There's no way to sugar-coat the injuries Alabama has dealt with this season. All four of the starting linebackers on opening day are either out for the season or have missed multiple games while two reserves have also suffered major injuries.

The latest blow came against LSU when senior Shaun Dion Hamilton broke his patella and sophomore Mack Wilson had to undergo foot surgery after the game. Both players were a significant part of the Alabama defense and it leaves the coaching staff relying on inexperienced players heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

"Any situation like that, it's always just a devastating thing to the team," linebacker Rashaan Evans said. "Just with the key players that we did lose. Something like this is definitely unplanned. You definitely don't plan for things like this but, for us, all we can really do is continue to just improve as a team. We've got our phrase 'next man up.' For the guys that will be stepping in to help our team, I know they're going to play for those guys and do what they're supposed to do."

Evans has been in the same position as the young players are now. He remembered Reuben Foster always being one to help him when he was coming up, and now it's his turn to pass it forward.

"All I can do right now is just really help those younger guys and prepare them as much as I can mentally to understand that regardless of the outcome of the game, you shouldn't worry about that. Worry about what you can control right now and do the little things."

There will be little time to adapt to the changing personnel as No. 16 Mississippi State awaits the Crimson Tide on Saturday. The defense will be tested against dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and will have to find a way to limit his big-play ability.