Saban Counting On Good Judgment

If for some reason you find yourself on Bourbon Strreet in New Orleans at 3 o'clock in the morning next week and you hear a whistle, don't expect it to be Coach Nick Saban. He's not going to be out keeping his Crimson Tide football players in line. In fact, he said, he plans to be in bed by 11 each night.

The subject of the temptations of New Orleans came up during Alabama Coach Nick Saban's meeting with reporters Monday following the Crimson Tide's practice. The Alabama football team spent its second straight practice working specifically on a talented Utah team in a two-hour workout Monday inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.

In questions about the dangers of players being on their own to get to New Orleans and the possibilities for problems once they get there, Saban said he will be trusting the judgment of his players.

Alabama is going to New Orleans to play Utah in the 75th annual Sugar Bowl Game on January 2. Kickoff in the Louisiana Superdome will be at 7 p.m. CST with national television coverage by Fox.

As for the travel, Saban said his players go home "all the time. We even have some who live in New Orleans." He said the players "are responsible people." He did reveal that players living within about a five hour drive of New Orleans were given the option of driving to the game, while those living more than five hours away were provided airline reservations.

As for the temptations of the French Quarter and other areas of New Orleans, Saban said the players have a part in setting a curfew through the peer group and that players will be given instructions on what to do and what not to do. But, Saban said, he is depending on the judgment of the players to make good decisions.

Alabama is 12-1 and ranked fourth in the nation and Utah is 12-0 and ranked sixth in the nation. Utah has won seven consecutive bowl games dating back to a 2001 win over USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"This is a very challenging team," Saban said following Monday's practice. "They may be as effective throwing the football, like a 68 or 69 per cent completion percentage, as anybody we have played all year. They have a very good passing efficiency. They have a very good quarterback and the receivers are all good route runners. Defensively, their front is probably as good as anybody we played, in terms of athleticism and ability to rush. They create a lot of problems for you, especially in passing situations. They play a lot of eight-man fronts. They are sound and solid on special teams. This is a lot better team than everybody thinks."

The Crimson Tide will practice on Tuesday morning before breaking for Christmas. Alabama will then meet in New Orleans on Saturday to begin on-site preparations for the Sugar Bowl.

Saban offered his best wishes to all for the holidays.

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