Saban: We're at the 12-Yard Line

Coach Nick Saban is well aware of the Dolphins' slow start so far this season, but he likened the regular season to a football field and said the Dolphins simply aren't further along at this point yet still have time to catch up. He put it in those terms as well: The season is like a game, and the Dolphins just had a bad first quarter.

"I believe in the players we have here," Saban said the day after a 17-15 loss at Houston dropped the Dolphins to 1-3. "I think we can be a good football."

Saban said the Dolphins' problems stem from a lack of execution, whether it be missed assignments, a receiver running the wrong route, someone not picking up a blitzer, a defender going to the wrong gap, etc.

He pointed out a couple of specific examples, such as the first offensive play of the game when Daunte Culpepper was sacked after faking an end-around. Saban indicated that someone was supposed to pick up the blitzing defensive back but failed to do so.

Saban also talked about a short pass to Wes Welker that gained only 11 yards, but could have gained a lot more had another player not cut inside and created traffic around Welker.

The bottom line is Saban understands the Dolphins need to pick it up. But Saban also was quick not to point fingers at his players.

"I'm not throwing anybody under the bus," he said. "I expect me to be able to get them to do it."

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Saban said Culpepper probably had his best game of the season, and Culpepper was named the team's offensive player of the game, along with tight end Randy McMichael.

Jason Taylor and Will Allen were named the defensive players of the game, while Travis Minor earned the honor on special teams.

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Saban said Jason Taylor's bruised ribs were not a problem "relative to the X-rays" that were taken Sunday.

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According to Saban, Houston used a three-wideout lineup seven times in their first three games, but used it almost the entire game against the Dolphins.

Saban said his players need to step up and make plays even if they haven 't seen a look and haven't spent a lot of time practicing against it.

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