SABAN: We Have More Work to Do

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban probably let out a huge sigh of relief Saturday night. With its win over LSU, Bama got past its toughest remaining regular season opponent, clinched a place in the Southeastern Conference Championship game against Florida, and moved another step close to its ultimate goal of a National Championship.



Saban also made perfectly clear that there's no rest for those seeking that goal.

Asked if he was comfortable speaking about clinching Bama's second consecutive division championship, Saban said, "No".

"Because really, we have a lot of games left to play, and we want to take those games one at a time," he said. "It was a great victory, and we're proud of them, but we always tell our players they've got 24 hours to enjoy this one and get ready for the next one. We've got an opponent next week. They're a good opponent, and we respect them, and we're going to have to do a good job of getting ready."

Late in the game the coach angrily spiked his headset in the turf when sophomore receiver Julio Jones mistakenly didn't get off the field causing a crucial illegal substitution penalty, but Saban was thrilled to have the star receiver back in good form after struggling earlier in the year. It was Jones' 73-yard sprint for a touchdown on a screen play that put Alabama up for good in the game.

"Julio is an outstanding player," Saban said. "The last game two weeks ago was probably the first time he looked like his old self in terms of having the juice and burst; he played a good game then and played good game tonight."

Saban said that he obviously wants to continue to have Julio clicking, but also said he was proud of the way the other receivers had played. Those players will be needed to give Alabama's offense the balance it needs going forward, Saban said.

After being almost completely reliant on the running game for offense in the past three games, a return to balance was a primary mission for the Tide Saturday night. Bama started the game with seven consecutive passes, and at the half had 14 pass attempts and 16 rush attempts. That forced LSU to be wary of the pass, Saban said, allowing the TIde space to run in during the second half.

"I think that's how we want to play offense here," Saban said. "It's important that we use the midde of the the field and utilize all our players. Even when you don't hit (long passes down the middle) it affects the other team's defense. I've worked with corners a long time and whether (receivers) catch it or not they know if they got beat, and it affects them."

Saban said he thought Bama might have trouble running inside against LSU, but "with the resilience our players showed as the game went along we got moree and more control of the line of scrimmage, and more and more control of the game."

Saban called Saturday's game at Bryant-Denn "a tremendous atmosphere to play a game in." He said "it certainly when there's that kind of spirit in the stadium."

In the wake of some rough press for Southeastern Conference officials in recent weeks, and Florida's Urban Meyer being fined $30,000 for criticizing them earlier in the week, Saban made his feelings about the officiating crew known when asked about a fairly run-of-the-mill call on intentional grounding in the end zone which led to a safety against the Tide.

"Tom (Ritter, the referee for Saturday's game) does a really good job and he's got great judgment; I couldn't agree with him (on the safety call)," Saban said.

On going for it on fourth down in LSU territory late in the game, a move that lead to a Bama field goal and extended its lead to nine, Saban said, "I had confidence in our defense if we hadn't made it; inside 50 yard line in a one-score game, I feel like when its inside one yard you have to have confidence in your players that you can do those kinda things."

"Its about being aggressive," Saban said. "That was one of those calls that are only good decisions when they work."

On injuries, Saban said there were a couple of players hurt during the game but they returned to the line-up. The biggest concern seemed to be Javier Arenas, who later said he just had the wind knocked out of him.


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