Alabama Focus Is On Texas Game

In the past couple of weeks, Alabama Coach Nick Saban and his players have been on the banquet circuit as Crimson Tide players have been raking in the hardware, everything from the Heisman Trophy and the Butkus Award to a half dozen All-America citations. That could be the stuff of distraction. But no one expects Bama to not be ready for its next game.



After two weeks off following the Alabama victory over Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game, the number one ranked Crimson Tide was back on the practice field Saturday. Bama will meet Texas, ranked second in the nation, in the BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on January 7. Both teams are 13-0.

Tide Coach Nick Saban indicated following Saturday's two-hour practice that the players would be ready for the national championship game. "I think every player has got to manage his business," Saban said. "I think you get ready to play a game in every way.  I don't think any award that a player got is going to help us have success in the next game.  I think every player has to manage himself and make sure he remembers the things that he did to be a good enough player to be recognized to win an award. That's what he needs to continue to do. 

"We need to be looking forward at the challenge ahead and not be concerned about what's been accomplished to this point.  I've talked to the players about that and I think it's important to understand what it takes to be successful and the focus that it takes to get ready to play and game like this and what it takes to win a game like this.  I think they understand and they worked hard today."

Saban congratulated those who have won awards, but said, "Those are really team awards and I think everybody on our team should be proud of the part they played in helping those players have success.  I think all of our players were very generous in sharing the awards when they received them.  All the other players were very happy for those players and feel good about the fact that people got recognition outside."

Saban said coaches and players appeared glad to be back at practice and that it was a good workout on Saturday. "It was upbeat with good tempo," he said.

The coach said early work this week is not on Texas, but rather something like pre-season camp in August when the Tide works on fundamentals. "I think the focus and emphasis on these first two practices is really on fundamentals, doing the basics, doing a lot of the practice-like stuff we would do more in camp when we start to get ready for the season because the players have had a couple of weeks off, even though they worked out three times during finals week and worked out on their own three times while they were home," Saban said. "Still, carrying the gear, going to practice is something they've got to get back into and used to.  We are going to work five days here until (December 23) and then break for Christmas and then come back here on December 27 and practice through (December 31)."

The team will travel together on a charter flight to Los Angeles on January 1, then have a normal work week beginning January 2.

Saban said that senior offensive lineman Drew Davis and sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower were excused from Saturday's practice due to an illness.

That was more than balanced by good academic news. "We had a good semester academically," Saban said. "We don't have any academic casualties.  We didn't even have anybody that passed just six credits.  We were well above where we need to be."

Saban said, "Our focus right now is really on this game.  It's kind of a one-game season.  Our players need to focus on playing their best football.  It's not about what's going on outside of here. That's the way we need to practice.  That's what we need to do. That's how we need to prepare."

Saban said Tide players "can assume they are probably playing against the best player they have played against all year, and maybe the best team.  Teams like this don't get into the championship game if they don't know how to win, if they don't expect to win and don't know how to do it. It's important that we get back to where we are physical and aggressive in what we're doing and we play with the mental and physical toughness that we need to play that kind of trademarks out team, as well as the fact that we need to get back to excellent execution in terms of that we're doing.  Those are the things we're really concerned about trying to accomplish, especially reestablishing those things in these first five practices."

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