Saban Sees Wildcats Being Tough Foe
Alabama will be in Lexington this weekend and no one expects Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban's job to be on the line. Bama is 5-0 and ranked first in the nation. Kentucky has that one win and four losses, including two to Southeastern Conference teams.
In his regular Monday press briefing, Saban said, "It's always tough to play in our league, especially on the road. I think Kentucky's really playing well as a team. Sometimes you look at the won-loss record and it's a little deceiving. These guys have played really three good football teams in a row, played them all tough, played them all well."
True enough. Louisville was a 27-13 winner, Florida won by 24-7, and South Carolina had a 35-28 win. The other Kentucky loss was to Western Kentucky, 35-26.
Saban said, "Typically, they have given us tough games the last couple of times we've played them."
That's also true. In 2008, Alabama escaped with a 17-14 win in Tuscaloosa. In 2009 in Lexington it was Bama 38, Wildcats 20.
Saban said, "Mark Stoops (new head coach of the Wildcats) has done a really good job there, I think.
"The players are playing hard. They play with a lot of toughness. They're really good on special teams, which to me sometimes really shows the character and attitude of your team as much as anything. They play two quarterbacks on offense. Both of them have a little different skill-set."
One of those quarterbacks, Jalen Whitlow, will be particularly motivated. He is from Alabama high school powerhouse Prattville. Saban said Whitlow played most of the game against South Carolina. "He's really kind of a dual-threat guy," Saban said. "He's a good runner. He's really continued to improve as a passer and was effective last week in that regard.
"Defensively, they have played better and better and better as the season has gone on. They played a lot of 4-3 early; they've played a lot more 3-4 in the last three games.
"They seem to be a pretty good, solid defensive team. They've certainly played well on special teams and have good specialists.
"We expect this to be a difficult game. I think that our players need to prepare for this team with a lot of respect. I think our players understand how difficult it is to play on the road in our game."
Saban would like to see his Crimson Tide give a performance similar to last week's 45-3 win over Georgia State.
He said, "I was really pleased with the way our players came out and did a really good job of sort of building on the momentum of the Ole Miss game from the previous week.
"We controlled the line of scrimmage and were very efficient in the passing game offensively.
"Defensively, we controlled the line of scrimmage.
"I think the focus moving forward knowing that resistance is going to be greater and greater as we go through the season and go through our league, is everybody's got to focus on improvement, getting better, better execution as a team. Lots of players got experience in this last game. They need to focus on what they need to do to improve and become complete players at their position, which is sometimes difficult for young players to really understand.
"Everybody in the world is looking for immediate, positive gratification for whatever it is they do. And that's instant tea, instant coffee, instant everything. Instant self-gratification.
"There's a process that everybody has to go through to build to be successful, especially when you're a young player. I think to get a lot of these guys in the game, to get an opportunity to play and to understand the importance of preparation, being ready to play, is something that they can really learn so that they can focus on continuing to make progress as a player. It's not just about how much I play, but it's a lot about how good a player am I at my position? How well did I play?
"The games in front of us obviously are going to be much more challenging. So we need to focus on what we need to do to continue to progress as a team and build on the improvement."
Saban said the only new injury was to linebacker Denzel Devall and that Devall would be "a little limited" in Monday's practice but "fine for the game."
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