Saban Message Won't Change For LSU
This week Alabama has what is considered one of the biggest games in college football. Big games come to teams that are undefeated and ranked number one in the nation, as the Crimson Tide is after nine games. This week the game is against LSU in Baton Rouge. Most would consider the game to be even bigger because of various side-plots:
LSU, 6-2, is the defending national champion, a crown Alabama is trying to earn and which would greatly enhance that possibility with a victory over the Tigers. LSU is ranked 15th in the nation, but its losses came at the hands of teams that were ranked in the top ten, Florida and Georgia.
Alabama is 5-0 in Southeastern Conference play and can win the SEC Western Division title with a win over LSU, which is 3-2 in SEC games.
And there is the little matter of Nick Saban returning to LSU, where he once coached, rebuilding the Tigers from also-rans to national champions. As thanks for his work in Baton Rouge, he has been vilified by much of the LSU fan base.
The game attracted CBS, which will televise the game nationally. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. CST. ESPN's College GameDay, the popular two-hour college football preview show, will also be on hand in Baton Rouge this weekend.
Following Alabama's Wednesday practice, Saban said, "I think the message to everyone is the focus needs to be on the game. The focus needs to be on what we need to do to play well on Saturday. The field is going to be 53-yards deep and 100-yards long like it always is wherever you play.
"They (LSU) certainly have a lot of good players and it is going to be challenging to us to play the kind of football to have success. The focus is every guy needs to prepare himself to play his best football."
Saban said the best chance to overcome adversity comes when players perform well on every play.
He said that the team needs to continue to practice well, but that players need to do things off the field as well as on the field, such as getting enough rest and getting themselves mentally and physically prepared to do their jobs.
Saban said that practice had been good and that the scout team had done a good job during the week. "We need to clean some things up," he added. Alabama will practice again Thursday, have a walk-through Friday, and then fly to Louisiana.
Asked if the Fourth Quarter Program, Saban's off-season program of strength and conditioning, paid dividends at this time of year, the coach said, "It should be a positive." He said he thinks it helps players "sustain over the course of the season" and that it plays a role in injury prevention. "It should help sustain down the stretch," he added. He also said that the players have worked hard, that they have been committed to the off-season program and the strength and conditioning work.
During the weekly SEC Teleconference with reporters, Saban was asked about how he had been able to turn Alabama's program around so quickly. This is Saban's second year as Alabama's head football coach.
He said, "We really don't have a timetable. We didn't have timetable, and we've never had a timetable. You take what you have and where you are and try to build on it. You try to make every person in the organization have an opportunity to be more successful as a person, as a student and as a player. You just take what you have and keep building on it. I think a lot of the players have made a tremendous amount of improvement, bought in (to the system), do things a certain way, work hard and make a commitment to a standard of excellence. We've been able to recruit some other players to complement them who have contributed in a positive way. There's not really a timetable, it's just where you are and get better. Our focus right now is we have a tough game coming up and we're looking forward and not backward.
"We had some good players. They've certainly made a lot of improvement and gotten bigger and stronger and worked really hard. I think we have better team chemistry, more togetherness, more guys committed to playing winning football on a consistent basis. Again, it is what it is. We had what we had. We worked with it. We build on it. We recruited around it and we've been able to make some improvements."
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