Just About 60 Minutes, Says Saban
"I thought we just about had a 60-minute game," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said after the contest. "Other than the first 30 seconds." That's when the Rebels completed a 59-yard pass to "Snoop" Brassell over Dee Milliner en route to a one-yard Jeff Scott run and short lived 7-0 lead.
Alabama answered., and big-time.
"That's crucial, especially on the road," Saban said. "When you have a good team, you have to be able to overcome adversity on the road. One thing our players have learned over the past few years in this program is, when we're ready to play, we usually play pretty well.
"I thought our guys learned a lesson in last week (against Vanderbilt) in terms of not performing that well in the first half. When you're not ready to play, you get average pretty quick, and certainly a lot of teams can beat you if you do that. I think our guys are smart enough to dwell on the lesson that we learned, and we challenged them a little. We showed a lot of leadership on the field today. We also learned that you've got to earn it. Everybody has to be responsible to do their job."
Saban praised his team leaders for their work in practice all week to avoid coming out flat a second straight week. "We watched ‘Saving Private Ryan' last night," he said of the World War II film. "You've got to lead from the front, not from the back."
The fifth-year Tide coach was understandably unhappy with first Ole Miss drive of 72 yards in five plays, especially Brassell beating Dee Milliner on the deep pass, "(Milliner) just got beat by a fast guy. You can't give up big plays. They'll kill you," Saban said.
"They busted our coverage a couple of times, because they ran the two-man stack. We didn't play it right, and there was a lack of communication. Its something we didn't practice a lot, but it's a simple call."
As is always the case, not all was perfect on this day. Saban sat one of his best defensive players for the first 15 minutes of the contest, senior Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw. "We have internal rules in our program. (Upshaw) made a poor judgment, and we decided not to start him in this game. That's all I'm going to say about it.
"Courtney (Upshaw) did a really good job, played a really great game. Courtney has been a great ambassador for the program at the University of Alabama, for tornado relief and raising money." Once he got in, Upshaw had two sacks and forced a fumble.
Another negative was the Rebels' 223 yards on nine kick-off returns, a 24.8 average. "We've really got some work to do," said Saban. "That's certainly something we'll focus on."
Saban got plenty of questions on Heisman candidate Trent Richardson's four touchdown, 183-yard rushing performance.
"Trent had a great game," he said. "I think the offensive line did an excellent job, and I thing Trent would be the first one to tell you. We really had a great game plan against what they do.
"You saw A.J. (quarterback A.J. McCarron) checking a lot, and he called the right play about every time. Our offensive line did a great job of blocking, and Trent did a fantastic job of running. The guy is an outstanding football player, person, and leader on our team."
Saban particularly liked what he saw in the final 30 minutes, when his team won the second half 35-0 after a 28-0 third quarter.
"We came here today knowing that we would have to change how these guys think, and I think we did a great job of that, especially in the second half," he said. "We came back (after falling behind early) and got the game back. The defense really settled down to play better as the game went on."
While praising the performance of the offensive line, Saban used an analogy involving all-time great boxers. "We're probably a little more like Joe Frazier. We're not like Muhammad Ali. You won't see a lot of dancing around."
Regardless of which boxer you want to compare his team to, Saban's unbeaten, second -ranked Crimson Tide left Ole Miss and it's players laying on the mat, knocked out cold.
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