Nick Saban, Bama Are Moving On
Alabama Coach Nick Saban was moving on Monday (and almost certainly Sunday, too). He is now focused on Mississippi State – this week's Alabama opponent – not last week's foe – the number one ranked LSU team that defeated his Crimson Tide, 9-6, in overtime.
To be fair, that is always the case in the Monday press briefing conducted by Saban. The difference is that ordinarily there isn't much to look back on. Alabama's eight vanquished opponents before the lone loss to LSU had been about as interesting as road kill.
The Alabama coach began by saying, "I want to make one statement about the last game, and then we're moving on. I want to make sure everybody understands that, because our focus is someplace else."
The only purpose of the LSU game, Saban made clear, is as a learning experience. "There were a lot of lessons to be learned," he said.
Saban said, "We played hard in the game. We competed hard. It was a physical game with everybody trying to win the fgmae and did the best they could from an effort and toughness and intensity stnadpoint."
What was to be learned, he said, was "When you really look at it closely, the fundamental execution for what we need to do, get the execution of some things you need to do to beat a good team – which this certainly was – we didn't do.
"The whole idea is paying attention to detail, doing the little things right, although the things we've tried to get everyone to focus on all last week, is exactly what we need to do to improve as a team.
"I hope that we've learned, that we correct those things so that we can move forward in a positive way.
"Nothing that happened in the LSU game we can do anything about, other than what happens in the future and what we can learn from it. That's exactly what we're going to try to focus on."
He said that the loss to LSU "wasn't about players wanting to win. It wasn't about their effort. It wasn't about their toughness. It wasn't about their intensity. It was about any of that.
"It was based on the critical situations in the game. Focusing on what you need to do. Lining up right, reading where you throw the ball, how you throw the ball, who you throw it to, at every position on the field. On the offensive line, in the defensive secondary. Every position on the field.
"Were you able to focus on doing your job at a critical time in the game like you needed to do it correctly?
"Because that's what really gets you results. You've got to play smart.
"That's what we need to take from all this."
Where Alabama takes it next is to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Bama and the Bulldogs will kick off at 6:45 p.m. CST Saturday at Mississippi State with ESPN televising the game.
While Alabama has fallen to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play and is now ranked fourth in the nation, Mississippi State is 5-4 overrall and 1-4 in the conference.
"We're playing against a very good team this week, regardless of what their record is," Saban said. "They've lost only to ranked teams."
State has lost on the road against Auburn and Georgia and at home to LSU and South Carolina.
"They've got a very good defensive team," Saban said. "They've moved the ball on everybody they've played pretty effectively.
"They have a lot of starters back from last year, a lot of experience."
Saban said three Alabama players who were injured against LSU were injured and would not practice. Offensive tackle Barrett Jones, tight end Brad Smelley, and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick are being held out.
Kirkpatrick was the victim of a from-behind-clubbing at the hands of LSU defensive back Tryann Mathieu, who was called for "holding" by SEC officials.
Saban added one thing about the Alabama-LSU game in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
"It was a great atmosphere to play a football game in, as fine an atmosphere as I've ever been involved in. Obviously, a lot of people got to see the game on television, which is all good for The University of Alabama and college football."
CBS announced that the game had the second highest rating for a regular season game since records have been kept (since 1987).
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