Every Alabama Player Must Be Ready To Go

How many men are on a football team? A lot more than 11. And this week in Alabama preparation for Saturday's football game against Georgia, the emphasis is on every member of the Crimson Tide.



"The message we are trying to get across this week is that it takes each of us to make a difference for all of us," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "This is not just for the guys that play. It's for the guy that has a role on the scout team, whether it's doing the kickoff return right so we can get a good picture. Whether it's running offensive plays so the defense can prepare or running defensive plays so the offense can prepare. Every man is important in his role."

Asked about the contributions of some players who were not in the 105 brought into fall camp (a team can have 105 until the start of classes, then increase the squad size), Saban said that some players did not report with the 105 for various reasons, including academic issues and injury. He repeated his belief that a team is strong when its last 40 players are strong, and said that it will be a goal to have a strong walk-on program. He also admitted that it was likely the staff did not know as much about this squad after having had only a spring practice as it would in future years. He said ideally it will be difficult to determine the 105, which is only 20 more than the 85 scholarshipped players permitted.

The coach added that his message this week on players making improvement and each player doing what he can do to make the team better "would be the same if we were 0-3 instead of 3-0."

Alabama worked for two hours in full gear Wednesday afternoon with concentration on red zone offense and defense and third down situations, plus review of Tuesday work on first-and-10, second-and-long, goalline, and short yardage situations.

The Crimson Tide, 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play, is ranked 16th in the nation. Bama will host 22nd ranked Georgia (2-1 overall, 0-1 in SEC games) at 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be telecast by ESPN.

Saban said, "Georgia is an outstanding team. (Coach) Mark Richt has done a fantastic job there in his tenure there of being consistently good, each and every year, game to game. They do a great job of executing on offense. They have a fine, young quarterback. They have good skill players and runners. Their defense is physical and fast. They are probably the fastest team and have more team speed than anybody we have played against so far. We want to try to get it right; it will take one of our best performances to play against an outstanding Georgia team here this week."

Saban also touched on a several injuries on the Alabama football team heading into this weekend's game. "(Senior linebacker) Darren Mustin did practice some today," Saban said. "We will probably make a game day decision on him, relative to how his strength comes back in his shoulder. D.J. Hall practiced today and is probably having less significant issues and is more probable unless he has something happen between now and then. (Placekicker) Leigh Tiffin is unaffected by what happened to him (shoulder). He is okay, I think.

"(Sophomore nose guard) Brian Motley is making good progress and will probably return to some drills and activity next week and if things go well, maybe the week past that, he may be ready to do some football-type work," Saban added. "That's not to say he will be ready to play then, but he is making rally good progress. (Tight end) Preston Dial bruised his shoulder (Tuesday) in 7-on-7 (drill) and he was not able to practice today. He will have to make a day-to-day decision on what he can do."

In last week's 41-38 win over Arkansas, Mustin went out in the first half with a "stinger," which involves nerve damage in the neck area. Saban pointed out that different players regain health at different rates. He pointed out that jack linebacker Keith Saunders had essentially the same injury later in the Arkansas game and was able to return to action "in about 15 minutes." And he pointed out that Mustin's ability to return will be based in great part on how his strength returns.

The coach said that if necessary, Prince Hall will play the weakside linebacker spot on the inside alongside middle linebacker Rolando McClain. He said that although Hall has been an inside linebacker playing middle linebacker, that the two positions are not the same.

Saban said that he is appreciative of all who contribute to Alabama football success, including the fans who make Bryant-Denny such a great atmosphere. He said, "We had a whole lot of recruits here Saturday night and I can't imagine they could go anywhere else and see that atmosphere."

Earlier in the day Saban took part in the weekly SEC coaches' teleconference. Among his comments:

On attitude of team after big win; does that help or hurt this week:

"I think there were a lot of lessons learned in the last game. I think when we got ahead 31-10 in the game we kind of let down. Arkansas is the kind of team that has had a lot of success and their players had tremendous resiliency to come back in the game. We didn't respond to that very well. We lost the momentum, but the game melted down a little bit in how we played in the game. We turned the ball over two plays in a row on offense. We didn't play very well on defense in a stretch of the game. So, there are a lot of lessons to learn that when we didn't do it right and we didn't have the psychological disposition, we did poorly.

"When we did do it right, early in the game and at the end of the game, it's a criteria for being successful. There are a lot of lessons to be learned. Hopefully we can take those lessons and build on them, but I think that is a work in progress with every team. I used to always say, if you play poorly and win, that is the worst case scenario for your team improving. Our players have responded well this week and worked hard and we're not disappointed at all in the preparation we have for this week's game."

On how Terry Grant's play has led to your success:

"I don't think there is any question that Terry Grant has done an outstanding job for us. I think it's critical, to where we have been able to get to this point in the season that he has played with consistency. I think the offensive line has done a very good job for him. He has done a very good job all around as a player in the way he has carried the ball and the yards that he has gained. I think that was a big question mark for our team coming in. I think they way Terry Grant has performed, the way Glen Coffee has performed, and Roy Upchurch has not had the opportunities, but when he has, he has done well. Jimmy Johns has done well. I think that group has been a real surprise to us. Obviously, they have been led by Terry Grant's production."

On the offensive line:

"They are performing well. We have a couple of really good players in Antoine Caldwell and Andre Smith. These guys are fine character guys. They are hard workers. They are physical, they are tough and they are good leaders. I think the rest of our offensive line has worked hard and improved. I think (assistant head coach and offensive line coach) Joe Pendry has done an outstanding job in helping these guys develop and they have executed well. That has been a real positive part of our team."

On putting team in certain situations and the mental aspect of the game:

"What we try to emphasize to the players is play the next play. Focus on the next play. Understand the situation. Look at the right things so you can execute and do what you need to do and don't let external factors in the game have any effect on what you're doing. Obviously in two-minute, at the end of the game offensively, we need to execute our plays. Throw and catch the ball. Receivers get open. Pass protection be good. The best way to do that is not worrying about scoring a touchdown, but just play the game play to play and if everybody do their job and that's going to give us the best chance to be successful and to score a touchdown.

"It's really still process driven, in terms of your physiological thought process and the situation that you dont't get affected by external things or external factors, that would make you not focus on what you are trying to get done in that particular situation. If you're playing man-to-man on defense and you've been looking at your man all game and now all of a sudden we have to get the ball back and one look in the backfield to try and tackle the guy instead of covering your guy, then they are probably going to throw the ball to your guy and we going to end up not being successful in that situation. So, it's discipline to focus on that particular play at that time and do the best job you can in that particular situation based on your focus of what you're doing."

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