Rest, self-improvement become focus as Tide, new center Lindsay prep for Georgia State
Yes, Georgia State. Not Georgia. Not even Georgia Tech. Georgia State. The Georgia State that is just in its fourth season of fielding a football team and first season as a FBS member. The Georgia State that fell 63-7 to Alabama in its inaugural season of football in 2010.
So what does it mean for No. 1-ranked Alabama?
It means a little extra rest. And a little more focus on self-improvement.
After a stretch of three-straight weeks of football games with four more consecutive weeks of games on tap beginning this Saturday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban felt this is the week for an extra day of rest for his troops following their usual Sunday off. The team will forego its normal Monday practice routine today and instead scale back to what he called ‘walk-through, stretch and stride.’
“My experience in the past is when we have a seven-game stretch — when we play more than five or six games in a row — players start to get worn down and start to get tired and two days rest helps them a little bit more,” Saban explained.
When Alabama does return to regular practicing, Saban wants his players tunnel-visioned more on themselves than Georgia State. Even though the Tide is coming off its most complete game of the season — a 25-0 pasting of a ranked Ole Miss team, Saban, who described last Saturday’s victory as ’a step forward’ for the team, knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement. He just hopes his players realize that too and continue to push themselves to get better.
“The question now is, ‘Are we going to be able to build on (the win over Ole Miss) and improve as a team and not be satisfied with where we are so that we can improve and get better execution and improve in consistency?’” Saban said.
One of the areas Alabama showed marked improvement in last Saturday was its ground attack. The Tide produced a season-best 254 yards rushing, and it did so with backup center Chad Lindsay in for much of the game. Injured starter Ryan Kelly will continue to be unavailable this week, meaning more work for Lindsay.
Saban was impressed with the way Lindsay performed Saturday when being thrust into game action unexpectedly.
“I think it speaks well for Chad that he did a good job when we went into the game that he was well-prepared and when he got the opportunity he was able to take advantage
of it in a positive way, which was helpful to the team, but it was also invaluable to his development as a player as well,“ Saban said. “That’s the point we try to make with all the players.”
And, fact is, Saban and the rest of the coaching staff expected Lindsay to play well on short notice. They didn’t expect much of a dropoff at all when Lindsay replaced Kelly at center Saturday.
“Chad has been in the program, he’s a hard worker, he’s a strong guy, he’s very smart, he understands,” Saban said. “There was pretty good competition between those two guys (Lindsay and Kelly) as to who would be starting. So we have a lot of confidence in Chad.”
Kellen Williams will serve as the No. 2 center behind Lindsay while Kelly is out.
While Georgia State — 0-4 on the season after losses to Samford (31-21), Chattanooga (42-14), West Virginia (41-7) and Jacksonville State (32-26) — is clearly overmatched on paper, Saban still has plenty of respect for the Tide’s homecoming foe.
“We respect every opponent that we play, regardless of their record,” Saban said. “…. There’s nothing to be taken for granted in any team that you play. And I think the best way to do that is to focus on who you are, what you’re doing, how you want to improve and how you want to play so you can be the best player you can be. And that’s certainly going to be our focus.”
Kickoff for the Alabama-Georgia State game is set for 11:21 a.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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