SABAN: Bama Not Consistent Enough to Beat LSU
Talent won out when LSU rallied for a 41-34 victory over the Crimson Tide despite penalty after penalty and mistake after mistake from LSU, and a bone-headed attempt by Les Miles to try to draw Alabama offsides on fourth and inches that backfired and resulted in Alabama's go-ahead touchdown.
Despite a more crisply played game than LSU, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban was disappointed with too many breakdowns on the Alabama side.
"My hands are bruised from smacking them together when we did the wrong things," he said. "Sometimes there's no consequence until it's somebody who's as good or better than you and then there's always a consequence. If we want to beat a team like we played tonight, we need to have a better premium on doing better all the time with consistency."
Saban also said it was hard to "scheme" a running game against LSU's front seven.
"How do you think we did?" he snapped when asked about the inability to block LSU's mammoth Glenn Dorsey. "We had 20 yards rushing. Do I have to answer that question? I said that several times on the headset. I said ‘Why don't we run the other way because we're not blocking 72. There's four hands on the ground. If you block him you've still got to block the other three. The linebackers are good too. It's hard to scheme for all seven of them.
"We didn't scheme well and we didn't execute the scheme well, however you want to say it. But I really like your term scheme that really impresses me."
Saban also balked at the notion that the players wanted to win the game for him since he previously coached at LSU and recruited many of the players still helping LSU to win.
"They didn't want to win the game for me, now," he said. "Nobody talked about that, The players should have wanted to win game for themselves, it had nothing to do with me I'm coach of this team no one's ever said that. I told them I didn't want them to win it for me. It was their game. It ain't got nothing to do with me. "
"I don't coach LSU any more," Saban said. "I coach Alabama and I'm going to do a good job of coaching Alabama and we're going to recruit good players and we're going to have a good program."
Alabama linebacker Darren Mustin confirmed his coach, noting that Saban wouldn't have said that "because it doesn't make sense. He's a coach. He's not a player. If he were a player who had transferred here I could see it. But he's a coach. All he does is coach his butt off during the week and trying to get us ready to play. It's the 11 out on that field that have to go do it."
A big bust came on fourth and four when LSU quarterback Matt Flynn hit Early Doucet for a 32-yard touchdown. Alabama's Javier Arenas, the outstanding return man who scored another kick return touchdown Saturday night and who is a player Nick Saban regularly singles out for doing things right, was burnt on the play.
"We're supposed to be pressing the guy on fourth and four and we're messing around like we're going to blitz," the Alabama Coach said. "It wasn't supposed to be done that way. You've got to cover one of the best players in college football. We have to understand it's about what we do and what we don't do that will determine the future."
The inexperienced Arenas has received more playing time as of late at the expense of Lionel Mitchell, whose playing time has dropped off dramatically.
"There's a certain way you're going to do it, and if you're not going to do it that way you're not going to play," Saban said. "You're going to practice it that way."
Alabama safety Rashad Johnson, who Saban pointed to as one of his more consistent players said that philosophy has brought Alabama's confidence level up. "He's just going to keep preaching it," Johnson said. "After a while you learn that you gotta do it the way he wants it done or you won't be out there."
Saban also cited Alabama's inability to run the football and too many defensive lapses as the difference in the game. The lack of a running game forced Alabama's offense into second-and-long and third-and-long most of the night.
"Those are more blitz and pressure downs," Saban said. "They blitzed and pressured and we can't block it. We did take advantage and make some big plays because of the way they play it but we did get sacked seven times -- not always on blitzes but because we couldn't get them blocked."
"They weren't overloading the box and we still couldn't run it," he said. "I'm not being critical of the players here I'm saying we didn't get it done the way we needed to."
Saban and Miles exchanged pleasantries after the game, Saban said, with the Alabama coach congratulating Miles and Miles telling Saban, "Good job." Saban did spend some time with speaking with some of his old players.
"I talked to a lot of the players after the game and congratulated them," Saban said. "I know a lot of those players. We recruited them and know their mommas and dads and its hard. The initial feeling was, it was like playing against someone who is in you family. I'm proud of them and I hope they're doing well."
"You can't just throw that away," he said. "It doesn't go away. I love our players more. We're with them every day and we're trying to help the every day to be successful. I just can't throw away my relationship with guys I know. After we started competing that wasn't an issue in the game. I was focused on what we needed to do and I'm sure they were focused on what they needed to do and we were happy to say hello after the game."
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