Nick Saban never seems to treat his Monday press conference like it's his favorite chore of the week. Some weeks, though, the University of Alabama head coach is particularly feisty and the message is not always directed as the assembled media members.
On Monday, as he reviewed Saturday’s escape at Texas, he didn’t hide his disappointment about certain parts of the Tide’s performance against the Longhorns.
Discipline was a theme throughout.
“It’s not just about playing hard,” Saban said. “I think our guys played hard in the game, they persevered in tough circumstances, they overcame adversity, they showed great resiliency. But, it’s also about playing smart, having good discipline to execute, focus on what’s in front of you and do your job, not only do your job but do it fundamentally with the correct technique, whether it’s hand placement for offensive linemen, whether it’s footwork for defensive backs, whether it’s moving your feet on contact when tackling.”
He didn’t point out the penalties, specifically, but it was obvious the 15 infractions for 100 yards were at the forefront of his frustration. The first question asked was about the penalties in the game.
“What did I just say,” Saban said when asked the question. “I’ll repeat myself. Discipline to execute, play smart, make good choices and decisions. That’s what we’ll do.”
Saban then dove deeper into the process with his voice slightly rising at times.
“We have officials out there (at practice) every day,” said Saban, whose team was penalized six times for 40 yards in the season-opening win over Utah State. “We get a penalty report every day. Every player is confronted with, ‘You made these penalties.’ Those things are always emphasized. It’s not like this is some sort of a resurrection of, ‘Wow, we need to do something about this.’ We’ve been doing it. Players need to make discipline to make choices in the game that it doesn’t do any good to try to create an advantage for yourself, because you’re not above the law. The discipline that I’ve been talking about since I’ve been standing up here is exactly what I’m talking about.”
Saban also talked about his team’s receivers not “playing fast” and scolded the offensive line.
“Look, I think the offensive line, as a whole, has to play a little bit more physical,” Saban said. “We’ve got to get better movement, we got to have better diversity in the running game, we’ve got to be able to execute more consistently. I have total confidence in ability in every guy that plays up there. I just think that we just need to get a little bit more consistent and more physical in how we play, so that we can control the line of scrimmage better. I don’t think we controlled the line of scrimmage the way we needed to in this game.”
He also felt Saturday’s college football games, not just the one the Crimson Tide played in Austin, were a good lesson for teams.
“What does it mean to be favored by 21 points?” Saban said. “Well, there were two teams that I know of, maybe more, that were favored by about the same amount that actually got beat. I guess it doesn’t mean anything, so that’s why we have to play the games. It’s important for our players to learn that they have focus and prepare for every team and every opponent, so they can go out there and play to the best of their ability. Sometimes, even when you win, you can lose. The challenge for us, from top to bottom in the organization, is to hold each other accountable to make sure we're putting the players in the best position to be successful. We’re also teaching them fundamentally what they need to do to be able to have success. But, then they have to be accountable to challenge themselves every day to do it. That’s some of the things we can learn from a game like this.”
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.