Tide Players Now Have To Move On

Almost everyone outside the lines thought the Alabama-LSU game was about Alabama Coach Nick Saban. Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, it turned out to be more about players Saban recruited for LSU a few years ago. It was those players, primarily, who made the plays that allowed the LSU Tigers to escape from Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 41-34 win over the Crimson Tide.

Both Alabama Coach Nick Saban and LSU Coach Les Miles emphasized in the week leading up to the game and afer the contest that the game was "about the players."

Alabama senior linebacker Darren Mustin said, "We just couldn't finish the little things," he said. "It hurts pretty bad but you can't have a hangover from this for the whole season. We have to get our stuff together and learn from this over the next 24 hours and get ready for the next few games we have."

Mustin wasn't the only Tider to mention Saban's "24-hour rule," that requires Alabama players to get a win or loss out of their systems in one day's time. With Daylight Savings time arriving, it actually became a "25-hour rule" on this "fall back" weekend.

"All of them (losses) are tough to come back from," said Tide defensive back/kick returner Javier Arenas. "Losing the game is tough. Losing or winning, it's always tough. When you're happy you celebrate and it's hard to get back on track and focus on the next game. Winning or losing, it is tough to get back and get focused."

Though the official participation chart didn't show it, it appeared that Arenas made the first start of his year in the secondary as cornerback Lionel Mitchell was benched for the second time this year. Arenas and his mates fought back from an early 17-3 LSU lead. "We were real positive," Arenas said. "We knew what we are capable of. We knew the mistakes we were making. It was what we did not do because of what they did. We knew that we just had to make those adjustments mentally and physically. We knew we had to make the right plays and do the right things. We did just that and it happened. We came back." Arenas' late 61-yard punt return gave Bama a 34-27 lead it couldn't hold with half a quarter to play.

Bama's players insisted they wanted to win the game for themselves, not just their coach who was once LSU's coach.

"We knew it was important for our coach but it was more important to us as players," said senior receiver Keith Brown, who caught a pair of touchdown passes but had a big drop on the Tide's final snap. "Go out there and win the game. As you know, things didn't go our way.

"We play one play at a time. Every play has its own history. We just play our game. We just have to execute. Those guys made great plays. We have great receivers who can make great plays. That was our thought the whole game. They would get up and it was like ‘Let's go answer the phone and go back out there and do what we do best'. It was just a great game all around."

Quarterback John Parker Wilson agreed. "No, we could care less about that," he said of the Saban aspect. "It was probably more of an issue for their players because he coached and recruited some of them, but it wasn't really on our minds."

Senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry concurred, saying that Saban reminded the team it was about them, not him. "We knew that going in; I knew that but to hear him say that to us let us know that it was serious," Gilberry noted. "It wasn't about him; it was definitely about us, and what we did and didn't do determined the outcome of the game."

Wilson lost the ball on a sack late in the game to set up the Tigers' winning score. "It was tough," he said. "We made some good plays, but we just didn't make enough.We had our chances; we had plenty of chances to win, but we just didn't make the plays. They made plays. They are a good defense. We just have to go back and look at what we did good and obviously we did a lot of things that were not good, but it was a tough game. We had a chance to win. We just didn't do it"

Gilberry said causing three Tiger turnovers helped keep his Tide in the game. "It was big," he said. "It was definitely big at the time, but a loss is a loss. I could sit here and make tons of excuses, but that's not really what it's all about.We didn't execute and we lost our mental focus at times, and they took advantage of it."

Junior safety Rashad Johnson led the Tide in tackles with nine. "I think we played fairly well, but as always we are going to go in and look at the tape, and there are going to be some corrections to make, things we all did wrong," Johnson said. "We gave up some plays in the secondary that nobody's happy about.We just need to work on those things for next week."

Johnson said LSU's tying touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Early Doucet may have been a miscommunication. "I think they might have had a busted call because the tight end and the receiver who caught the ball, Early (Doucet), both ran in-routes from opposite sides. I was covering the tight end and when I saw the ball thrown I thought he might knock it down, but Early made a great catch then made a defender miss and scored."

LSU coach Les Miles said it was a matter of cashing in on mistakes, by both teams. "We had a number of opportunities to win and the opponent had the same number of opportunities, and we just have to win it one more time than the opponent and that is what we did today, " Miles said. " I don't know if I have been around a game where we have played this poorly - and made mistake after mistake and, yet, come out with a victory. We need to correct some mistakes and improve and, if we do, this team can be something special. That is the task at hand. I don't know if we have played this poorly but, if we are going to play this poorly, it's good to win.

"Give Alabama some credit, they are a talented team, there is nothing wrong with that team. We can't make mistakes. We have to distance ourselves from our opponents and not give them 130 yards in penalties."

LSU overcame Flynn's three interceptions to come back and win. "We were having success throwing the ball during those three interceptions," Flynn explained. "It's not like they were completely stopping us. We just threw a couple of bad plays. I know I was seeing the defense. I never lacked confidence. It doesn't matter if something good happens or something bad happens you just have to play. You just have to forget about it and keep reading the plays.

"This team is just tough. We've got so many older guys and so many leaders on this team that they just come out there every day and work hard. It doesn't matter what's happening in the game, they just overcome adversity and find plays. I've said it before - I'm just extremely glad to be a part of this team."

Probably no Tiger was happier with the win than Mobile native Chevis Jackson, who had an early interception. "It means a lot to get this win," said Jackson, a senior NFL prospect at cornerback. "We beat Alabama and Auburn this year. Any time we play Alabama it's a battle. We had a lot of mistakes there at the end but we played well enough to come out with a win."

"I give the credit to the coaches and the players. We just come out and play every day.We have a lot on the line this year and we're just trying to win it all." As for the win helping the Tigers get in position to play for a BCS title, Jackson said, "We try not to look at anything like that. Coach (Miles) tells us that it does n't matter where you're at right now, it matters where you're at at the end of the season. We really don't pay much attention to that right now."

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