Saban Discusses Tide Post-Tulane
"Good teams play with a lot of consistency," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said Monday. "That's what I'd like to see. When you have a reputation as a good team, everyone is going to bring his ‘A' Game to play against you.
"Tulane did a great job of that, I think," Saban said. "I don't think we did."
Nevertheless, Alabama moved up a couple of spots in this week's Associated Press poll. Bama is 11th in the nation this week. The Crimson Tide continues with non-conference play and has its second consecutive home game this week. Alabama will host Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only television availability will be pay-per-view.
Saban said, "The big thing [vs. Tulane] was we didn't execute things the way we needed to. I think that was fairly obvious. [C]onsistency and execution come from mental energy, intensity, enthusiasm which come from purpose and respect. These things get done week in and week out based on what you do every day. Every thought, every decision, how you prepare--all those kinds of things.
"[O]ur offensive problems were caused by, not the plays that were called, but a lack of execution. Not blocking the plays correctly, not blocking the pass protections correctly and defensively we gave up plays. A couple third down plays, a couple big plays in the game we broke down defensively. We broke down a little bit too in terms of what we need to do defensively to stop them and get off the field. Not being on the field for the long drives. On a couple long drives they were able to engineer we had plenty of opportunities to get off the field on third down.
"It is one of those ‘Do you believe me now?' type of things with the players in terms of there are no breathers in college football. You need to respect the opponents. It is what we harped all last week. Game before is over, you can't be affected by that you have to focus on what is happening now and what is happening in the future and be ready to go play.
"You have to develop a killer instinct that comes from playing to your capacity and that is where your burning desire is to be as good as you can be. You can't be indifferent in who you are playing. You can't be indifferent about the circumstances in the game. You can't be indifferent about your preparation and that is something this game is going to hopefully give our players an opportunity to learn."
Saban said, "The good news is everything that didn't go well in the game is all correctable. Players have shown an ability to do it. The key is that they learn their lesson well and that we go execute better in the future with more consistency."
Saban said special teams "played really well." He said Javier Arenas "was outstanding in punt return. Obviously a lot of people on special teams contributed to that. Our drive starts on kickoffs were better. Kickoff coverage was a little bit better. We made improvements in the kicking game. It was a bit of a problem when we lost Leigh Tiffin for a little bit in the game, missing an extra point, missing a field goal, but we still need to make improvements in every phase of the game and that is certainly what we will focus on during this week with our players."
On the injury front, Saban said three players who suffered head injuries against Tulane—Arenas, tiffin, and linebacker Charlie Higgenbotham—had all been cleared. Offensive guard Marlon Davis had a hamstring injury, but was expected to practice Monday.
Two players who missed last week are continuing to be day-to-day. They are All-America offensive tackle Andre Smith (knee) and wide receiver Earl Alexander (foot).
Saban said, "Western Kentucky has a good program and a good team, they win a lot of games and have had a lot of success in the six years that (Coach) David Elson has been there. They run the spread offense which is a little bit of a problem because it is totally different than what we have played against to this point. It is going to be a whole new preparation for the defensive players which will hopefully be challenging to them. They have played pretty well on defense. They have 14 starters back and a lot of experienced players. They have some explosive players who can make plays on special teams, they have a very good running back that gained over 1,000 yards."
Saban said, "You need to respect your opponent, you need to prepare, you need to go out and play with the kind of intensity, enthusiasm, sense of urgency to make plays because all you have to do is look at the scoreboard every week in college football. Every week it happens to someone, sometimes more than one. It is all about mindset and getting ready to play your best football. That is something we are going to have to continue to work on so that we show consistency in our performance." Saban's comments on various topics:
On the passing game struggles:
"We had a couple opportunities on offense but we missed a couple big plays. We had guys open, we overthrew them. Early in the game I don't think the pass protection was what it needed to be. But I also think that we didn't play well in the passing game as a group. The receivers didn't run good routes, we didn't play fast, we missed a hot, we missed a pick up by a back, it was all not just the offensive line. The receiver break hot when he is not hot. Your counting on your guys doing what they are supposed to be doing so you have a chance to execute and once that doesn't happen that puts a lot of doubt in people's minds. I don't think we executed very well. If you are going to play well at quarterback the people around you need to execute well. I don't think we got enough consistency in that for anyone to play well at that position and they didn't do anything different than we prepared for and I am sure that if you asked John Parker (Wilson) he would say he could play a lot better but at the same time the people around him need to help him play better too. We need to show a little more leadership as a group so that if we do flatten out we can bounce out of it. The one thing that I did see is there was no negative attitude on the sidelines. We may not have had the enthusiasm that we needed, we may not have had the intensity we needed but the players worked hard to fight through it and they sustained it and that is probably why we found a way to win. "
On where the team is at after Clemson and now Tulane:
"It tells me that we don't have the maturity to sort of take ownership and responsibility for playing at a high standard all the time, which is what you would like your team to do. We have to continue to work with our players to get that. We didn't show that maturity in this game and it is something we need to work on."
On visiting with the Tulane team:
"We made one of our rooms in the stadium available to them and fed them after the game. They couldn't get back to their dorms until early the next morning. First of all they went through a tremendous sacrifice to even come here and play the game. They are away from their fellow students, friends, family; out of school for a week worrying about a weather situation that could impact them dramatically one way or the other. To me they must have prepared well because they played really well in game. They played with a lot of intensity and toughness in the game and I respect that in all competitors. I told them that I appreciated them for making a sacrifice to play the game and to make the sacrifice and play as well as they did was something that did not go unnoticed by us and that we held what they did in high esteem. I wished them well on the rest of their season and told their coaches they did a fantastic job of keeping their team together through the adversity that they had to face in preparation for the game."
On the reaction to the recruiting tapes of Terrence Cody and Mark Ingram:
"We evaluate all the guys and there is no perfect player. Certainly we were out there looking for a nose guard type and there were a couple other guys that we recruited that might fit the bill. Some of them didn't qualify and we hope will qualify in the future. But Terrence was a guy that certainly had the size and initial quickness. We knew what his problem was in terms of conditioning relative to his ability to sustain and that was our big issue. Stevon Moore, who is the defensive coordinator at Gulf Coast, played for us at the Cleveland Browns and was a very good player, very strong, tried to help us a little bit to get him in shape and not get to out of whack relative to his weight so that when he came here and reported we would get him to a point where he could play and sustain. He did a good job of that, Terrence did a good job of that, hence we got him down to 365. Still we would like to improve that part of his game and he is working hard on that and we are working hard with him to try and do it.
"Mark Ingram was a really good player in high school. You could see he had the ability to make cuts and accelerate out of a cut. Because of the way he is built, he ran with some power so he is a great combination guy and really a complete back. He has good track speed and has good hands. Either one of these guys were easy to see that if we got them in the right circumstance they could be productive players."
On the number of freshmen that have played:
"We are just playing the best players. If we think a guy is going to play and make a contribution to the team then we go ahead and play them. It is a great opportunity for a lot of freshmen on our team because we lack depth at certain positions and those guys are getting an opportunity to play. We have some other positions where some freshmen get an opportunity to play in the near future. Some other freshmen may be affected by how much they play relative to someone's injury. This is not premeditated, if they practiced they are playing because they deserve to play because they are the better guys, they are the better back up, so we have to go ahead and make a choice to play them on special teams or at their position. I would like to get to the point where we redshirt most of our freshmen and only have a few guys that go out there each year to play because you have enough depth on your team that you don't have to play them. I think this year some of these guys are playing because they deserve to play based on the competition and because we were thin which created a great opportunity for them. "
On how the freshmen handled a high point and a low point:
"They don't know what to expect. They didn't know what to expect in the first game. Obviously they made some mistakes and played with some high anxiety relative to it being their first college football game. I think some of those guys made a huge improvement and I think everybody is in a little bit of a different state of psychological flux in terms of where they are. Some guys are managing it well in terms of what their roles are and some guys are frustrated for a good reason – they want to play more. They have to manage their frustration so it doesn't affect their performance."
On where the defense stands at this point of the season (not giving up a touchdown):
"It is good to be hard to score on. We gave up some long drives this last game even though we got them stopped in the red area. There were a couple circumstances where they got the ball in good field position and we got out of it which is a real positive in terms of making an adaptation to sudden change in a game which shows leadership, confidence, maturity and playing tough in the red zone when things get thick is probably a good sign. Some of the errors and mistakes that we made to get them there are things that we definitely need to get corrected. I think we need to continue to improve on defense because we are certainly going to see some outstanding offensive players, some outstanding offensive teams and we haven't gotten a lot of turnovers. There are a lot of things that we can improve on. There are a lot of things that contribute to winning that we need to improve on defensively."
On Rolando McClain's development:
"He played really well in the last game. His leadership is something that is a real positive for the defensive team. I think he affects the other players in terms of how he plays. He has played two really good football games. He had over 30 production points in this last game which is a lot of production in one game. He makes his few mistakes like most of the guys do and there are certainly things that he needs to continue to work on but that is the one thing he usually does. He is a conscientious guy. He likes to get it right and he wants to understand what his job is and he goes out there and tries to do it."
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