Saban Has Reasons To Be Happy

It has been pointed out many times that a coach like Nick Saban couldn't be more pleased than to have his team win but also have the squad make enough mistakes to have the full attention of the players when preparation begins for the next game. Thus it was Saturday.

Alabama defeated Georgia, 41-30, but the Tide had several mistakes in the kicking game and, by Coach Nick Saban's account, lost intensity in the second half. Those will be talking and coaching points as Bama prepares for an undefeated Kentucky team this week.

"It was a great win for the players and for the University of Alabama," Saban said. "I was really proud of our players. We had a really good first half. They put a lot into it. Georgia is a fine team. It was a real credit to our players that they were able to focus on what they had to do and not be distracted by external things. It was a great team win."

The coach said the first half performance was Alabama's best of the year. "It couldn't have come at a better time," he added. "I thought the first drive of the game set the tone. It gave us confidence and it took the crowd out of the game a little."

Saban said, "It was a little disappointing to lose the intensity at halftime anhd let the other team come back. There are lessons to be learned. Georgia is a fine team and it is a credit to them that they came back.

"If you lose intensity, it's hard to get it back."

The coach said there is a "lot to be done in the kicking game."

He emphasized that he considered it a great win and that he was happy "even if I don't look happy."

He said there are "lessons to be learned about playing in this league. It happened today, Ole Miss beating Florida. If you don't come ready to play and keep your intensity..."

Saban pointed out that Alabama "got beat 30-10 in the second half. We shouldn't be happy about that and it will be important that we learn from it. Players have to think about what happened when they played well and what happened when they didn't play well."

Saban had a typical coach's answer when asked about the possibility of Alabama being ranked number one. "It doesn't matter where we are until it ends," he said. "There is nothing to be gained by being number one right now. There are a lot of games to play. Kentucky is undefeated. (Alabama plays Kentucky Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium, 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS.) Then we have a bye week, then we play an Ole Miss team that beat Florida today."

Asked if Alabama was ahead of schedule, Saban was terse. "After five games?" he said. "We'll see when we have a whole body of work to judge. Can we finish games? We didn't today. Can we finish the season? Can we play with consistency."

Saban said the team did not get conservative in the second half. "We just didn't execute he said," pointing to a third quarter in which Bama failed to get a first down.

He said keys to the game were in the offensive and defensive lines. On defense, Alabama was able to control the line of scrimmage and stop the run with a seven-man front. On offense, Alabama's line "did extremely well against a very good defensive front."

He said freshman wide receiver "had a great game, a breakout game. He came up big." He said wide receiver Mike McCoy pulled a hamstring, but didn't have details.

Saban said, "We found ourselves throwing the ball more than we've had to do and we were efficient in passing. I was also pleased we put together two good drives in the fourth quarter to get a field goal and a touchdown."

He said quarterback John Parker Wilson "has done a good job all season of managing the game. Tonight he had no bad reads and made good decisions."

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