Tide Didn’t Do Things To Grab Momentum

Alabama Coach Nick Saban knows the value of having Big Mo on your team, and that’s not a matter of recruiting. He said the Crimson Tide didn’t have it in a 23-17 loss to Mississippi in Oxford Saturday.

“It’s important when you play in difficult games against good opponents on the road that you finish plays, that you finish drives, that you finish the game whether it be on offense, defense or special teams,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Monday. “We did not do that very well.”

Saban said he did not think Bama had played well in either a neutral site win (Atlanta) over West Virginia to start the season or in the loss at Ole Miss in the most recent outing.

“I don’t think that we played with the same kind of energy and enthusiasm, for whatever reasons, which is something that each player has to be able to challenge himself to do,” Saban said. He said the Crimson Tide must “sustain the mental intensity and focus that you need to finish the game, play the game, play through momentum swings in the game, which the 50-yard pass I've talked about to the tight end, probably changed the momentum of the game and we never changed it back.

“We went down and kicked a field goal.

“Opening drive of the second half we have a good drive and come up empty because we didn't finish the drive. Stalled out three or four times inside the 30-yard line and actually had negative plays which made difficult field goals, which we ended up missing a couple. We never really changed the momentum of the game back by having mental toughness and focus to be able to play through those things. That's what we've got to learn how to do better.

“I’m not saying we didn’t play hard. We didn’t have guys loafing; that wasn’t the case. I just mean to finish things, to make the kind of plays that we need to make to be the kind of team that we can be.

“We turned the ball over the last two times that we had it, had very costly penalties, and made a couple mental errors on defense. When you play good teams in tough situations it’s difficult to overcome.

“So that question now becomes the same thing I said after the game: How do you respond to a loss? Everybody has to ask themselves the question from the coaches right on down, starting with me; who’s making this team better? I’m talking about how you affect other people, how you help other people play better, how you help other people get better, how we get more players involved in being able to play winning football regardless of whether we play out in the parking lot, on the road, in Bryant-Denny Stadium, it really doesn’t matter.”

Alabama continues on the road and in the Southeastern Conference this week. The loss to Ole Miss dropped Bama from first in the Coaches Poll and third in the Associated Press ranking to seventh in both polls this week. Bama is 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Arkansas, which was open last week, is 3-2, including 0-2 in the SEC.

Kickoff in Fayetteville Saturday will be at 5 p.m. CDT on ESPN.

Saban said, “Arkansas is probably the most improved team in the country in terms of comparing last year to this year. They have really played very well all season long. They had a great chance to beat Texas A&M, but came up short in the end.

“They have been dominating in terms of running the football, and really pass it effectively when they have needed to. The quarterback is playing well for them, they have two good running backs, their offensive line is not only big, but they do a good job of executing what they do. They have only given up one sack all year long. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they run the ball really well and they don’t get into a lot of situations where you can try to pressure the quarterback, because you are always worried about the run.

“This is probably the best overall offensive running team that we have faced all year long, no question. [They also have] the capability to make big plays throwing the ball.

“Defensively, they are much improved as well. They are better up front and better in the secondary. They play hard and with a lot of toughness. This is a very physical team on both sides of the ball. This is going to be a very challenging game. These guys are a very good football team and our guys are going to have to play as well as we have played, and continue to improve to have success, especially on the road.”

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