Stuart McNair

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Tide will work on improvement

Every Alabama player has room for improvement said Coach Nick Saban

Although Monday’s media opportunity was for the Peach Bowl representatives to present Alabama with its official invitation to the College Football Playoff semifinal game in Atlanta against Washington on Dec. 31, the invitation was a formality since the CFP determines the opponents.
After the perfunctory presentation, including Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s part in the acceptance of the invitation, the Crimson Tide coach spoke both about the challenge and some specifics regarding his team and its preparation, which is to begin Friday.
Alabama is 13-0 and ranked first in the nation and will take on No. 4 Washington at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Saban said, “This is an opportunity that I'm so proud to be a part of, relative to what our team was able to accomplish this year. We're obviously playing one of the outstanding programs and outstanding teams in the country this year.
“{Washington) Coach (Chris) Petersen is obviously to me one of the best coaches in the country. He's done a marvelous job at the University of Washington. Their team has done an outstanding job this year of creating some big numbers on offense and being very tough to score against on defense. This is a very well coached, all around really good team that's going to be very, very challenging for our team.
“It should be a great game.”
Much is made of the additional time a bowl team gets in preparation time, and Saban said that would enable coaches to work with players on improving deficiencies. His answer came to a question regarding how the additional practice time might benefit freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts, but he said it is about more than the quarterback.
“I think it's a big time for all the players on our team,” he said. “We like to build our quality control work during this time so we can take each individual player and say, 'Okay, we're going to have some practices that are pretty much like camp practices when we get started on Friday and these are things that we would like for you to focus on improving on.’
“It's not just Jalen, even though he gets noticed a lot because he gets the ball every play and distributes it to every one on each play, and there's certainly opportunity for him to do some things to improve.
“I think that would be true for every player on our team at every position. That's something that we're working on this week as a staff, to try to do the best job of organizing so that when we do practice we can impact and help our players improve.”
He was also asked about Alabama’s injury situation, specifically cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who was injured in the last regular season game against Auburn and did not play in Bama’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Florida.
Saban said, ”We haven't had practice since then, so we're rehabbing the players that have any kind of injury issues. Marlon would be one of those guys that we're trying to get back. With the type of injury he has, I'm not sure that we'll know for sure what his status will be until we start practicing again. But we're hopeful that this is the type of injury that just rest will be very beneficial to him and he will able to participate fully when we get back to practice."
The Tide coach was asked about the leadership of his team as it relates to the playoff situation. He said, "I can't really answer that question. I can only say that the leadership on this team has done a really, really good job of playing these games one game at a time.
“Every team in the playoffs now may be 0-0. They're all very good teams. So you're kind of in a winner-take-all kind of mentality in terms of how you've got to play these games and how you need to approach these games.
“We've had good leadership on the team. I would expect that we would continue to have that.
“But that's sort of up to the players. I think when you get to this time of year and you're not on a regular routine, the team and the players make a determination to how they want to approach the 27 days until the next game, relative to how they worked out last week, how they worked out this week, how they're going to practice and prepare for this game.
“I think when those things occur, it tells you a lot about the intensity and readiness of the team. We'll just have to take these things day-to-day and try to help our players get the best position that they possibly can to have success in a very challenging game."

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