QUICK HITS: Monday with Saban

Nick Saban

At his weekly Monday press conference, Alabama head coach Nick Saban discussed his defense's performance against LSU, the challenge Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel presents this weekend, and more...

Five quick hits from Nick Saban's weekly Monday press conference:

1. As most teams do, Alabama has a 24-hour rule after games where they can celebrate or mope about a win or loss, but once time is up, the focus is 100 percent on the next task.

The Crimson Tide came back to beat LSU 21-17 Saturday. It was an emotional and exhilarating win, but immediately after the game, head coach Nick Saban told his team they needed to move on from it pretty quickly with Texas A&M on tap this weekend.

"Games like this can bring out either the best in you or the worst in you," Saban said Monday. "It's all your choice, in terms of how you view the future and what you need to do relative to the challenges that the next game presents, which is pretty significant in Texas A&M's case."

2. This week's injury report includes running back Eddie Lacy and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Saban said Lacy (ankle), who was wearing a boot after Saturday's game, will not practice today, but should be "OK" by tomorrow. He's just a little banged up. He ran for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Tigers.

Cooper (ankle), who didn't play much or have any catches Saturday night, didn't re-injure himself, he was just sore.

"He's going to be able to practice and be ready to go this week," Saban said.

3. Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel provide a whole new challenge for No. 1 Alabama.

"It's a totally different presentation in terms of what we have to defend and what we have to play against offensively," Saban said.

The Aggies have had fast starts and play uptempo. Saban said it's a pace that's hard to simulate in practice. Asked who will play the role of Manziel on scout team this week, Saban chuckled.

"If we had somebody that could play that part, we'd play them," he said. "Blake Sims probably will try to do it some, at least the running part, the scrambling part."

(Sims played Denard Robinson the week before Alabama played Michigan).

4. After facing quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Robinson, Saban was asked who Manziel reminds him of. He said Doug Flutie.

"Look, I've been around longer than most and most of our players can't relate to this, but this guy reminds me of Doug Flutie," he said, smiling. "I had to play against him a long time ago.

"[Manziel] can throw it, he's not great big in stature or anything like that, he's extremely quick. He's instinctive. Has a unique ability to extend plays and seems to know when to take off and run it. This guy doesn't run a lot of quarterback runs. He runs quarterback draws and he runs when it's a pass.

"This is a unique guy in terms of his playmaking ability and his size, quickness and speed and ability to make people miss in space."

5. Saban said his defense played the worst it has played all season against LSU. The Aggies run a different type of offense, but how do you stop Manziel?

"You just got to practice against scrambling, matching patterns, trying to contain the guy in the pocket and push the pocket—because he doesn't just run around you, he'll step up and fake off as well," he said.

"I think the big thing is, don't give them explosive plays. That's the real key to the drill. You've got to put athletic people on the field. This is not a time to have a bunch of guys out there that can play two-gap on the nose and can't move. People have got to be athletic and they've got to be able to move against this team.

"Hopefully relentless pursuit keeps this guy from being able to reset and be able to get a good throw off."

Bonus point: At the end of the presser, Saban was asked if he keeps an eye on his alma mater, Kent State, who is having one of its best years with an 8-1 record.

"I always kind of look and see what the Kent State score was," he said, smiling. "Kind of follow them week-to-week and it's really good to see that they're having a great year. It means something to me."


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