Even Saban Doesn't Know About Bama

So you think you know what to expect from Alabama when the Crimson Tide opens the 2013 season Saturday? Well, the man who knows more about it than anyone is in a wait and see mode.

Every poll in the nation has predicted that Alabama will win its third consecutive national championship, fourth in five years. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban has said, "I've been pleased with the way our team has worked. I've been pleased with the way the leadership has developed. I think that's something that's goin gto have to continue. I'm not disappointed in the way we've prepared and the way we've practiced, the things we've done."

Is there a "but" in there?

"I'm anxious to see how it all comes together when we play a game," Saban said.

That game comes Saturday. The Crimson Tide will meet the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with kickoff at 5:30 p.m. EDT (4:30 central time) and ESPN televising.

Saban said, "I think that you can make any kind of predictions that you want about what you think you have or what you think you are, but until you actually go and play a game and see how your team's going to respond, especially to the bad things that happen in a game, I think that's really the test of what kind of character and discipline that you have.

"Discipline is...what you're supposed to do, when you're supposed to do it and the way it's supposed to get done. The right thing, the right way, the right time all the time. But it really is about being able to do something that you really don't want to do, that you don't feel like doing, but knowing it's the right thing to do and making yourself do it.

"It's also about not doing something that you could do, that you have an opportunity to do, that's a temptation to do, that's the wrong thing to do, and being able to make the right decision about doing that, and not doing it.

"It happens in the game, it happens in life, it happens all the time."

Saban said the game is the place where players "show who you are. Are you going to be the real thing, are you going to be for real? Or are you just going to be somebody's who's out there? Can you deliver in the critical time? Are you going to be a blinking light, a guy who can't really do his job on a consistent basis? Somebody the other team can look at and say 'Hey we can take advantage of that guy.' Are you going to be a guy that's responsible, disciplined and do the things you have to do in preparation so that you can go out and play winning football?

"That means everybody has to bring his ‘A' game. The combination of all those individuals being able to do that is what creates the identity of the team.

"That's our goal. That's what we want to do as a team. Nothing else matters. No external factors matter at all to any player on our team. It's all about how they perform in this game. It's not what they did last year. It's not about their girlfriend. It's not about anything, but playing this game. Playing your game and preparing for this game. Focusing on this game like it has a history and life of its own.

"If you can do that, none of those other things matter. None of it means anything unless you make it mean something. The goal here has always been to focus on the things we can control. The things we can control is how we play, how we perform and how we prepare. The team has done a really good job of working to get themselves ready for the season. You never know for sure until you go out there and play who are the real guys that can do the job and play with confidence and maturity and play winning football."

On other fronts, Saban said there were no injury updates, only that linebacker Tana Patrick and defensive lineman Wilson Love would be limited Monday, but expected back at practice Tuesday.

He said the travel squad for the game against Virginia Tech would probably be about 85. There is no limit on the travel squad for the game.

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