This Is Match-Up Of Genius Coaches

More than any other Southeastern Conference match-up, it is likely that an Alabama vs. South Carolina game would be considered the best defensive mind against the best offensive mind in the SEC, perhaps in the nation.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has a background as a defensive coach and is considered by many as not only the best coach in college football, but the best defensive tactician in the game. South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier has proved a master of offensive football as head coach at Duke, Florida, and now with the Gamecocks.

In today's SEC Teleconference, Saban was asked about his defensive philosophy when going up against the likes of Spurrier. The Alabama coach first paid tribute to the South Carolina coach.

"First of all," Saban said, "Steve Spurrier is one of the best offensive coaches in football, period. College, pro, it wouldn't matter. That's the kind of respect we have for him."

Saban said Spurrier's background as a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida and then as a longtime offensive coach enables Spurrier to recognize "what the defense is in and tries to get his team in the best thing they can be in to take advantage of that. He also does a great job of utilizing the personnel he has. The system is always sound and solid, and it's hard to create advantages for the defense."

Saban said, "My philosophy on defense is pretty simple, I guess. There're probably five or six things that are really important to playing good defense and that's what you always try to emphasize. You've got to be able to stop the run, youv'e got to get off the field on third down, you've got to play pretty well in the red zone. Turnovers are always a big part of being a good defensive team. Not giving up big plays. A combination of all those things sort of can make you hard to score on. That should be the goal of any defensive team."

Alabama, ranked number one in the nation with a 5-0 record, will be at South Carolina (3-1, ranked 19th in the nation) for Saturday's CBS television game. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time).

Saban said, "South Carolina is a very good team. They have great balance on offense. They're able to run the ball effectively with a great, young back, and they've always done a real good job in the passing game. They have good coaches. Their defense plays well. They're very well coached.

"It will be a challenging game for us from the standpoint that we need to focus on the things that we have not done correctly because this is a time of the year when those things start to get exposed, whether it's individual things that players do or systematically what we do offense, defense and special teams. Our focus needs to be on improving.

"This game will probably define our team as much as any, playing in a tough place to play against a really good team."

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