Alabama Coach Nick Saban hopes last game provides learning experience

Alabama Coach Nick Saban had hoped to build momentum before Auburn game

Alabama Coach Nick Saban didn’t try to put lipstick on the Crimson Tide’s pig of a game last Saturday as Bama took a 31-3 win over FCS opponent Chattanooga. And in his regular Monday press briefing he pointed out the lack of consistency “at the level we had hoped to or wanted to.”
Now Saban hopes that his team can learn “from that experience in terms of how we can get better and also to move forward and look forward to the challenge that we have ahead of us, which is really the legacy of the season relative to what we can accomplish and what we can do and the meaning of this game that we play against our rival.”
Alabama is the No. 1 team in the nation with an 11-0 overall record and has clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title with its 7-0 league record. The Tide will play Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3.
This Saturday Bama hosts Auburn (8-3 overall, 5-2 in SEC games) at 2:30 p.m. CST with CBS televising the game.
It is Senior Day — the last home game for 23 Bama senior players — and they will be honored Saturday. Saban pointed out that the seniors have a 48-5 record, which is “pretty admirable.”
Saban said the Auburn game “certainly is a lot to look forward to a lot to prepare for, a lot to get ready for.
“That's where our focus needs to be.
“I think this is one of the greatest rivalry games in the country. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in this state as well as nationally and the competitors in the game probably enjoy this kind of competition, this kind of rivalry as much as any game that they play.”
(Saban’s comments on Auburn from his Monday press briefing are in a separate story.)
The Tide coach was asked if the inconsistent play of his team last Saturday can be a good thing insofar as providing a “teaching moment.”
Saban said, "I can't really assess that. I think that you've got to kind of play the cards that you're dealt.
“We said (prior to the Chattanooga game) we'd like to create momentum in the game and confidence but I think if you're a good competitor and you're not pleased with the way you played, you should respond and react to that.
“So how to balance all that and know what's better or worse, I really don't know.
“I know that as a coach we want to do everything we can to help our players play better. None of them want to go out there and not play well, and it's our responsibility to try to get them to play well. If they don't, it's our responsibility to help them do that. If they didn't, it's our responsibility that they didn't. I'm certainly not pointing a finger at any players. I think that we just didn't play our best, to the standard that we'd like to play to. We need to get that corrected."
Saban was asked about the health of several players, notably All-America left tackle candidate Cam Robinson, starting right guard Korren Kirven — both of whom were injured with what were described as shoulder injuries against Chattanooga — and tailback Bo Scarborough, who was held out of the last game.
As for the offensive linemen, Saban said, “I think those guys are better than expected. I don't know that they'll be able to practice [Monday], but hopefully we'll have everybody back to practice [Tuesday].”
As for Scarborough, Saban said, “Bo should be back in this week. Bo could have played in the last game. We made a decision. I talked to Bo before the game. He practiced, he wanted to play. I said 'We're going to use you in the game if we need you,' which to me meant that if one of the other guys got hurt and we needed another runner in the game, we would have played him. He should be fine this week and able to practice a little bit more and maybe get himself a little more game-ready."
Saban was asked the about the offensive line, which seemed to have an off-night against Chattanooga, and about the Bama defense, which has not allowed a touchdown since the second quarter of the Texas A&M game on Oct. 22.
As for the offensive line, Saban reminded, “I said Thursday night on my radio show, if I had to say what was the most improved part of our team, that was it. But I don't think that we played especially well in this past game and I certainly think that we'll have to play a lot better in this game against the quality of people that we're playing against to be effective."
Regarding defensive success, Saban said, "I think the guys have played well together. They have a good competitive spirit. They've prepared pretty well. I think they have a lot of pride.
“But this is going to be the most challenging group that we've faced, probably, in terms of the multiples of things that they do and how we need to adjust and how people need to be responsible and doing their job. That'll be a real key to it.
“It doesn’t really matter what we've done in the last three weeks. It matters what we do the next week and that's really what we're focused on here."
He also said that wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, who was suspended for last week’s game, “is fine if he does what he's supposed to do. He'll be fine this game."

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