Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide just came off a 52-6 win over Southern Cal, so naturally the Bama coach pointed out that he saw a lot of room for improvement following the beatdown of the Trojans in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday night.
He hopes to see some improvement when Alabama has its home opener at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium against Western Kentucky. (ESPN2 will televise the game.)
In a Labor Day press briefing (the Alabama head coach opened it by saying, “I guess being Labor Day, you all are happy to be working, right? Me too), Saban said, “After
looking at the film of the USC game, obviously we didn't get off to the kind of start that we wanted to. I think the first quarter was a little shaky on both sides of the ball.
“I think as the game went on we kind of settled into the game and responded and competed; played through some adversity. We need to play with a lot better consistency but we made some big plays, made some explosive plays on offense. The defense was pretty consistent throughout the game and I thought did a pretty good job of stopping the run and being able to play a lot of coverages that allowed us to minimize their explosve plays with some very good skill guys.
“Obviously the lesson to be learned is we want to be more ready to play, get off to a fast start. Start fast and finish strong is something that we talk about. And obviously being able to play with a little more discipline and consistency will help us become a better team.”
Saban then gave an example of what his players face, which he illustrated with an example of his personal weakness. That’s right. Nick Saban admitted to a weakness, even though those of the Crimson and White persuasion likely wouldn’t believe it.
Saban said, “When you start playing games _ people don't realize this, I don't care what position you play, what team that you play on, what unit you play on _ people really study what you do. They study your strengths, they study your weaknesses. They do things to take away what you can do, and you have to be able to improve through that as a player, whether it's individually or collectively as a unit, so that you can continue to have success and not get taken advantage of.”
And then came the revelation.
“The best example I can give is one of my own,” Saban said. “I was one of these outstanding high school baseball hitters. When I went to college, I thought I would be an outstanding college hitter. Because they never did a book when I was in high school, they never knew what pitches I couldn't hit. When they started doing the book in college and figured out that low outside slider, that I'd hit a weak ground ball to second base. Then the next thing you know, if you don't want to hit that pitch, that's all you see. I'm talking about the kind you don't even want to run to first base on.”
The lesson, he said, is, “You have to improve as a player and analyze and understand and know what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and work on overcoming those things individually and collectively as a team. That's something that we obviously need to do as a team right now.”
As for Western Kentucky, Saban said, “I think most people probably don't even know that they were a Top 25 team, finished ranked 24th in the country with a 12-2 record and actually won a bowl game and won their conference.
“They have a lot of starters back on that team, like nine on offense. Even though they lost the quarterback, they have a transfer quarterback who started at another Division I school.
“They've got really good skill guys. These guys play with a lot of toughness and energy. They've got a lot of confidence. They score a lot of points on offense. They've got one of the most prolific passing attacks that we're going to see and some very good players to implement. And they play really tough, physical defensive football. This is a good team.
“We had two teams in our league that actually lost to teams that were nowhere near this good [as Western Kentucky]. Nowhere near what they accomplished a year ago. Nowhere near the number of players coming back. (He noted a third team had to win in OT.)
“These are not things that we can take at all for granted. We need to get ready to play this game as if we're playing a really good football team.
“Because we are.”