Saban Said Bama Wasn't Prepared

After his team posted a 20-7 road win in Starkville against a fired-up Mississippi State team, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was not the happiest camper in the Southeast. "We have to prepare our players better," Saban said. "That's on me. We didn't get them mentally prepared."

Alabama had uncharacteristic mistakes of an undefeated team that is ranked first in the nation.

"It's always good to win an SEC game on the road. (State) had a really good plan. We struggled trying to run the ball in the first half (with 99 net yards). That's not the kind of football we can play if we're going to be team we're capable of being. We won the game, but we didn't really beat the other team, if that makes sense. That's not how we usually try to do it."

Saban seemed to feel his players would bounce back from an at times lackadaisical effort, based on what he knows about his squad. "I'd much rather have a team that wants to see how far they can go. That's takes a lot of desire and character, and it's part of ‘The Process.'"

Saban did see some positives, particularly on the defensive side, where the Tide held the Bulldogs to ten first downs, 53 rushing yards, and 197 total yards. "I was really pleased with the way our defense got two stops: after the last interception, and after last fumble. That was really critical. Our pass rush improved in the second half, especially toward the end of the game."

Senior punter Cody Mandell, who averaged 55 yards on four punts and downed a pair inside the five, caught the eye of all 57,211 fans at Davis Wade Stadium, but his biggest fan may have been Saban. "I thought Cody did a fantastic job," he said. "He had a fabulous day. I think it was huge."

Saban said officials provided him with an explanation of the Bulldog's lone touchdown that satisfied him. "They fumbled the ball. Both guys had possession, and that goes to the offense. "We've got guys jumping around, pointing out whose got the ball. My thing is, ‘How ‘bout go get the ball?'"

As to the controversial interception by the Bulldogs' Taveze Calhoun where it appeared he landed out of bounds, Saban was on the other side of the field and couldn't see Calhoun's feet. Asked why he didn't call time out and challenge the play, he replied, "We've got guys in the booth, and they'd already looked at it. You think me challenging that would have changed their mind?"

After asking, Saban was told by a reporter that the player appeared to be out of bounds, and he said, "Then why didn't' (replay officials in the booth) stop it? Maybe I should have challenged it. That's a bad call. A bad call by me."

Another reporter wondered why Saban accepted a five-yard penalty for ineligible man down field in the second quarter, giving State a third-and six at the seven rather than fourth-and-one at the two-yard line. "On fourth-and-one, the percentages are with the offense. Most people go for it. We go for it," he said. "Third and six at the six, and the field is shrunk. You've got a good chance to be successful."

The Tide was successful on that drive, as State's Evan Sobiesk missed a 23-yard field goal.

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