Saban Says Tide Needs To Improve
Alabama and Florida are both 4-0. The Crimson Tide is ranked first in the nation, the Gators seventh. They will play at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa Saturday with kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT and television coverage by CBS.
"We're working hard, trying to make some corrections and progress as a team," Bama Coach Nick Saban said following Wednesday's practice. "I think it's important for us as a team right now to make improvement, and I think to do that everybody needs to understand the kind of intensity that you need to have so that you can improve. I don't care what it is that you're trying to do, you have to have intensity. Intensity to an athlete is like water is to all of us; without it you can't survive. It was pretty obvious in the last game when we didn't have the kind of intensity that we needed, we didn't play very well in the first half. When we had better intensity, we played better.
"Perfection is being able to look everyone in the eye and know that you did all you could do to be the best you could be and you didn't let anybody down in terms of doing your job. We continue to try to get a critical mass of guys on our team to do this on a consistent basis. And when you play a good football team it's important that everyone on your team understands what it takes to accomplish that. It's important that we keep practicing hard and we keep getting better.
"The team we're playing has a lot of speed, a lot of good players, know how to win, they've been very, very successful, they're well-coached, and we're going to have to play our best game of the year to have success against them."
One of the more spectacular achievements of Alabama over the past almost four years is that no opposing runner has managed a 100-yard rushing game, a period of 38 games.
Saban said, "We pride ourselves on being able to play the run. I don't think we've played the run this year as well as we need to. That's something we need to improve on. We haven't tackled as well. I think we need to improve on that. I think when you make mental errors on defense, you also put yourself in a position where you get a lot more big plays, whether it's run defense or pass defense. I think that's something else we need to improve on. We've had some pretty good football players around here the last couple of years. We've had largely the same guys playing for the last couple or three years, guys who really bought in to what we do and why it's important to do it that way. They had a lot of success. This group needs to continue to improve so we can have that kind of success and continue to have that kind of success. We're going to play against some good players in the next few weeks, so it will be interesting challenge to see if we can continue to have success against the run."
The Tide coach said that defensive end Marcell Dareus, who has been limited with an ankle injury, was back at practice Wednesday. "He did fine," Saban said. "He didn't have any issues. He probably wasn't 100 per cent, but I think made enough progress to think that if he can be better tomorrow he'd have a pretty good chance to play in the game."
Saban said that defensive back Jarrick Williams was back practicing, but in a black shirt that limits what he is permitted to do. Williams had a shoulder injury.
Prior to his meeting with Alabama reporters following practice, Saban participated in a teleconference with regional and national media. Here are some excerpts from that Wednesday morning event:
"We're obviously pleased with being able to come back in the game and the competitive character of our team showed last Saturday at Arkansas," Saban said. "There was a lot to be learned about playing in the league and playing on the road in this league and the things you have to do to bring your ‘A' game and be ready to do so in some tough circumstances against good teams. Hopefully, our team will be able to learn and grow and mature as competitors (because) we have another outstanding team this Saturday in Florida, probably the most successful team in our league the last three-four years. Certainly a team that has a lot of very good players on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game and are very well coached and do a very good job. It will be very challenging for our players to do the things they need to do to play winning football for 60 minutes and that's what we're focusing on trying to being able to do."
Saban said that he has a "tremendous amount of respect" for Florida Coach Urban Meyer, pointing out Meyer's great success. In addition to Meyer's coaching success, Saban said, "I think he cares about college football and college football players. That's why he was interested in being involved in the agent deal." When Saban put together a group to address the problem of unscrupulous agents, Meyer was one of the college coaches he enlisted.
One of the rising stars in the SEC and in the nation is Florida freshman Trey Burton, who scored a record six touchdowns in Florida's 48-14 rout of Kentucky last week. Burton is a wide receiver and tight end who is also used as a quarterback, "not dissimilar to what (Tim) Tebow did," Saban said. "He just looks like one of those smart, instinctive guys that no matter how they use him, he seems to be having success.
"Our players need to know where he is all the time. They have a lot of other good skill players that you have to keep track of."
Saban was asked about Florida and Alabama being the dominant programs in the SEC. Saban said, "I know they have a lot of good players and they have a great staff and do a really good job of coaching. I would like to think that our success is attributed to having a good program, having a good staff, having a lot of good players that we've been able to develop not only as football players but the character and attitude to do things that are going to help them be successful as people and students as well. We've been fortunate to have some good players and they've played extremely well with a great attitude. There's a lot of tradition here and it's good that we've been able to sort of restore that to some degree. You got to keep on keeping on. You're only as good as your last game and only as good as your last play. Consistency in performance is the tell-tale sign of success."?
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