Saban Speaks

Nick Saban's opening statement of his weekly press conference probably is one of those "goes without saying" moments. Ranked No. 1 again this week and with three national championships in four years.

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"Almost every player that plays on our team has shown at some point in time that they can play really good football," Saban said.

Now that he's made that fairly obvious point, he moved on to what is likely a repetitive theme for himself and all coaches.

"To get more consistency as a team, we have to do a better job of not making mental errors, playing better fundamental technique, and then being able to take that to the game by having very good preparation by the way we practice, and the way we mentally prepare for the game," he said.

Saban said his in his team's 31-6 win against Colorado State last Saturday, the Crimson Tide did a lot of things well.

"But we also shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit with mental mistakes and technique errors," he said. "So those are the things that are correctable that need to get corrected so that we can play with more consistency in the games."

Saban was asked about the play of his secondary, and he noted it as an area that needs some improvement.

"We need to play better in the secondary," he said. "We still gave up four big-play passes in the game. They weren't 70 yarders, but they were 20 and 25 yarders. Most of them were on some kind of mental error by somebody. Not always in the secondary, but somebody. Most of it is technique and doing your assignment and understanding how to do your job."

The offensive stats tell part of the interesting story of the Tide team. The Alabama running attack is currently dead last in the SEC standings, and the offense is tenth in passing and thirteenth overall. But in scoring, Alabama, at 38.3 points per game, is fifth.

Effectiveness. But Saban hopes for improvement, and specifically mentioned the running game.

"We had a few missed assignments. But more than that we probably had a lack of technique," he said. "Consistency in doing what you're supposed to do, and it's little things that come from paying attention to detail that are important in getting our offense going the way we're capable of."

Which Saban hopes begins with this weekend's matchup against Ole Miss, a 5:30 p.m. contest on ESPN in Tuscaloosa.

"Ole Miss has got a really, really good team," he said. "They've got a lot of starters coming back, I think 19 guys from offense and defense, and two specialists that had been starters before that actually got redshirted last year who are now starters and who both are now tops in the league in what they do."

Nick Saban
File Photo

Saban said experience at quarterback is a positive for Ole Miss.

"Bo Wallace does a very good job of operating their hurry-up, speed...effective. They've got really good skill players. Two or three receivers that are explosive guys. A really good tight end as a receiver and a blocker. Jeff Scott is an outstanding running back as well as a returner. They've got about everybody back on defense and some new additions that are certainly helping their defense as well. This is a very good SEC team, and we're certainly going to have to play our best football to have any kind of success against them."

Saban, whose team enters the game 3-0, said he and his program have worked a lot in the last year on defending uptempo offenses like the Rebels and Texas A&M.

"We played pretty good in this game last year," Saban said of his team's 33-14 win over Ole Miss. "We gave up 42 points when we played against it the last time (this season in a win at Texas A&M). We've worked a lot on it and we're more prepared. But we haven't gotten the results that we'd like to get. Like in the A&M game, we give up 14 points in the first seven minutes, then win the game 42-7 over the next three quarters. Then we give up 21 points in the last eight minutes of the game. That's the consistency in performance that I'm referring to."

Saban said Ole Miss' offense, while similar in tempo, is different in many ways than the Aggies "O." Actually completely different, according to Saban.

"It's not anything the same. They're a completely different offensive team. (Ole Miss') No. 1 formation is three receivers and a tight end, a very good tight end who is a very good receiver. They have a really good running game. They run for 250 yards a game. So it's a completely different game than trying to defend Texas A&M. There's not even an ounce of similarity."

Pro golfer and former Masters champ Zach Johnson of Iowa was in Tuscaloosa Monday. According to Saban, he believes he was visiting the golf team but dropped by the football office to say hello. He was given a tour of the facilities, according to Saban, and he wasn't there to help him with his own golf game.

"I'm not working on any game except the Ole Miss game," Saban said. "Not that my short game doesn't need it. But I won't have to worry about that until March."

The Ole Miss game is his focus. The Rebels are 3-0 and ranked No. 21 in the country, their best start record-wise since 1989 and their first season to be nationally ranked since 2009.

"They've won five games in a row now, the last two games of last year and the first three games this year," Saban said. "They're a very, very good football team."

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