SABAN: Time for Tide to Re-Fuel, Re-Focus
"We've had three really tough games in three weeks," Saban said.
Two field goals of about 50 yards apiece by Leigh Tiffin and two blocked Tennessee field goals by one big man -- Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody -- provided the difference. Saban called those "huge plays" for a squad running on empty. "To get the blocked kick was a great effort. Cody and Marcell Dareus are very good at pushing inside," he said.
"I don't think we had much gas left in the tank," Saban said. "I think that our players have played hard, played physical, and have played with a lot of toughness."
Saban said some key losses, especially on defense, have resulted in other players having to log more plays than at the first of the year. He noted the absence of Damien Square on the line and Dont'a Hightower at linebacker has left the Tide thinner than he would like.
"We've got three different guys doing what (Hightower) did," Saban said, "but he was an outstanding player for us and our best pass rusher. Some of the things we're doing to generate pressure are leaving us open on the back end and we're going to need to work on that."
Saban called the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday "as fine an atmosphere to play a college football game in as I've ever been associated with."
Another injury loss hit the Tide just before kickoff on Saturday. Tight end Colin Peek injured his knee during pre-game warm-ups. Saban said he's hopeful that Peek will be back for the Tide's next game, against LSU in two weeks.
"Somebody fell on his leg in pre-game warm-ups and sprained his knee," Saban said. "I don't think it's a surgery (type injury). I think it's more like a strain on a ligament."
The bye week is coming at just the right time, Saban said, both from an injury standpoint and in time for the Crimson Tide to work on an offense that has sputtered lately. Saban said although the Tide was able to run out of the wildcat formation, he didn't want to rely heavily on it.
"We can't be so risk averse," he said. "We have to be confident in what we doing on offense right now. We need to create the balance we had earlier in the season and that's what we'll work on doing in the bye week."
Saban said that quarterback Greg McElroy "did a really good job of throwing to the right guy." He said the offense needs to throw downfield more because teams are playing to stop the run against them.
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