Alabama is 9-1 this season and has the best record in the Southeastern Conference at 6-1. Western Carolina is having a decent year with a 7-4 record, including a 5-2 record in the Southern Conference. Kickoff Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at 3 p.m. with television coverage by the SEC Network.
One thing almost no one would think about is an Alabama loss. There is an interesting note in the Western Carolina pre-game press fact sheet, though:
“A Western Carolina win would represent arguably the biggest victory in the school’s football program history.”
Which leads one to wonder, “What previous WCU victory might rank higher than a win over 2014 Alabama?”
Although Alabama Coach Nick Saban gives the firm impression that he leaves nothing to chance, but his thoughts are on more than just Alabama defeating Western Carolina. This is a week, he said, when every player must concentrate on what he can do to be a better player, thus making Bama a better team.
“I think the most important thing to do at this time of year is everybody stay focused on what they've got to do,” Saban said. “Focus is like momentum. When you lose momentum in the game, it's really hard to get back. So if you don't stay focused on what you need to do to get better, it's not about the other team, it's about what we need to do as a team.
“Take advantage of the opportunity that we have rather than just looking at what do we need to do to win this game. There's a huge difference in that.
“So if I say what do we have to do to win this game, I might think, 'Well, I don't have to practice as hard this week. The guy's not quite as big as what I'm used to having to play against,’ or whatever.
“Are you going to get better that way or not? Taking advantage of the opportunity that you have is much bigger than that. I need to play better. I need to improve. I need to help my teammates play better. We didn't execute these plays properly. We need to start getting these plays right. We've got to do a better job, whether it's covering, blocking, carrying out fakes, catching balls, whatever it is.
“The major thing for me is stay focused on what you need to do to improve, so you take advantage of the opportunity. And that's for every player.
“How are we going to get better? How are we going to get better?”
In all probability focus will not be a problem for the Crimson Tide. Saban has said this has been an enjoyable team to coach. He expanded on that thought Monday.
He said, “Basically, what I mean by that is as a head coach when you have energy vampires on your team who never do what they're supposed to do and take all your energy as a coach. So you've got five guys who take all your energy and never get to enjoy the other 95 guys who do everything right.
“We just don't seem to have those guys on our team, and we seem to have a lot more guys that sort of like each other, buy in, try to help each other, want to do what's best for the team, a pretty selfless group of guys when it comes to everybody willing to be all in and do what they have to do to try to help the team.
“That's always more fun to deal with as a coach.”