Saban Says Tide Needs To Improve
Alabama Coach Nick Saban was pleased that his team defeated Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference opener in Fayetteville Saturday. He allows his players 24 hours to enjoy a big win or rue a loss.
A coach doesn't get that luxury. Saban had begun thinking about Georgia as soon as the 49-14 win over Arkansas was secured. "We've got another game to get ready for," he said.
He said a key would be sustaining consistency.
"There are a lot of things we need to do to improve as a team," Saban said. "We're not throwing the ball as effectively as we need to. We have the ability to throw the ball more effectively. We just have to keep working at it." Alabama completed just six of 15 passes for just 74 yards with one interception (by back-up Greg McElroy) and one touchdown.
He said, "We need to be a better third down team." Alabama was only four of 11 on third down opportunities against Arkansas.
Saban said, "Defensively, we made a lot of mental errors today, especially in coverage type things and on third downs. That is probably why they kept the ball so much, especially in the first half, and why we got so tired on defense; even though we made some big plays and ran them back for touchdowns -- and that was great, and I'm happy about that and those were important plays in the game. But our down-in and down-out execution was not s good today as it has been in most games."
Arkansas was good on only five of 17 third down opportunities.
Saban did say that in spite of the defense being weary in the first half that he was pleased with the goalline stand just before halftime. "That is to be commended," he said.
Saban acknowledged that his team had "physical toughness and mental energy that we had going out there and the way we started the game."
He said, "This wasn't one of our best games in terms of overall execution, but we did control the line of scrimmage and we won the turnover battle and that was the big difference in the game."
Saban said Alabama's success running the ball (the Tide had 35 carries for 328 yards and four touchdowns) was in great part because of Bama offensive line dominance.
"They did a nice job today," Saban said of the offensive line. "We made some big-play runs and it was all because of the way we blocked them up front. We got a lot of movement. We pushed them. The backs did a good job of pressing the hole and making the cuts they needed to make and Glen Coffee had a great run on the 87 yard run. But the left side of the line, Mike Johnson and Smitty (Andre Smith) waxed them. I mean, they waxed them. We pressed it front side and cut it back. We are doing a good job in that regard."
Saban was also pleased that Alabama was penalized only one time for 10 yards, and gave credit to the players having discipline, having officials at practice, and coaches stressing playing penalty-free.
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