Saban pleased with week of practice; Alabama ready to return home
Two weeks ago Alabama head coach Nick Saban would likely never have uttered the words he used on Wednesday when talking about Alabama’s week of practice. His tone was positive and encouraging as the Crimson Tide prepares to take on Florida Atlantic in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“The players have really responded well this week, and we’ve had better focus and intensity in practice,” Saban said on Wednesday. “I asked the players, ‘Did you come here to make the team, or did you come here to make the team better?’.”
The Tide is preparing to take on a Florida Atlantic team that finished the 2011 season last in the FBS in total offense. Led by head coach Carl Pelini, the Owls have been saying all of the proper things in the week leading up to the showdown in Tuscaloosa, but one the Owls’ defensive linemen made a comment on Wednesday that caused a bit of a stir around the college football world.
Florida Atlantic defensive end Cory Henry spoke to reporters from the Palm Beach Post and let it be known that the Owls believe the Crimson Tide is a team capable of being beaten.
“They ain’t what people think,” Henry said. “They’re good and everything, but they be can beat, too. They just execute well. They just execute and beat you.”
Henry’s comments are similar to those made by players from Western Kentucky in the days leading up to the Tide’s home opener against the Hilltoppers. The reaction around the comments two weeks ago combined laughter and rolled eyes at the thought of a non-conference opponent traveling to Tuscaloosa and beating the Tide.
That reaction didn’t go over well with Saban as he stressed that the Tide respected each and every one of its opponents. This week, regardless of the comments that are coming out of the Florida Atlantic camp, Saban’s feelings are the same.
“We respect every team that we play. Carl Pelini, who is a very good coach, has done a good job with this team (Florida Atlantic). They are much improved relative to where they were a year ago,” Saban said during Monday’s press conference. “I think the way they played against Georgia last week sort of shows that, being 14-14 in the second quarter and moving the ball and creating a lot of problems. The guys play hard, and they are well coached. We certainly need to respect them and focus on what we need to do to improve as a team.
Better play in Bryant-Denny Stadium a source of motivation for Tide players
The last time the Crimson Tide stepped foot in Bryant-Denny Stadium it was against a team that many believed didn’t belong on the same field as Alabama. The Alabama coaching staff emphasized that the game against Western Kentucky was going to be far more difficult than many people thought it would be, and that’s exactly how the the game turned out.
While the Tide managed to shut out the Hilltoppers, the performance from the team as a whole was lacking. The offensive line allowed six sacks. The running game barely existed. The defense struggled to get the Western Kentucky offense off the field in a timely manner.
This week, after a 52-0 beat down of Arkansas to begin conference play, the Tide is rejuvenated and has a fresh sense of reason about it, as Nick Saban’s squad readies itself to put on a better show than it did the last time.
“We’re really looking forward to playing at home again,” Saban said. “I think the players didn’t think we played very well when we played at home the last time, so maybe we’ll be able to play a little better this time around.”
During his opening statement, a time when he usually would disclose any injuries that needed to be released to the media, head coach Nick Saban did not disclose any injuries that were impacting the team. Barring any setbacks with players dealing with lingering bumps and bruises, the Tide should be at full strength for Saturday’s game.
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