Saban Had Simple Message For Bama

Alabama Coach Nick Saban had a suggestion for his team at halftime of the game in Knoxville Saturday night. "I told them, ‘Everything will be more fun, guys, if we play with intensity.'"

Message received. Alabama broke from a close first half against Tennessee to a convincing 41-10 win over the Volunteers.

"That's basically what I think we did," Tide Coach Nick Saban said following the game. "Even though I did not think we had good intensity, we were not flat in the first half. Our guys were playing hard in the first half and were playing with a lot of toughness. They had a good plan and took advantage of some things. We just needed to ramp it up a notch or two to get to their level, and I think we came out and did that in the second half."

Saban said he was "very proud of the way our guys came out and competed. We knew it would be a tough game. We really wanted to try to build on and establish an identity. We did that in the second half."

He credited the team with "growing" and "maturing."

The Tide coach said, "You have to give Tennessee a lot of credit. I have a lot of respect for the tradition of this game , their program, their coaches, and their players. They really played hard and it was a tough game in the first half.

"I'm really proud of the way we came out and dominated the second half of the game. We had three scoring drives in a row to open the second half."

Saban said, "This is the best we've played on the road this year, especially in the second half -- which is good.

"Our focus this week was to try to distinguish ourselves by playing to a higher standard. In the second half we did that."

Saban also gave credit to Alabama fans. He said when the team arrived at Neyland Stadium, "We had as many fans to greet us as we have at a home game. That's as much noise (from Tide fans) as anyplace I've ever been on the road. It's inspiring to the players and we appreciate it."

One player who was obviously inspired was Julio Jones, who set an Alabama record with 221 receiving yards. Saban said, "He did a fantastic job. They were playing him man-to-man. They were helping in the middle with a safety. They did a really good job at times, but they were really kind of squatting on the routes, so we had no choice but to try to throw it over their head. Greg (quarterback Greg McElroy) made some great throws and Julio made some great catches."

Saban was also pleased with the play of the Bama running backs, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram. He added, "the offensive line did well and our guys are good at finding the crease."

The Tide coach was also pleased that McElroy was sacked only one time.

The fine performance notwithstanding, Saban said, "We still had some errors, and need to continue to improve."

Alabama has a bye week next week. Saban said the players would be off through Monday, then practice Tuesday-Thursday, though not in preparation for LSU, the next opponent. He said the team would work on "things that could be expected from future opponents" that Bama has not already seen.

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