after suffering a fractured ankle on the opening kickoff of last weekend’s game. The fracture will require surgery. He returned four kickoffs and two punts prior to the injury.

Waddle will be replaced by redshirt sophomore wide receiver Slade Bolden.

Senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith serves as the second kickoff returner for Alabama. He has returned two kicks for 42 yards.