No One Ever Said It Would Be Easy
Alabama has a 19-game winning streak, including a 5-0 record this year, and is ranked first in the nation, but Coach Nick Saban said "This will be the game that really defines us more than any other game we've played this year in terms of the challenges we have."
The challenge comes from South Carolina in Columbia on Saturday. The Gamecocks are 3-1 and ranked 19th in the nation and coming off an open date. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) with television coverage by CBS.
"We've had a pretty good week of work, the players working hard and responding," Saban said. "The way you do anything is the way you do everything.
"It defines who you are in terms of having a chance to accomplish something special. It's a great opportunity to play a very good team, and it will be a very difficult place for us to play, and it will take a lot of poise on our part to be able to compete the way we need to compete every play in the game to do the things we need to do to have success."
Saban added that Alabama didn't play very well in its first Southeastern Conference road trip to Arkansas "to start the game." He said, "It's going to be important to start fast and finish strong and play through 60 minutes."
In discussing the hard work that must be done to be successful in football, Saban said, "Everybody in my whole life has been looking for an easier way to do something."
He noted that now everyone can change the channel on a television set with a remote control device. He said when he was a child the television had only three channels and someone had to get up to change it. Not only that, he said, "I had to go out in the backyard, in the dark, scared to death, and turn the antenna for my Dad so he could change the channel.
"So all my life somebody's been looking for an easier way to do everything, but to do this, there's no easy way to do it. It takes a lot of hard work, it's very challenging, and everybody has got to challenge himself to do his best to be able to do it.
Saban said wide receiver Julio Jones, who suffered a knee injury late in Bama's 31-6 win over Florida last week, had practiced Wednesday. "He didn't seem to have any issues," Saban said. "Like always, you have to see how he responds to that in terms of what happens next, and if he gets better tomorrow, I think he'll be fine."
He said linebacker Chris Jordan, who has a shoulder injury, continues to be day-to-day.
Saban was asked about the difficulties of going on the road for a game. He said, "I think the first thing your team has to be convinced of it's not about what they do. It's about what you do. None of those things have an effect on the game unless they affect you.
"Everyone has heard the analogy when I was at Michigan State and we'd go to play Notre Dame and there were all these reasons why we could never beat Notre Dame. They wore green jerseys. The Gipper talked to them Friday night before the game. I'd say, ‘Guys, you're going to hear all this stuff, but it means nothing unless it means something to you.' So when you go to play on the road in the league, all that stuff you are talking about doesn't mean anything unless you let it affect you and it means something to you. If you can stay focused on your job and believe and trust in the fact that what you do will affect the outcome of the game, it will be about what you do, it won't be about any of that stuff when it's all over.
"When we come back here and watch the film Monday we'll sit here and say we made these mistakes. And that when we did it correctly, and when we didn't bad things happened, and if you don't do it correctly enough and bad things happen, you don't give yourself an opportunity to be successful. I think that's the way we've always approached it.
"The field is going to be 53 yards wide by 100 yards deep. I don't think they're going to change that. It will be the same size field for everyone. You have to be able to play and overcome those circumstances if you're going to have a chance to win in this league; you have to do it on the road."
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