Saban gives Tuberville vote of confidence
When asked his reaction about the pressure on Auburnâ€™s Tommy Tuberville to win the Iron Bowl, Alabamaâ€™s Nick Saban gave an unequivocal statement of support for Auburnâ€™s embattled coach.
â€œTommy is a good friend and I have a tremendous amount of professional respect for him. He has done a fantastic job wherever he has coached as a head coach. I had a lot of respect for him when he was an assistant coach and a defensive coordinator. So, we want nothing but the best for his future. We have to compete in this game and we will both do the best job that we can.â€
Translation, please Auburn keep Tommy Tuberville. A few more hires like Tony Franklin and a few more duck hunting trips and the balance of power truly will shift.
Iron Bowl report (Monday)
Alabamaâ€™s Iron Bowl 2008 preparations are underway with a 90-minute practice session Monday held indoors in helmets and shoulderpads. Alabama spent the bye week resting, getting healthy and working on fundamentals. This week the focus is all on Auburn.
â€œI think when you play a game like this; itâ€™s like having a one-game season,â€ Alabama football coach Nick Saban said. â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter what youâ€™ve done before this or whatâ€™s coming up next. Itâ€™s all about this game. Itâ€™s all about Alabama and Auburn. Itâ€™s not about where youâ€™re ranked or what youâ€™re record is or any BCS or any of that stuff. Itâ€™s really about this game and this week. I think the thing the players need to focus on is what they need to do to play well and not think about all the things surrounding the game.â€
The players know the Auburn game is important. Even recent arrival Terrence Cody knows the importance of the game.
â€œIâ€™ve been hearing it since I got here,â€ Cody said. â€œEverybody talks about the other games but the main game is the Auburn game. A lot of the guys on the team havenâ€™t beaten them since theyâ€™ve been here. Itâ€™s a real big game for the seniors.â€
But the players are at least saying the right things about their approach to the game. According to John Parker Wilson, this is the biggest game not because it is Auburn, but because it is the next game.
â€œItâ€™s the biggest game weâ€™ve played of the season, because itâ€™s the next game,â€ Wilson said. â€œWe are going to take the same approach weâ€™ve taken all year for every other game weâ€™ve played. Itâ€™s going to be nothing more than that.â€
And in case anyone has forgotten, Saban always reminds fans what it takes to win a football gameâ€”even the Iron Bowl.
â€œThe game will get decided by what happens on the field and how you prepare and how you focus on that to play well and do your job with discipline, toughness, effort and intensity, all those things that have benefitted our team well all year long, will be the keys to any success that we have in this game or any other games we play,â€ Saban said. â€œI think itâ€™s important that our players stay focused on that.â€
Saban insisted that the rivalry game is important to him.
â€œWe have a tremendous amount of respect for the rivalry, because we respect both schools and the tradition that both schools have and the support and passion the fans bring,â€ Saban said.
When asked if the Auburn winning streak is a psychological factor for Alabama, Saban said it wasnâ€™t a factor for him.
â€œItâ€™s only a psychological factor is you let it be,â€ Saban said. â€œItâ€™s not to me and it shouldnâ€™t be to our players…I am sure this game will get decided based on what happens on this field at this time and how the players play. They need to understand that and know that and focus and play well.â€
Again, leaders like Andre Smith are saying the right things.
â€œItâ€™s just another game,â€ Smith said. â€œWe have to go out and prepare the way we are supposed to. Any college team can win on any given Saturday so thatâ€™s how we have to view this game. Itâ€™s a game thatâ€™s it.â€
Saban also said that junior running back Roy Upchurch (neck spasms) and Earl Alexander (ankle) have both been cleared to practice this week.
â€œFrom an injury standpoint, we donâ€™t have any new injuries to report,â€ Saban said. â€œWe have a couple of guys that need to prove to themselves that they are healthy enough to play, but they have been cleared to practice and go full speed.â€
Nick Saban offered this analysis of Auburn:
â€œAuburn has a really good team, in my opinion. Theyâ€™ve lost four games in the SEC by five points or less. They are a very well-coached team. They are an outstanding defensive team and one of the highest ranked teams in our league, in scoring defense. Their front is very, very good. Theyâ€™ve got some dominant players up front. They are physical. They can play the run. Theyâ€™ve got some pass-rushers that can affect the quarterback. They are outstanding. Offensively, theyâ€™ve got good runners and good offensive line. Kodi Burns has gotten better and better each game that he has played. Theyâ€™ve got very good receivers, mostly the same guys we played against a year ago. Theyâ€™re outstanding on special teams and one of the best kickoff return teams in the country. They are good on punt returns and play well on (special) teams. This is a team that we have a tremendous amount of respect for and know that we going to have to play as good a football as we have played all year to have success against.â€
Well-coached? I wonder if Saban is watching film of this yearâ€™s Auburn offense or somehow the tapes got lost and he is watching a previous year. Maybe Saban was just being nice. Who knew he was capable of that???