Saban Says Bell Expected Back
Although Alabama has an open date this weekend, the Crimson Tide is having practices and Bama Coach Nick Saban is conducting press briefings. At Tuesday night's media opportunity, there was less interest in Alabama's 35-10 win over Virginia Tech in the season-opener last week and the upcoming game against seventh-ranked Texas A&M on Sept. 14 than there was in the status of wide receiver Kenny Bell.
Saban said that contrary to interpretation of Bell's social media messages that Saban had given him a "personal day."
The coach added, "He should be back to practice tomorrow.."
Bell, who earned his degree last December, became Bama's long distance specialist last year, averaging 25.4 yards per reception on 17 catches. He had three touchdown catches. Bell missed the Southeastern Conference and BCS National Championship games after suffering a broken leg in Bama's 49-0 win over Auburn.
Saban said, "Kenny's a fifth-year senior. He's done a great job in this program. He's played a lot of good football for us. He's made a lot of big plays. He's been a good teammate to a lot of guys on the team and certainly somebody that I have a tremendous amount of respect for as a competitor. Sometimes we have personal things that we need to get ironed out, and he had a day today to do that. There's really nothing else to talk about when it comes to that."
Later the coach said that Bell had come to speak to him "and we had a discussion. I don't discuss what I talk to players about publicly. And there were some personal things that he needed to iron out. And I think he talked to his family about it. I talked to his mom. We talked again today. I want Kenny to be happy. I would love him to be a part of the team if he can be happy doing that, relative to any other personal responsibilities that he has."
Alabama has not yet begun working on the much-anticipated game against Texas A&M and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. The Aggies were the one team that defeated Bama last year. The Tide was able to rebound from that loss and win the national championship.
"We have a plan," Saban said. "We have things that we need to do to improve as a team, which we are working on. But we probably won't start any kind of Texas A&M stuff until Thursday, which is usually the most we do on a team [when there is extra time], which is two extra days."
Although Alabama had a convincing win over Virginia Tech and although the Crimson Tide continues to be a solid number one in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls, Saban made it clear that "We have a lot of work to do" before Bama will be ready for the Aggies.
Saban said, "We've had two good days the last two days. I think everybody's got the right attitude, the right approach toward trying to improve.
"There were a lot of things we did good in the game. We played great on special teams. Other than a couple of plays, defensively we played pretty good. We made some plays on offense, but were inconsistent, sputtered a lot, made mental errors, had too many negative plays. A lot of that is about execution but a lot of it is about us getting our players ready to execute and to have a good plan.
"Virginia Tech's very good on defense and we probably needed to do a little better job for our players in terms of preparing them. If they don't play or execute well, that's on me, that's on the coaches, that's on what we didn't do.
"We're certainly going to try to get that fixed. There are certainly things that we need to improve. I think the players had a really good attitude about working through that. Hopefully this is a bit of a wakeup call for some of the players. We've talked about paying attention to detail, how important it is to pay attention to detail.
"We live in a society now where everybody wants to do what they want to do. Nobody wants to be obedient. Nobody wants to pay attention to rules or whatever.
"When you make a rule you've got to have your dog on a leash, somebody wants to have their dog not on a leash. That's the way it is.
"We can't have a team of people like that. We've got rules, we've got things that people need to buy into, be committed to, principles and values of the organization. Everybody's got to do it.
"If everybody's not willing to do it, then we probably shouldn't play them, we should play somebody else and get people that are bought in.
"I don't believe we can win with people who don't do that. That's something that we've had discussions about to get everybody sort of buying in to do the right thing so that we can improve as a team and get better as a team and have the kind of team chemistry that's going to get us there."
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