Saban Doesn't Expect Good Night's Sleep

Alabama Coach Nick Saban didn't expect to get a good night's sleep after going through another nail-biter of a football game. The Crimson Tide held on to win 30-24 over Houston in a homecoming game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.



Nick Saban could afford a light moment as he began his address to media following the Alabama victory. "I have a message for everyone," he said. "When we play, don't leave early. We're going to make it interesting. We have guests here, we have recruits here. We want everyone to be entertained."

Saban said he enjoyed the homecoming experience, going to the pep rally Friday night "and get a feel for the spirit here and the passion people have....It's a great home win and we are happy bwe are able to contribute our part of it, even though it was a little closer than it needed to be."

The Tide coach pointed out that this is the second game Alabama has had a 23-0 lead and a 31-10 lead and allowed the opponent to come back "because we don't continue to play offensively. We didn't play with the same intensity as a football team or with the same aggressiveness. You try to tell the guys to play for 60 minutes, to pay no attention to the scoreboard because it means nothing. Play the play and dominate the guy you are lined up against and don't worry about the scoreboard."

Saban said the Tide lost some of its intensity in the second quarter and didn't play well in the second half offensively. "We had to play far too many plays defensively in the second half," he said.

Alabama had 45 offensive plays and 29 defensive plays in the first half, but only 28 offensive plays and 47 defensive plays in the second half.

He pointed out that if the offense had knocked Houston out that more people would have been able to play. "We don't have much depth," he said. "It would have been an opportunity to let a lot of people play. We had guys who were dog tired."

Saban was also clear that Houston deserved a lot of credit for Alabama's difficulties. He said the Cougars had particularly good skill position players.

Saban pointed to the defense for making two interceptions late in the game. He was also pleased with the sacks by the defense, but noted that several times Houston was able to make a play when Tide defenders seemed to have a man in the grasp. He also pointed to "more penalties than we should have."

But Saban has said he is a "glass half full guy." He said, "We have to continue to work together as a team and to fight as a team. I like this team a lot. Ijust think we have to learn to do some things better."

On offense, he said, the Tide must take what the defense gives. But, he noted, when Houston fell behind, the Cougars were "throwing caution to the wind in the second half. We had some ways to take advantage of it and didn't always execute."

Saban said he wouldn't second guess the offensive play-callers, pointing out that the plays go though the head coach and he could change them.

The Tide coach said it was "frustrating" to score 23 points in the first quarter and only seven points in the last three quarters. "We've got to get it fixed," he said. "We need to have more diversity. We've got to take what the defense gives us. We have to have faith, trust, and confidence in our players and when they get the chance to execute, we've got to execute. We can't just run the ball. In this day and age of football, you've got to be a very dominant team. The more points they put up there, the more we should have been passing. And we've got to believe in the player being able to make plays."

Saban said on the last play, because of the Houston quarterback's ability to run, that the decision was made to blitz and force a quick throw. "We covered them up in the end zone, and Simeon Castille made a play."

Saban said that Glen Coffee started because he had been doing well and earned the right to play more. He said, "Sometimes a guy is running good and you want to run him more, and he was doing pretty good." He said that all three Tide tailbacks -- Coffee, Terry Grant and Roy Upchurch -- were doing well and in an "ideal world" they would all get about the same number of carries.

He said that freshman linebacker Rolando McClain didn't get the start for the first time this year because Houston's offense is so complicated that McClain was having problems with it. More experienced linebackers Prince Hall and Darren Mustin started in the middle. "I've never coached against this many multiples," Saban said. "I didn't sleep very well this week. There were a lot of calls to be be made and we have two guys with experience who understand the sub packages better. We decided to take the load off (McClain). When he got a chance to play, he did well."

Saban said that Tyrone King had played in the secondary because Ali Sharrief, ordinarily the sixth back in the dime package, suffered a neck injury.

Marlon Davis did not start at right guard after missing a couple of days due to a death in the family. Saban stressed that Davis was not penalized for missing practice, but rather that others were rewarded for the work they had done. Antoine Caldwell "can play any position on the offensive line" and played right guard, while Evan Cardwell got the start at Caldwell's normal center position.

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