In his opening statement of Wednesday’s SEC Coaches’ Teleconference, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel held nothing back regarding his thoughts of Alabama.
“They’re a team, quite honestly, that has no weaknesses,” he said.
We’ll have to wait and see what Nick Saban’s rebuttal is later this afternoon, as the Crimson Tide head coach isn’t the fondest of compliments such as those.
Pinkel, who has known Saban for a long time as the two played together back in college at Kent State, continued to praise the Tide when he was asked about the challenge their defensive line presents for his battered offense—the Tigers have been plagued by injury on the offensive line and will be without starting quarterback James Franklin (strained knee).
“That team is one of the best I’ve seen,” Pinkel said. “I’ve seen all the SEC teams, we’ve been studying them. Seen national championship teams, Big 12, we’ve played Texas and Oklahoma…high-level teams. And [Alabama] is one of the best personnel teams I’ve seen and the defensive front you can start with.
“They’re impressive, well-coached and disciplined. We’ve got a challenge ahead of us. It’s a great opportunity. It’ll be a good battle.”
No time for reflection
During his conference call, Saban was asked if he has had a chance to talk to Pinkel about what the two have been able to accomplish as coaches and players.
Saban? Have time for reflection? We’re talking about a guy who doesn’t even celebrate after winning a national championship…
“I talk to Gary on occasion, but when you’re in this profession you’re always worried about the next play and the next game, so you don’t have a lot of time to reflect on anything that’s happened in the past,” he said. “You’re really in the present moment of trying to figure out what you need to do to manage your team.”
Saban was also asked if he thought way back when that Pinkel would become a head coach some day.
“Gary was always a very smart guy with great character and a good competitor,” Saban said. “We both became GA’s and it was pretty evident to me he could be a really, really good coach, so it was no surprise to me. He’s turned out to be a fantastic coach.”
Any Given Saturday
Alabama escaped the jaws of Shakeup Saturday thanks to a bye week, but Saban’s message to his players this week is that in this sport, anything can happen.
“Sometimes you can look at the unpredictability of college football on a week-to-week basis and make your players aware that if they don’t play their best football, anyone is capable of beating you on any day,” he said.
Missouri is 3-3, 0-3 in SEC play, is fresh off a 19-15 loss at home to Vanderbilt and will be without its starting quarterback when it hosts the Tide Saturday. But those are external factors Alabama can’t control and Saban is making sure his team understands that.
“Focus on the process of what it takes to execute well and play to the best of your capabilities,” Saban said. “That’s what we’re always trying to motivate our players to do.”
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