Finishing Strong Is Tide Challenge

Generally speaking, reporters are savvy enough to craft their questions carefully for Alabama Coach Nick Saban. The coach gets a measure of enjoyment in taking a man to task for a question that is ambiguous or calls for speculation or comparison.

On Monday, as Alabama was surveying the damage from the 24-21 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban had a question, rhetorical in nature.

"The reality check of it all," he said, "is ‘Where do you want to go from here?' I think the real glory of it is, sometimes, is when you get knocked down, it's your ability to get back up, to overcome adversity, and that's a true test of character. When you play good teams and you don't do things right you get exposed. I think the emphasis needs to be on teaching and doing a good job in technique. Now, we're responsible as coaches to be those teachers and to be good teachers, and that's certainly what we need to do to help our team get better."

Saban said coaches reviewing tapes of the loss to LSU were disappointed to see "There were too many occasions where we didn't get it exactly right." He said the emphasis had been on having "focus on execution...right tool, right time, do it the right way." Now, he added, "We have to refocus on what it takes to master our positions, individually and collectively."

The next opportunity to do that in a game comes at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, the Tide's first home game in a while. That's the good news. The bad news is that it comes against a Mississippi State team that has been playing very well, running off six straight victories. Kickoff Saturday will be at 6:15 p.m. with television coverage by ESPN2.

Saban said, "Mississippi State has a very good team. Dan Mullen has done an exceptionally good job there. You all know their record, they're 7-2, and they've lost to two teams in the top-10, in very close games. This is a good team. They run the ball extremely well on offense. They control the ball. Their defense has played really well this year. They're athletic, they can rush up front and they play hard. They've played with a lot of conviction all year long."

The Tide coach discussed leadership. He said, "When you have a young team – which we have a young team, only eight or nine seniors on the team – sometimes it's a little bit more difficult to get the younger players to assume the responsibility of leadership. We have had some good leadership on this team. I think it's something that we need to continue to develop and grow. That's going to be an important part of how the team responds. The true test of the leadership is how the team responds.. I think the leadership is most effective when things aren't going well; that's when it makes the biggest difference."

He said that Alabama's job as a team is "all about how you want to finish the season, what you can accomplish as a team. There's a lot out there that this team can accomplish. How you respond to adversity is the key."

On the injury front he said that tailback Trent Richardson, nose tackle Kerry Murphy, and linebacker Chris Jordan are all "day-to-day." They were not expected to participate in Monday's practice. Saban said that defensive back Dequan Menzie was recovered and could have played against LSU.

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