Happy Tuesday, everyone. Today let’s put a bow on the Texas game before moving on to this week’s opponent, shall we? Saban held his usual Monday press conference to discuss it.
“I think No. 1, it’s not just about playing hard,” Saban said after the team meeting when meeting with reporters. “I think our guys played hard in the game. They persevered in the game in tough circumstances, they overcame adversity, they showed great resiliency.”
It was the mental lapses, execution slips, technical mistakes and planning on the coaching side that had Alabama on the cusp of a stunning upset.
“Whether it’s hand placement for an offensive lineman, whether it’s footwork for defensive backs, whether it’s running your feet on contact when you’re tackling,” Saban said Monday. “All these things are basically fundamental things that people have to do every day in practice so that there aren’t bad habits that show up in the game. And I think that’s a big lesson for us to learn.”
“We didn’t play fast and do as good a job,” Saban said. “But I do think in the fourth quarter we kind of came of age a little bit. Played faster, made plays, spread them out a little bit more. Did a little better job giving them a chance, and they took advantage of it. I saw some maturation in the fourth quarter in those guys playing with confidence and making plays.”
It’s good to hear that he was pleased with the effort. Mistakes can be corrected, but players not giving their all is a bigger issue. That said, he clearly isn’t 100% pleased with the effort on the other six days of the week, which could well be a symptom of rat poison ingestion. Hopefully the offending parties got the wake up call they needed, that maybe they aren’t quite as good as they think they are at this stage.
You can watch the entire presser below.
National media spent yesterday discussing what that game said about Alabama’s title hopes.
For Alabama, a near-loss at Texas might later be remembered as the spark of a dominant closing stretch to solidify Saban’s record-setting eighth national title. In fact, the Tide can take comfort in what happened the last time the team lost early on, in 2015 against then-No. 15 Mississippi. In a game that included two fumbled kickoff returns by Alabama and a slapstick 66-yard touchdown pass by Rebels QB Chad Kelly, a late Tide comeback wasn’t enough to avoid an eventual 43-37 defeat. A few months later, they rebounded to win the 16th national championship in program history. If that kind of ending is possible, maybe a close win at Texas isn’t really cause for concern at all.
The vultures are circling at the moment … but I can’t join them, at least not yet. The Iron Bowl similarities certainly rang some alarm bells, but the Tide blew out Georgia the week after that near loss. We could very much look back on the Texas game as a “You should have gotten them while you had the chance” situation, and for three reasons.
1. The disastrous penalty situation probably won’t happen again. After committing an average number of penalties against Utah State in Week 1, the Tide committed a Saban-era record 15 for 100 yards in Austin. False starts, offsides, a strange number of face masks … it was jarring, but it’s also early in the season. Last year, Bama averaged 8.8 penalties through its first four games, then 6.5 from there. In 2020, it was 6.8 in the first four, then 5.7.
With no team more dominant than Georgia thus far and Alabama not impressing over the first two weeks of the season, the Bulldogs are being elevated to No. 1 with the Tide sliding to No. 3. Ohio State, which also managed to avoid the Sun Belt jinx this week, toppled Arkansas State and remains No. 2 in the CFP projection.
The projected No. 4 seed, Oklahoma, took a bit to get going before ultimately having an easy time with Kent State. The Sooners will also hold their spot. So while the same four teams remain in the playoff field, the semifinals have been shaken up.
There should be plenty of motivation going forward, and we will see how they respond.
So, what are your thoughts? How much did the near miss in Austin change your view of the team’s chances?
How did the Texas game affect your confidence about Alabama’s national title hopes?
Last, the Coaches’ poll kept Alabama atop the list, but there were some major shakeups.
Kentucky and Brigham Young make the week’s big leaps. The Wildcats vault 10 places to No. 10 after winning at Florida, while the Cougars gain 11 spots to land at No. 14 after outlasting future Big 12 foe Baylor in overtime. Arkansas also makes a big move, climbing six notches to No. 11 after winning its SEC opener against South Carolina.
Heading in the other direction, Texas A&M falls from No. 6 all the way to No. 22 after becoming Appalachian State’s latest upset victim. Baylor slips 11 spots to No. 19. Texas, despite coming up a point short against Alabama, actually moves up two spots to No. 20.
Tennessee joins the poll at No. 16 following its overtime triumph at Pittsburgh, and Penn State moves in at No. 23.
I wonder if Texas jumping over preseason top 5 Texas A&M will be a topic of conversation in that state?
That’s about it for now. Have a great day.