- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
E.J. Gaines is sick of the questions about playing in the SEC. Missouri's standout defensive back has heard enough. It's been 103 days since the Tigers officially became full-fledged members of the conference and the transition hasn't occurred without scrutiny.
"I am tired of that question," Gaines said with a laugh. "But it is what I expected. It's fun. It's intense. You play great teams each week."
The Tigers are 0-3 in their inaugural season as SEC members, losing games to South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt. The SEC has seven ranked teams, while Missouri's former conference, the Big 12, has just four.
"That's what Missouri's about -- competition," Gaines said. "This is great football. It's a great move for us and I'm glad we're playing them."
Gaines said Alabama fans should expect a good crowd and a good environment when they come to Columbia, Mo.
"We're competing with whoever comes into our stadium and whoever we play each week, so that's what they can be ready for," he said. "As far as our fans, they're great fans. They're some of the best fans in the nation. I can promise you that it will be packed and it will be live on Saturday at 2:30."
In advance of the game, Gaines spoke to TideNation about the matchup and what Missouri will have to do to be successful:
Scarborough: What's the feeling following a little bit of a letdown losing a close one to Vanderbilt last weekend?
Gaines: It's just something that we have to look over at this point. The game, there's nothing more we can do besides look at our mistakes, so that's all we've done and now we're moving on to Alabama.
Scarborough: You all have won five consecutive games following a loss. What does it take to do that? Is that something you pride yourself in?
Gaines: We never like to lose, so that's the first thing. We definitely have to learn how to get a streak going and that's how you become a great football team. You can't be up and down. You have to be consistent with your game. That's what coach [Gary] Pinkel preaches to us, so we have to come in and get this win and get on a little streak.
Scarborough: What areas do you feel like you guys have to improve on looking back on the way the season has gone thus far?
Gaines: Our disciple and our penalties. Little things like that. They definitely make a difference in football games. Alabama is a good team and they're really disciplined. If we want to win, we have to be the same way.
Scarborough: What do you know about Alabama, in general?
Gaines: They're a great football team. They're No. 1 for a reason. That's what I know about them at this point. We watch them and they can run the ball. They can pass the ball. They're pretty consistent and a developed football team on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Scarborough: Are there other things that have stood out to you watching film?
Gaines: Their quarterback is a pretty good passer. He can scramble, he can move around in the pocket a little bit and you can tell he's a developed quarterback. So we have to be on our game this week.
Scarborough: I saw where your team has 15 sacks this year. How important is it going to be on defense to put pressure on Alabama's offensive line and get in the face of AJ McCarron?
Gaines: It's important every week, so this is just another week where it's important for our defense. That comes back to the secondary also. We have to be on these guys and be good in coverage and let our guys go get the quarterback. I feel like we can definitely helped them out this week and they helped us out getting the interceptions and the takeaways this week. We're just playing together as a defense.
Scarborough: A lot of teams have tried to stuff the box and stop the run against Alabama. How important is it for you to do that on Saturday and make UA one-dimensional?
Gaines: I haven't talked to Coach about that yet, but I'm sure that's going to be something that he's going to throw in there. I'm sure he'll have a great scheme for us to come in there and get this win this week.
7dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough