Attention to detail. It is part of the process that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban espouses. To him, the need for it was proven last week when his top-ranked team pulled away in the second half for a 38-17 win over LSU.
It will have to be there Saturday night when Alabama makes the short trip to Starkville for another SEC game with Mississippi State, the kind of team which could pose a real problem if that focus doesn't get on the bus.
"If paying attention to detail was important to performance in the last game, which a lot of that happens in preparation and practice, then practicing correctly and paying attention to detail this week is certainly going to affect our focus and our ability to improve as a team and get the kind of preparation that we need to play well against a very good team," Saban said.
The Bulldogs are only 4-5, but all their losses are to Top 25 teams and they have been competitive in most of them. Just last week, they rolled up 41 points but fell victim to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M's high-powered offense.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has rolled up 2,264 total yards, including 1,542 in the air, and accounted for 17 touchdowns. The argument could be made that MSU, which is averaging 29.8 points per game, is one of the best offensive teams the Tide have played this year.
Of course, it can also be said that Alabama hasn't played many good offensive teams. Outside of A&M, Ole Miss and LSU, it hasn't been tested often. And the Bulldogs' leaky defense may render any worries about their productive offense moot.
But just in case, the Tide should pack their attention to detail before they face an opponent looking to make their season.
"This is a very good team that we are going to have to do a really good job of getting ready to play and play well," Saban said. "It is always important to play well on the road. Every place that we play is a difficult place to play and Starkville is no different."
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--LB C.J. Mosley is one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, which is given to the nation's top linemen. Mosley leads the team in tackles with 71, including seven for a loss, and has five pass breakups. He was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against LSU as he notched a dozen tackles, a pair of pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss.
--P Cody Mandell is one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's best punter. Mandell is averaging a school-record 46.4 yards on 27 attempts and has given up only 60 return yards all season. He's downed 10 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and forced five fair catches.
--RB T.J. Yeldon rushed 25 times for 133 yards and a pair of TDs against LSU, continuing his trend of coming up big in the biggest games. Yeldon is averaging nearly 135 yards per game when the Tide plays ranked teams this year. It was the ninth 100-yard performance in Yeldon's two seasons with the program.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "In the second half, we obviously executed better, played together better, overcame adversity and did a much better job of taking control of the game." -- Alabama coach Nick Saban on last week's 38-17 win over LSU.