There’s no time for Alabama to enjoy being 3-0. Nick Saban just won’t have it.
After crumbling up Arkansas last week on the road 52-0, the Crimson Tide’s second consecutive blowout shutout, not one player celebrated.
“[Coach Saban] doesn’t want us to get too overconfident and lose focus on what we have planned for this year,” said sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.
“Every five seconds, as soon as you mess up, no matter what the score is, if you make a mental error, he’s going to be on you hard.”
The Tide has rolled over its first three opponents, outscoring them 128-14. They play Florida Atlantic Saturday, a team that gave up 713 total yards against Georgia last week.
Before this season started, it looked like Alabama had a tough first three weeks, facing two top 10 opponents in Michigan and Arkansas. Obviously those games turned out to be flubs, so do the players even feel like they’ve been tested yet?
“I think we’ve been tested,” Clinton-Dix said. “We’ve played against good teams. We just work hard in practice and it shows during the game. It hasn’t been easy at all.”
Despite FAU defensive end Cory Henry claiming that his team is faster than Alabama, and the Tide “ain’t what people think,” the Owls don’t stand a chance against the No. 1 team in the country.
Ever since Saban’s outburst the week before Western Kentucky, his players have fine-tuned their focus.
“Practice has been a little different,” linebacker Adrian Hubbard said. “We were kind of, eh, I wouldn’t say like putting them down as a team, but we kinda weren’t feeling it and we don’t want to make the same mistake in not preparing the right way, so this week we’re preparing for [FAU] like any other team.”
Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (3-0) vs. Florida Atlantic (1-2), 4 p.m. CT, PPV
On the line: Nick Saban asked his team this week if they could respond when things aren’t going bad.
“It’s human nature sometimes people respond better when things go bad,” he said. “I want to see if our players have the maturity to be able to respond even when things don’t go bad.”
The last time Alabama played at home, it beat WKU 35-0, but didn’t play up to its standards.
“The players kind of feel like we didn’t play very well at home the last time, so maybe we’ll be able to play a little better this time around,” Saban said.
When Alabama has the ball…expect the Tide to be as equally balanced as they’ve been all year, averaging about 212 passing yards per game and 186 rushing. Last week against Arkansas, five different running backs and nine different receivers touched the ball. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is doing a good job of spreading the love and this looks like it could be another game where a lot of young players get the chance to see the field and make plays.
When Florida Atlantic has the ball…expect quarterback Graham Wilbert to try to get his offense going early like he did against Georgia last week. The Owls were able to move the ball and put up 14 points in the first half before ultimately losing 56-20. Running back Damian Fortner had 81 yards rushing and ran for a 23-yard touchdown.
Prediction: Unbeknownst to Cory Henry, Alabama has too much speed, size and athleticism for FAU to make this a competitive game. Alabama linebackers Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson will hound Wilbert on the outside from the get-go, and just like they’ve done every game thus far, the Tide will run away with an early lead and keep widening it until Saban feels they’ve played "flawless" football.
Alabama 45, Florida Atlantic 10
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