Alabama Coach Nick Saban had a message for the Tide defense during the final minutes of regulation play against LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday night. Bama’s T.J. Yeldon had fumbled the ball to the Tigers on the Alabama six-yard line with just 1:13 to play in a tie game.
He said, “We had to overcome to win, which we knew we would have to playing here. It’s always that way here. When the defense went out there after the fumble, I told them, ‘This is where you show you know how to win. We got to stop them right here.’” He said Alabama needed to hold the Tigers to no more than a field goal.
That mission was accomplished as LSU did, indeed, kick a field goal with 50 seconds remaining in regulation. The Tigers had a three-point lead.
Saban continued, “When the offense went out there with 50 seconds left to go in the game, I said, ‘This is where you show that you know how to win.’
That, too, was done. Bama drove to a tying field goal to send the game into overtime, and in the extra period secured the 20-13 victory.
Saban said, “The players did a great job in the face of those circumstances, and it continued into overtime. I need to know how we get two penalties inside the two-yard line. We made it a little more difficult than we needed it to be, but we have to be proud of the players for the way they competed – the resiliency they showed, and how they finished the game.”
The Alabama coach added, “Now, if you want to talk about the rest of it, you have to give credit to LSU’s players. They played a good game. They really played hard. It was a tough game—physical. Direct run after direct run ... You have to give their guys a lot of credit.
“You got to give our guys a lot of credit for hanging in there, stopping them when we had to stop them and making the plays when they needed to make them to win the game.”
Saban acknowledged that it was not Alabama’s best game. “There’re a lot of things we need to do better, there is no question about that,” he said. “You ask the players, ‘How do you think you played today?’
“It was a great win, but do we think we played a great game today? Probably not one of our best.
“We need to make improvement based on that.
“This is a great atmosphere for college football. It was tough to down there, and I’m really, really proud of those players.”
Saban discussed some details of the strategy for playing against LSU and why that strategy didn’t work because execution was off. Alabama likes to have a balanced offense but ended up throwing 45 passes and having only 29 running plays.
“It was tough,” Saban said.T”hey were playing a lot of man-to-man, a lot of close coverage. We threw a lot of balls in the first half trying to get them over the top, but none of them really did.” From that standpoint, he said, there were a lot of wasted plays. Nevertheless, he supported the strategy, even though it didn’t work as well as expected.
Saban did give credit to Tide quarterback Blake Sims. “He hung in there,” the coach said. “You have to have a lot of resiliency when playing in our league. I mean, these our good teams that we’re playing. I’m really, really proud of the way he played. Things weren’t really going well for him, and Blake usually gets frustrated. I’m really proud of his resilience today. He hung in there and made the plays he needed to make to win us the game.”