Just a few days before the University of Alabama hosts Southern Miss (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2), Golden Eagles coach Todd Monken talked to reporters about facing the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday:

On Alabama in general:
“They are the model of consistency. You want to go and play someone who is at the top of what you do in Division I football and that is Alabama. They are well-coached. They don’t give you much. They run the football. They can throw it. It is going to be a real challenge for our team, but we are excited. That is why you get in this profession to see where you are at. We are going to take our team over there Saturday and fight like heck and see what happens. We have to get better as a team. That is really it. Control what we can control, which is our team and how we do it and how we prepare. The process of how we get better. There are a lot of things we can improve on, starting with me as the head coach. That is what we are trying to do because we have a long season ahead. We want to see some of those things how we do it systematically on Saturday.”

On whether the team can play looser now that the players have the first win out of the way, last week’s 26-20 victory over Alcorn:
“To say loosely, it would be hard to speak for our players on how they play. Each team is a different challenge irrespective of the opponent. What Alabama is going to do in respect to what Alcorn does is not the same. It is how you dissect an opponent on both sides of the ball and then you go after. I don’t know if I could say from a loose standpoint or not. We have to let it hang out. We have to go out there and play with an absence of fear in everything that you do.”

On the perception of Alabama traditionally being a running team, but can air the ball out as well:
“Some of the plays they got last week were a product of their running game. They are still going to want to run it. They are going to want to run play-action. They want to establish the line of scrimmage. That is good football, always has been, always will be. Some of the throws they made last week were bubbles, quick screens on the perimeter off of their run game. That is part of it. That is what everyone is doing these days. That is no different. It just shows up in the box score in the pass game. The reality of it is to build off of the run game. They have tremendous athletes on the perimeter. Their guys are doing a good job of blocking for each other which is a sign of a team playing for each other. They have great running backs. They have two quarterbacks and they have done a great job with both of them. They are both good players. A lot of times you see a program and they can’t decide on the quarterback and that says that they don’t have a guy who is talented enough. That is not true. Both of these guys are talented enough and warrant being the starter. Either one of them could start and lead them to victory. It is a good problem for them to have and they have done a good job with it.”

On Alabama’s secondary being viewed as a potential weakness:
“I don’t see it that way. If you look at the West Virginia game, they had one guy making a bunch of plays. He is a good player. That receiver they have at West Virginia makes plays. You see that and some of the things that Oklahoma did last year were really on run-pass conflicts. They have some guys make some plays. I don’t see their secondary as a weakness. I don’t. I see good players. They are physical. They are physical when they want to press you. I don’t see it as that. We are going to have to make some plays on the perimeter because they are going to challenge you. They have always done that. We are going to have to make some plays on the perimeter if we expect to stay in the game and have a chance. You are not going to consistently line up and run it against them. You have to make some plays on the perimeter and do a good job of holding on to it.”

On Alabama’s pass rush:
“First of all, they are big and physical up front. They may not be as experienced as they have been in the past, but they are physical up front. Their linebackers are physical. They do a great job on third downs. They do a great job of staying in front of the chains. You don’t want to get into extreme third down and long with their nickel and dime packages. They blitz you and give you different looks. The biggest thing is stay in front of the chains and make some big plays. Our offensive line will have a big challenge this week. I think they will continue to improve as they play together and develop. We just have to do it better.”

On how preparation will differ this week after losing to Mississippi State 49-0 two weeks ago:
“The difference is you have all year for that first one. The whole offseason from the last game that you are playing Mississippi State and the history of playing them. There is a history of playing Alabama, but they are not in-state. There is a little bit different feel for playing Mississippi State as opposed to Alabama in terms of that. In terms of quality opponent, no. There is another quality opponent there. They have done a great job and has a storied tradition. From that part of it, it is going to be challenging based on how they coach them and the quality of player they’ve got. That is the challenge this week. It is a little different being the third week instead of the first.”