Tide Gets A Kick From Saban's Leap

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron wanted to play it down. Crimson Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood said he had never seen his coach so excited. That coach, Nick Saban, said it was all about the team. One of the Alabama sportswriters dubbed it Bama's "Hallmark moment."



It was less sentimental than Hallmark would have had it. It was an emotional finale to an exhilarating football game. Alabama Coach Nick Saban ran towards the middle of the field, where quarterback A.J. McCarron had just taken a knee to end the Crimson Tide's 38-17 victory over 10th-ranked LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium. And Saban, who is remembered from time-to-time for his spank of McCarron during the quarterback's mop-up duty days in 2010, leaped to the waiting arms of his quarterback.

McCarron had been there before.

"I started running towards him," McCarron said. "I knew he was...that was the second time we've done that. The first time was against LSU in the national championship game (at the end of the 2011 season).

"I knew he was going to jump up, so I had to catch him."

Saban said, "It really wasn't about LSU. We have a tremendous amount of respect for LSU and their team and because they're such a good team and it was a big game, the thing I was most concerned about and the thing I was happiest about is the way we responded and played in the second half. It's really about our team responding. I was really happy for our team responding the way they did. It was a great atmosphere to play a game in. I guess it was just kind of a, you know, an emotional moment for me. It was a big win for us. Really, it was all about how our team responded in the second half."

Kevin Norwood, who had a touchdown catch against LSU, said, "It was pretty funny.I've never seen Coach that excited."

Saban said, "You always want to see your team play well. I didn't think we played real well in the first half. I was really, really pleased with the way the team responded in the second half. I was really pleased with the way AJ's leadership helped us do that."

Saban was asked about McCarron's assertion that he would rather have another national championship ring (he has three, one as a redshirt freshman in 2009 and two as starting quarterback, 2011 and 2012) than win the Heisman Trophy.

"I think it's the ultimate team guy who would say that," Saban said. "I think AJ did a really good job, goes unnoticed in terms of his leadership and how he affected our offensive team playing much, much better in the second. He was very aggressive in the huddle in terms of trying to get the guys going and getting them to do the things we needed to do to be successful. I think that kind of leadership is really important on our team. It also shows that for him, that's more important than how many yards he throws for or how many passes we throw or whatever it is.

"I think that's the way you'd like for every player on your team to think. That's the attitude you'd like for every player to have. Does every player want the ball, does every receiver want to catch passes, does every runner want to gain yards?

"Absolutely.

"That's all great to have those kind of individual goals and I'm sure AJ has a lot of individual goals as well. To put that ahead of team success is something that would be detrimental to us being effective.

"When you have leaders on your team like C.J. Mosley and AJ McCarron who definitely put the team first, definitely put winning first, definitely willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, I think that's the only way you can have a successful team that plays with any kind of consistency that has a chance to be successful in the long run."

Saban said that leadership would be important this week as the Crimson Tide will hae to avoid "relief syndrome" – the inclination that the big test has passed and there is an opportunity to take it easy this week.

This week Alabama goes to Mississippi State to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville with kickoff at 6:45 p.m. CST Saturday and television coverage from ESPN. Bama is 9-0 ovezrall and 6-0 in Southeastern Conference games and ranked first in the nation in all polls. The Bulldogs are 4-5, including a 1-4 SEC record, but all five losses have come at the hands of ranked teams.

McCarron said he would not have to do anything special in practice this week to have the Tide ready to play.

"I'm just going to stay my normal self," the senior quarterback said. "I think we've got enough really good leaders on this team and older guys to lead this team in the right way. We're not going to get caught up in this one win. It happened to us last year (when Texas A&M defeated Alabama the week after the Tide had taken an emotional victory in Baton Rouge over LSU).

"We'll be ready to go."

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