Nick Saban was surprisingly calm on Wednesday morning’s SEC teleconference given some of the questions he was asked.
For example, one reporter asked the Alabama head coach to compare his team, or a one-loss SEC team, to the likes of the nation’s unbeatens—Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame.
“You have to take the whole body of work that every team does relative to schedule and strength of schedule and I think the system that we have takes those things into consideration,” Saban said. “But two really good teams are going to play in the SEC championship game and if that elevates their status, then I think that they deserve to go to the [national championship] game, but I don’t really think you can make comparisons, I’m not really in the position to make comparisons relative to what the other teams have done. I’m just focused on our team.
“We’ll see what happens.”
Difficulty of replicating Johnny Football
As hard as he tries to move on from Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M, Saban was asked about the Aggies, namely quarterback Johnny Manziel and how hard it was to mimic him in practice.
“It’s very, very difficult,” Saban said. “He has a unique talent to not only throw the ball effectively, but has great instinct for when to scramble, where the pressure’s coming from, how to evade and extend plays. He’s just a unique guy.”
He went on to say that a team must be disciplined on defense to contain that type of player, and Alabama’s was not.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why [Texas A&M] gets off to great starts in games—the tempo play and his ability to extend plays and make plays, especially on third down. He makes a lot of big plays doing what most people aren’t capable of doing.”
Alabama’s defense was unable to get off the field on third down much of the game for the second week in a row as they had trouble doing so against LSU, too. Texas A&M was 11-of-18 on third down.
Going against no-huddle
Saban has been asked several times over the course of the season about uptempo teams and the challenge they present. He admitted that with the amount of fast-paced offenses they’ve faced this year—Ole Miss, Texas A&M—that, although his team practices “extensively” against the no-huddle, they’ll have to do it more in the offseason.
“I think there was eight times [against A&M] that we weren’t lined up and they ran a fast ball play against us and that’s just not good,” Saban said. “It’s not good coaching, it’s not good for the players to have a chance to be successful and execute so that’s something we need to work on more in the offseason and do a better job of.”
The follow up questions was regarding quick snaps and how his players react to them.
“We work against those, but it’s still hard to simulate in practice,” Saban said. “It’s something that I think you’ve got to get the players more adapted to going into the season so that when they face it, it’s something that they’ve had a lot of exposure to.”
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