On Thursday, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban sat down for his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” to discuss last week’s narrow win over Arkansas as well as the upcoming Tennessee game.
Alabama fans have been spoiled in the recent past with their team coming out from the start of the season blowing everyone out. This year has not been the case as this Alabama team has had to rely on resilience - a trait that is very important to a championship team - to win close games and even bounce back after an early season loss.
"I think our team has shown great resiliency in being able to win games," Saban told host Pat McAfee. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
"I'm very pleased with the way this team has developed..— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) October 19, 2023
We still have lots of room to grow and that's something we're embracing the challenge on..
I love coaching this team" ~ Coach Saban #PMSLive pic.twitter.com/M7ZSewczta
This year’s team is young and lacks experience but has made huge strides in development with even more room to improve. Saban said he was "very pleased" with his team's development.
"I think this team being a younger team, maybe not the experience and maturity of some of the teams of the past, especially at what I call leadership positions," he said. "I'm very pleased with the way this team has developed. We still have lots of room to grow, and that's something we're embracing the challenge on. I love coaching this team. They have good relationships, they like each other, they support each other. But there's some competitive maturity - like we just talked about, not getting relief syndrome in a game and being able to play for 60 minutes that we still need to learn how to do."
Against Arkansas last week, Alabama jumped to a 24-6 lead right out of halftime but failed to put the Razorbacks away. The Crimson Tide lost focus and intensity, causing the game to be much closer than it should have been. Saban explained that his team was paying too much attention to the scoreboard and got a case of what he calls "relief syndrome."
"We got ahead 24-6 in the game and sort of lost our collective focus in the game," he said. "I think it's a great lesson for everybody to learn that when you have the right, sort of, mental intensity and focus how well you play, and then when you lose that for whatever reasons - scoreboard, get relieved, relief syndrome I call it, like 'We got this' - how people can take advantage of that lack of intensity you play with. Hopefully, that's a lesson that our players learned."
Last season, Tennessee broke the 15-game winning streak Alabama had over the Vols, by way of a last-second field goal. Alabama will look to avenge that loss on Saturday by playing with a bit of an edge and playing much looser than last season’s game.
"I think the big thing for our guys is we have played well when we're a little bit upset and have an edge to us. That's something that we have to go into this game with," Saban said. "I thought we played the game last year with a lot of anxiety. There was a lot on the line. A lot of guys put a lot of pressure on themselves. We want to keep an edge about how we compete, how we focus, how we play."
Alabama will look to start a new winning streak over the Vols as the Crimson Tide host Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday. The game will air on CBS.
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