Saban 'pleased' with win, shutout or not

Nick Saban

Alabama may not have gotten its third consecutive shutout, but a win is a win, especially if it pleased head coach Nick Saban, who thought his team played better this week than it did last week against Arkansas.

Another Saturday, another blowout win in the books for No. 1 Alabama.

With 11:13 remaining in the game, the Crimson Tide led Florida Atlantic 40-0. Nick Saban's crew was on pace to record their third consecutive shutout for the first time since 1966.

At this point, the Tide had scored 134 unanswered points since Michigan scored in the third quarter of Week 1. That's roughly 192 minutes and 12 quarters of steering opponents clear of the end zone.

But with several backups in on Alabama's defense, FAU put together a dramatic 75-yard, 15-play touchdown drive.

Cool statistics aside, Alabama doesn't care about the shutout streak one way or another.

"We never talk about it," Saban said. "We're just trying to get the guys to play as well as they can play and do what they're supposed to do."

Added linebacker Nico Johnson: "We would love a shutout, but we don't ever think about holding an opponent to it.

"The only thing we do is go into every game thinking we're going to dominate our opponent every play. If it's 60 plays, we want to dominate them for 60 plays. We don't think about the scoreboard or win-loss. We just want to dominate and execute well."

Last week Saban was not happy with the way his backups played against Arkansas, calling them out for not being prepared because they probably thought they wouldn't see the field anyway.

So this week he made a special point to meet with those younger players and enlighten them on what it takes to prepare for a game, get motivated for a game and be ready to play in a game.

He also met with the older leaders of the team and told them it's their job to impart their knowledge upon the inexperienced guys and let them know that they are going to have to contribute.

During that final FAU drive, Alabama's one's took Saban's message to heart and cheered on their backups up and down the sideline.

"The win is more important to us [than the shutout] and obviously getting the two's more experience," said nose guard Jesse Williams. "They showed pretty good [against] adversity and they tried as best the could. A couple of bad mistakes, but like we said, we're trying to improve every week and get better to the end of the season.

Aside from giving up points, Saban was pleased with his team's performance.

"Even though [FAU] drove the ball, we actually probably played a little bit better this week than last week [against Arkansas]," he said.

Once again Alabama was just about balanced offensively, rushing for 256 yards and passing for 292. Quarterback A.J. McCarron went 15-of-25 for 212 yards and three touchdowns and again spread the love, sharing the ball with 12 different players.

However, there were plenty of points left on the field.

"We had a lot of near misses today where we had chances to make big plays and didn't finish," Saban said. "I still think we need to do a better job consistently in the passing game.

"And it's not just at quarterback, it's people around him. It's better pass protection, being more consistent in paying attention to detail, running routes exactly right…whatever it is, we need to get a lot better at it."

Alabama wasn't as efficient as usual in the red zone, either.

"We certainly stalled out today," Saban said. "How many times did we kick field goals? Four? In those kind of situations, we are happy to get the points and we are pleased that the field goal kickers are delivering for us, but at the same time we would like to finish some of those drives with a little better execution."

On the season, the Tide is 18 for 18 in the red zone and has scored 14 touchdowns.

Defensively, Alabama held FAU to 110 total yards, didn't allow any big plays and sacked the quarterback three times. The Owls didn't get a first down until the 4:37 mark in the second quarter, and five of their six first downs didn't come until the late touchdown drive.

The unit's only apparent downfall was not forcing any turnovers after having 12 in the first three games.

"All in all, I was really pleased with our approach," Saban said.

Shutout or not.


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