Tide Arrives For Sugar Bowl Game

The overwhelming theme of those attempting to psychoanalyze the Alabama football team has been whether the Crimson Tide can rebound from the loss it suffered at the hands of Auburn. No doubt the root of the question stems from Bama's poor performance against Utah in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2008 season.

The Alabama football team arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon to resume preparations for the Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma. The third ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) and 10th-rated Sooners (10-2) will meet in the Louisiana Superdome at 7:30 p.m. CST Thursday, Jan. 2. ESPN will televise the game.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban and co-captains A.J. McCarron and C.J. Mosley were media representatives Friday. Following the brief press opportunity, the team was to meet and then have its first New Orleans practice.

McCarron has had an outstanding career, having quarterbacked the Tide to two national championships and a BCS bowl game this season and earning All-America in his final college season. He was asked about the team rebounding from its loss to Auburn.

"We come to practice every day, and we are out there to get better," McCarron said. "We aren't just going through the motions.

"We have a chance to win 12 games. Not a lot of teams in Alabama history can say that, not a lot of teams in the country can say that."

As an illustration of how seriously McCarron is taking the game, he said, "I was playing dominoes with the family last night, and I won that. I want to win everything."

Saban had the expected good things to say about being in the Sugar Bowl. "It's great for us to be back in New Orleans," he said. "This is the fifth Sugar Bowl that we (Saban family) personally have been to and the third with Alabama. We've always been treated first class by the city of New Orleans, the people on the Allstate Sugar Bowl committee, and all the people who make this one of the most prestigious bowl games in the country. There's no doubt our team and everybody that is involved with our team -- players, coaches, our families, supporters, fans -- are all excited to be back in New Orleans.

"We are very proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year and they certainly deserve the opportunity to be in a BCS bowl game. Our senior class has won 60 games I think in the last five years and have had some very good success in bowl game, which the challenge for us is to continue that success for them and our team and the future of our program.

"We are very impressed that we have 28 players who have already graduated that will participate in this bowl game, which may be one of the most in the country of anybody.

"We look forward to a great matchup with the University of Oklahoma. We have a lot of respect for their program, (Head Coach) Bob Stoops, their coaches, and the great season that they have had this year.

"I think this game means a lot to both programs because of the rich tradition and history that both programs have.

"Certainly, both teams had a very successful year and I think it will be fantastic matchup and most challenging for our players because of the quality of Oklahoma's team and their program."

The Tide coach also discussed the importance of those involved in the game having time for Christmas. He said the players had the 24th and 25th for Christmas and then began making their way towards New Orleans and becoming "re-focused."

Saban was asked about Oklahoma having two quarterbacks and the problem of preparing for both.

He said, "I think that we have a lot of respect for both of their quarterbacks and what their capabilities are. I think both guys are people who will run their offense very efficiently and effectively. Both are dual threats in terms of their ability to run the ball and run the option and pull the ball on the dive and challenge you on the perimeter, as well as be able to throw the ball in the play action game or on third down when they drop back. I don't think there is a whole lot of difference in what they do, but I think their skill sets are different in terms of one guy being a big, physical runner and the other not as big, but very athletic. I think our players have to be very aware of the two styles those guys have."

Mosley said the team had to have its focus on Oklahoma, and beyond that "focused on us getting the win. We have to make sure we are focused on the right things.

"We have to make sure that everyone is staying focused – the main thing is that when we get to practice we are doing the same things that we have done all year. We had eight practices leading up to this and everyone had the right mindset then. We had great practices and got our bodies back in shape. We have these practices the next few days and if we practice well we will have a good chance to win.

"We had our break and got to go home for Christmas, but now we are ready to get our bodies and minds in shape. We had eight great, physical practices before the break and established our plan. Now we just need to pick up where we left off in Tuscaloosa."

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