‘Execution Style’ Iron Bowl win satisfies Saban, players
Following a 49-0 shutout of cross-state rival Auburn in front of a packed Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama’s players on both sides of the ball seemed to be in the same mood as their fans: euphoric. And they felt that way due to an execution-style win.
“We just came out and executed the game plan Coach (Nick Saban) had for us,” said junior cornerback Dee Milliner. “I thought both sides (of the ball) did a great job today.
Milliner, known for big plays in the Iron Bowl, was able to scoop a Tre Mason fumble and return it 17 yards. He had two pass break-ups to go with a pair of tackles on a defense that limited the Tigers (3-9, 0-8 SEC) to 163 total yards of offense.
“We really executed well offensively in the first half,” said Saban. “I felt great about our seniors being able to close out their careers here (at Bryant-Denny) with a pretty memorable victory for them.”
Said senior safety Robert Lester: “It was never about (Auburn) or what they brought to the table. We just wanted to come out and execute better, and eliminate all the little mistakes that we’ve had in previous weeks, and I thought we did an excellent job of doing that tonight.
“It’s great to go out the way we did (as seniors), and it’s great to go out like that in (Bryant-Denny) Stadium. It’s my last time to play here.”
Lester made a team-leading five tackles to go with an interception and 31-yard return. Reserves Landon Collins and Tana Patrick had four stops each. Adrian Hubbard and Jeffery Pagan each registered a sack of Auburn quarterback Jonathan Wallace.
“You’ve got to come out and execute,” said senior defensive end Damion Square. “You’ve got to get hungry. It’s the Iron Bowl. You’ve got to want to come out and play great. The losers, they’ve got to live with it 36 days a year. You want to come out and get the ‘w,’ so you don’t have to go through a year of hell.”
Square made two tackles, including being in on a tackle for a one-yard loss, and had a quarterback hurry.
Offensively, the Tide scored on its first seven offensive possessions to account for the 49 points in what was the second-largest margin of victory in Iron Bowl history.
“We came out and we executed, and at the end of the day, we had fun, so that makes it that much better,” said junior running back Eddie Lacy. “It was the last game for the seniors, their last home game, so everybody was on the same page, believing we had to come out and execute, and that’s what we did. I think this is the best game that we played all year.”
Lacy was the game’s leading rusher with 131 yards on 18 carries, giving him 1001 yards for the season through 12 games with two to go.
“If you’re throwing good, the run’s going to work, and if you run the ball good, passing’s going to work,” said quarterback AJ McCarron. “I think it works both ways.”
McCarron finished 15-of-21 for 216 yards and four scores. He was at the helm for all seven Tide scoring marches.
Next up for the newly-crowned SEC Western Division Champion Tide (11-1, 7-1) is a date with the 11-1 Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with the SEC Crown at stake.
“We must finish. We’ve been harping on that all the time,” Milliner said. “We’re going to be judged by the SEC Championship. It’s going to be a great game, with competitors on both sides of the ball. We’re just looking forward to it. It’s an honor to be able to play in the SEC Championship. We’re just going to focus in, keep out all the ‘clutter,’ and hope we can come out with a win.”
CBS will televise the SEC tilt, with kick-off set for 3:00 p.m. CT.
Saban said junior receiver Kenny Bell with have surgery to insert a rod in a fractured tibia and be out five to six weeks. He added that sophomore nose guard Brandon Ivory twisted an ankle. “I think he will be OK,” Saban said.
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