Paterno, Saban Discuss Match-Up

Alabama Coach Nick Saban and Penn State Coach Joe Paterno have gone head-to-head in six football games, each winning three. The Crimson Tide under Saban prevailed in Tuscaloosa last year, 24-3. The teams are both ranked as they prepare for Saturday's game. We wondered what they thought about coaching against one another.



Alabama, ranked third in the nation, and Penn State, ranked 20th in the nation, meet this week in the only college football game involving two ranked teams. Kickoff from Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa., will be at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. central) with national television coverage by ABC.

In Big Ten and Southeastern Conference media opportunities this week, we were able to address the question of Saban vs. Paterno.

First, to Penn State Coach Joe Paterno:

You have faced a Nick Saban head coached team six times. You have a 3-3 record in head-to-head matches. What is unique about competing against a Nick Saban coached team in all three phases of the game - offensively, defensively and special teams?

Coach Joe Paterno - "I think maybe the uniqueness is they are good in all three of them. They are sound, solid and fundamentally they don't beat themselves in any one of those areas

"They play with so much enthusiasm and as I said they have the quickness and the speed that goes along with their size. They are not overly big but they are certainly not little guys. They are guys that have what you're looking for. They look like football players. They play like football players. They hustle, they hit.

"Nick does a good job not only in recruiting but does a good job getting them to play as a team. When you watch them play as I said a little bit earlier as a coach its fun to watch them play. Its not so much fun to play against them but its fun to watch them because they do so many things so well."

Next, to Alabama Coach Nick Saban:

As a head coach you have faced a Joe Paterno led team six times. You have a 3-3 record in head-to-head matches. What is unique about competing against a Joe Paterno coached team in all three phases of the game - offensively, defensively and special teams?

Coach Nick Saban - "I think first of all you're always going to get a team that is going to play with really sound fundamentals in every part of the game - offense, defense, special teams. They are going to block and tackle and play sound in everything that they do. As I said before they are not going to give you anything because they are going to be a sound, solid team and utilize their personnel to benefit them the most.

"You have to play the same kind of football against them if you're going to have an opportunity to be successful.

"I would say in a nutshell that is probably the big thing. They are smart. They are well-coached. They are disciplined. They play with good fundamentals and you have to have the same kind of team or they are really going to take advantage of every mistake that you make not just errors in judgment or assignments but also in the discipline that you play with and the technique that you play with."

'BAMA Magazine - What is unique about competing at Beaver Stadium and some of the challenges your team will face? As a head coach you are 0-2 at Beaver Stadium.

Coach Nick Saban - "There are a lot of places that have a lot of tradition that are very difficult places to play in. I don't think there is any question Beaver Stadium is one of those places. It's going to be a challenge for our players to go in there and be able to focus like we need to on what we need to do to play winning football and not be affected by the external factors of playing on the road or the crowd or any of those types of things. That's always a challenge for your football team and it will be interesting to see how our guys respond to it."

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