Saban wants fans to help Tide in Sugar Bowl

Praises Utah Utes; says team is better than people think
Nick Saban doesn’t want anyone around the Alabama Crimson Tide getting complacent. That includes the fans. Saban sounded the alarm after practice Monday. He praised the Utah Utes and challenged fans traveling to New Orleans to be ready to help the Crimson Tide.

“This is a lot better team than everybody thinks,” Saban said of Utah. “We certainly appreciate the fact our fans have been supportive of us all season. We certainly appreciate we sold out our ticket allotment immediately. That is the kind of support you need in bowl games. That is what helps the program get in better bowl games when you have a history of traveling well. But I want everybody who is traveling and supporting us, you need to respect this team and be ready to go because this is a very very good team.

“This is as good a team we have played all year long in terms of what they do. And if you think any different, you are thinking wrong.”

Saban effused praise for the Utah offense.

“This is a very challenging team,” Saban said. “They may be as effective throwing the football, like a 68 or 69 percent completion percentage, as anybody we have played all year. They have a very good passing efficiency. They have a very good quarterback and the receivers are all good route runners.”

Saban said the defense looks good too. He provided a helpful scouting report of what fans should expect to see based on Utah’s film.

“They don’t look so small to me,” Saban said. “They play with power. They come out of their hips well. They don’t play soft on the line of scrimmage. They are going to play an eight-man front most of the time. So they are going to try to get one more in the box than what you’ve got most of the time in any type of running situations.

“They play very disciplined in terms of their gap control. That’s what makes them a pretty good defensive team.”

Alabama breaks following Tuesday practice and reassembles in New Orleans Dec. 27. The team is traveling individually to New Orleans, and it isn’t something that worries Nick Saban. He said he trusts his players to make the right decisions.

“Will somebody miss a flight or somebody’s flight get delayed? Probably,” Saban said. “Will the sun come up the next day if somebody is a half hour late? Probably. Am I going to lose any sleep over it? Probably not.”

Losing sleep he saves for worrying about the Utes. Saban said there are some things Utah does which causes him to worry. He expressed concern over stopping Utah when “they are in empty, when they are in four wideouts, when number 4 is playing quarterback and running it up in there and nobody can stop him.” He’s also thinking about stopping Utah’s pass rushers and blocking the edges and handling Utah’s third down blitzing.

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