Saban Preaches High Standards

The media does not get to watch Alabama football practices. At least partly for that reason, post-practice questions for Coach Nick Saban are shots in the dark. Sometimes those questions are answered without comment. Sometimes they are met with disdain.

Sometimes the replies of Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban provide illuminations that go well beyond the question. Such was the case following Saturday's scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In the past, Saban has expressed concern over the "front seven" (linemen and linebackers). Asked about that group Saturday, Saban said, "We were okay. Yesterday we were horrible. Today we were pretty good."

He said, "We're up and down like a Yo-Yo sometimes. A guy does good and then the next day thinks he doesn't give the same effort."

Then he went further, deeper.

Saban has high standards, high expectations. Maybe that's why some consider him the best football coach in the college game, which figures into this Saban lesson.

He first pointed out that the players should "never be satisfied or relieved by what they did yesterday; tmaking an ‘A' on the mid-term and then taking two weeks off."

So what is the standard each player should measure himself against?

The world.

"The standard is relative to the world," Saban said. "It's relative to our conference, relative to everyone who plays football in America. Who's the best player and where would you come on that? So everyone's got a lot of work to do, everyone's got a lot of improvement to do, because I'd have a hard time saying that we've got anyone out there who's the best player in ball at his position.

"So that's the standard of excellence we're trying to get. Get every guy to play as well as he can play on a consistent basis. That's got to be the mindset. You either get better or get worse every day. You don't stay the same. Your mindset you take out there is very important.

"Discipline is a part of that. Mental conditioning, mental toughness, ability to deliver in a critical time, in a tough time of the game. That's what mental toughness is.

"And as soon as something goes wrong, you've got to be able to overcome adversity and focus on the next play. That's something we need to improve on and get more players able to do that on a consistent basis. That's what helps you to win.

"Today was a tough circumstance to build on that. We're not disappointed in what we did. We had a lot of opportunities out there to make plays that we weren't able to finish. That's one of the things we've been harping on our players about. Finish plays, finish games, finish the period. Be able to focus on the next play regardless of what the circumstances are. That's something we have not done as well as we need to.

"We've talked about this before: You never know when the game-defining play is coming up. So if you say this is the play I'm going to take a lapse on, this is the play I'm going to take a shortcut on, this is the play I'm not going to do it exactly like I'm supposed to do it on, then you're not going to be in position to make the play when you get an opportunity to make a play, and it may be a game-defining play because you never know when those plays are coming up.

"I think we should make it to our advantage whatever the circumstance is. So if it's raining outside, and it's a bad field, then our mindset should be that it's our advantage. Not that we can't do something in the rain. Whether it's throwing, catching, running, whatever it is. And that's why you have to put players in situations like that so they get that mindset. I hope we made some progress in that today."

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