Game Plan Is Part Of Tide Practice

Like it or not, Alabama and LSU have been determined to be the two best teams in college football this year. By that standard -- and there are no other criteria -- they have been matched by the Bowl Championship Series in the BCS National Championship Game.

End of story? Not by a long shot. Many believe that Alabama should not be in the game because LSU defeated the Crimson Tide, 9-6 in overtime, in the regular season. But regardless of that sentiment, the game will be played for the national title in the Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 9.

Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban admits that he's been "a little bit sort of amazed" that it is controversial.

"In every league," he said, and repeated, "in every league -- NBA, college basketball, the NFL -- people always play the same team again and nobody thinks twice about it. And now all of a sudden this is like some unique thing in sports."

The Tide coach said, "They (LSU) have a really good team, but I like our team. We have a good team. We had a great, physical, outstanding college football game the first time we played. and they took advantage of more opportunities than we did, and they won the game.

"So we're pleased and happy to have another opportunity to play in a classic like this game and to have a chance to play for the national championship."

Saban spent time both as an assistant coach and a head coach in the NFL, where rematches take place with some frequency. He said the rematch sometimes has a different outcome. "I think some of it is human nature in terms of guys being competitors, that maybe sometimes when you don't have success the first time around, you're anxious to do better the next time. But I also think that both sides probably look at things they did well and things they did poorly in the (first) game and try to fix those things to hopefully do a better job in all phases of the game. Sometimes those things that you do work well and sometimes they don't work so well."

Alabama returned to the practice field Wednesday after Crimson Tide players had a long weekend break for Christmas. The team will work in Tuscaloosa until early next week before heading to New Orleans to complete preparations.

"There was very good carryover from what we did the first five days," Saban said. "I thought the players were very crisp today and didn't seem to have much rust."

While those first days were spent on fundamentals, Saban said the Tide would begin work on the game plan. He said the Wednesday practice was a combination workout, some continuation of fundamentals along with game preparation.

"It's like having a one-game season," he said, "and everybody's got to really pay the price now so they can play the way they'd like to play when the game comes. I think the quality of practice is more important than it usually is. I think finishing in practice is more important than it usually is. Being able to sustain your effort in the game for 60 minutes is not something you've had to duplicate for a long time.

"It's important to try to get that in practice, and practice with the kind of fundamentals that will allow you to play well."

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