Coach Saban praises coach, players

Recently, Florida coach Urban Meyer addressed his team about what all is at stake the remainder of this season, things like beating Florida State, winning the SEC title and playing for and winning the BCS title. Alabama coach Nick Saban says he has not had "the talk" with his team about such things.

"I've never done that, but everybody has to do whats best for their situation," Saban said during his Wednesday post-practice media briefing. "They've got a team that's been (to the BCS championship game) before. Maybe that works for them."

"I've been a guy that wants our team to work everyday on getting better, and to go from being successful to being significant, but not lose sight of what you have to do to do it."

Though the word "Auburn" did not come up during the meeting, coach Saban did talk about how practices have gone so far as his top-ranked team prepares for the Tigers.

"Practice has gone pretty well," he said. "Guys who are nicked up are getting a chance to heal up. We're working against each other to try to improve fundamentally. Hopefully, we'll play better when the time comes."

There was an update on an injured player.

"Will Oakley had successful shoulder surgery and is definitely out the next two games," coach Saban said. "I don't know if he has a chance to get back for the bowl game or not."

Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson's pass attempts have gone down dramatically this year, but coach Saban cautioned not to read too much into that statistic.

"I don't think there's any conscious attempt on our part not to throw the ball as much. When we've had to throw the ball, we've been able to do it effectively. The most important thing we can do offensively is to create balance in what we do. We need some other players to step up for us on offense," he explained.

"In the past few games, we must have had six or seven passes called where [Wilson] ended up having to run the ball. It wasn't that we weren't calling passes, but our efficiency in the passing game is something we've needed to work on all year."

"Not about John Parker, but about pass-blocking and route-running. John Parker's decision-making has been good all year for us. We should be taking advantage of the fact that we're a good running team by being effectively able to throw the ball."

Wilson seems to have benefited from the addition of offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.

"Hes's a hard worker. He's done a good job. It means a lot to him," said coach Saban. "I think that when you're hiring people you're always looking for a fit. I think the most important thing about this hire is he's a good fit."

"Having the opportunity to do some due diligence on some people without so much speculation is good. It's helpful if you can go through a process without people making stuff up [about potential hires]."

One reporter wondered is junior running back Glen Coffee's on field improvement is a result of his Christian faith, a conversion Coffee made a year ago.

"I think all that is personal and private," coach Saban said. "I don't speak about that for anybody else, but Glen Coffee has been one of the best people that we've had in the program. He has certainly represented himself and his family in a positive way. When we came here, Glen didn't have a lot of confidence. He's made great strides, and we are pleased with the progress he's made."

Coach Saban added that junior tackle Andre Smith is a big reason for the Tide‘s success in the running -- and passing -- games.

"He's worked hard this year on his weight and his conditioning," he said. "He's played great this year. Joe Pendry [Smith's position coach] has done a great job in helping him develop. It's hard for me to think of anybody playing better at his position."

At least once per year, coach Saban is asked about the possibility of dynamic kick returner and cornerback Javier Arenas moving to offense.

"Not this year. That might be something we might think about in the future," coach Saban answered. "[Arenas'] plate's pretty full with the roles that he plays on our team. Maybe in the future we could build on other things."

Coach Saban, a coach known for his defensive savvy, was asked to evaluate the 2008 Bama defense.

"I think the defense has played fairly well on a pretty consistent basis," he said. "The biggest difference in our defense this year from last year is less mental errors and less big plays. Most teams that give up a lot of big plays aren't very good statistically. The most important statistic on defense is how many points you give up. I would rather statistically be sound in that area."

Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) will work out again Thursday afternoon, do some brief lifting Friday morning, and dismissed for the weekend before returning Monday for the official start of Iron Bowl week.

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