Heisman Talk Doesn't Include Tiders

There has been a lot of talk about the Heisman Trophy this week, but the only connection to the award for the nation's best college football player and Alabama has been whether the Crimson Tide can figure out a way to stop the leading candidate for the Heisman. And that's the only way the award is on the mind of Bama's head football coach.

In answer to a question Wednesday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban said his goals have nothing to do with the Heisman Trophy. "Our goals are more ‘Okay, guys, here's what we need to do to win.'

"I have tremendous respect for all the guys who have won the Heisman Trophy," Saban said. "Most of those guys were on winning teams. Most of those guys had tremendous production because of their own ability, but they also had good players [around them] that enhanced their chances of having success to showcase those abilities."

Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. The closest the Tide has come is former wide receiver David Palmer finishing third in 1993, his junior season. Palmer would have been the leading candidate for the honor in his senior season, but he elected to enter the NFL draft.

Saban said, "It would be great to have a Heisman Trophy winner here. It would be exciting for our school, our program, our team.

"But that's not something you would put down as a goal to have a successful program or a winning team, because there have been a tremendous amount of teams that have been successful and had winning teams and won championships and didn't have a Heisman Trophy winner."

Alabama is probably the nation's most successful program to never had had a Heisman Trophy winner. But backing up Saban's point, the Crimson Tide ranks among the leaders in national championships and victories and winning percentage.

Saban emphasized, "I do really, really respect the award and think being the best player in college football – there are a lot of good players – is a tremendous honor."

The goal of Saban and the Alabama team this week will be to try to put the brakes on the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, tailback Darren McFadden of Arkansas. As Saban pointed out, McFadden has good players around him. The Razorbacks are ranked 16th in the nation.

To that end, Saban said, "We are really working hard this week to stay focused on the task at hand. This is a very challenging team, in terms of preparation. They play a very aggressive style on defense. It's going to be really important that we execute in all areas offensively, being able to run the ball effectively and pass the ball effectively, and we will get a lot of man-to-man coverage. So, it is important that everybody do his job and we have to do a good job or protecting, because we are going to get a lot of pressure."

Wednesday's two-hour practice in full gear emphasized work on red zone offense and red zone defense and third down situations, plus a review of Monday and Tuesday sessions.

He said, "Our practices have gone well. I thought today's practice was pretty good, in terms of what we are trying to get done out there. We have made constant progress and improvement. Not that we ever thought there was anything wrong with it, we just struggled a little bit in the last game from a passing standpoint. That happens sometimes. We overcame it by being able to control the ball in other ways. But, that's got to be an integral part of what we do, relative to the skill people that we have."

The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks will meet Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN, with Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline reporter) describing the action. The kickoff time is scheduled for 5:52 p.m. (CDT). Alabama is 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas opened up with Troy a couple of weeks ago and had an open date prior to its SEC opener.

Most of the talk is on the Arkansas tailback situation where the Razorbacks also have an excellent alternate back in Felix Jones. Alabama has had good tailback production from redshirt freshman Terry Grant, who is leading the SEC in rushing. There had been some concern about Grant's back-up because both Jimmy Johns and Glen Coffee had been nursing minor injuries. Saban said both were back at practice Wednesday.

Also on the injury front, Saban said that placekicker Jamie Christensen is back doing some kicking, but is not full strength yet. "He's kicking extra points," Saban said. "He's making progress. He's coming along slowly, but we're pleased with his progress."

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