UA Seniors ‘Bunch Of Good People'

For the most part, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was happy with what he saw from his top-ranked Crimson Tide during its dominating, 49-0 victory over Chattanooga Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In short, the seventh-year Tide mentor saw a lot to like, and a little to improve upon.

"We wanted to go out today and improve as a team and play better as a team," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. "We wanted to play well for the seniors (in their final home game). There's a lot guys in the (senior) class, guys like AJ (McCarron), C.J. (Mosley), and Kevin Norwood, who have meant a lot for the program. I was really happy with the way the fans that were here came out and supported the seniors."

Regarding that group of 15 men honored pre-game on Senior Day, Saban said, "I see a bunch of good people who are going to have a very good opportunity in life to do whatever they choose to do. None of them have ever gotten in any trouble. They've provided a lot of positive leadership for this team, which is appreciated, and they've been very productive in terms of their success here (on the field)."

At times, when playing lower division squads like the Mocs, the division one team plays down a level. Saban said that was not an issue Saturday. "I was pleased with the way our guys competed in the game," he said. "We got to play a lot of players, which I think is good for morale." (According to the official participation chart, Alabama used 74 men in the win.)

Saban chose to be brief in addressing his team's immediate, and important, future. "Our focus needs to be on the games we have in the future and the opportunities we have created for ourselves. Auburn (next week's opponent) has a very good team."

Injury-wise, one man left the game and three others were held out. "Arie (Kouandjio) twisted his ankle," Saban said. "He probably could have played. We think he'll be OK. Hopefully he'll be able to practice enough this week to be able to play in the (Auburn) game. I don't think it's that serious. It's an ankle. You never know.

"(Running back) T.J. (Yeldon) probably could have played. (Cornerback) Deion Belue and (tight end Brian) Vogler probably could have played, but we decided it was better medically to hold them out, and try to get them ready for next week."

One play that seemed to please not just mom Dee Dee Bonner but also all 100,179 announced fans in attendance was a three-yard pass play from McCarron to his younger brother, H-back Corey McCarron. Said Saban: "AJ told me a long time ago he'd like to be able to throw a pass to his brother sometime. I told Coach Nuss (Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier) to think of a play. They were pretty excited about it, but of course AJ got on (Corey) for not making a better run after he caught it."

Saban said the job Christion Jones (one touchdown, one fumble) did on returning punts was a mixed bag. "Those rugby punts that these guys kicked; you're seldom going to have a chance to catch the ball in the air," he said. "We practice this during the week with Christion, Dee Hart, Cyrus Jones and ‘Coop' (Amari Cooper). We practice being a shortstop. If we can get two hands on the ball like a shortstop would in baseball, we want to field the ball. On the fumble, Christion didn't quite get in front of the ball. That was probably the mistake he made. The one he did catch in the air, we scored on. It goes back to trying to execute the best way and maximize having the best play."

Saban ended by giving a mixed review to a first-time cornerback starter and true freshman who stepped in for Belue. "Maurice Smith did a good job out there," he said. "What's been difficult is when we play him at corner and at ‘star.' We've had to mix and match guys, and he didn't practice that much at star. I thought Maurice did a good job when he was playing corner, and he struggled some when he was playing ‘star' on contain. He really hadn't practiced there that much."

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