Alabama coach Nick Saban previews Alabama vs Texas A&M
Also reflects on the legacy of Bear Bryant
By Hunter Ford
Monday, Nick Saban heaped praise on the Texas A&M offense, on its coach, and even on its under-performing defense. In a Wednesday SEC teleconference, he upped the ante, saying the Aggies’ offense could be the greatest of all time.
“Texas A & M has an outstanding team, one of the best offensive teams probably in college football, maybe in the history of college football, in terms of their quarterback’s ability to make plays and the great job of executing that they do,” Saban said. “They’re a very- well-coached team.”
The Aggies racked up an average of 558 yards per game last season while scoring an average of 44 points per game.
They scored 29 in a 29-24 victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While it wasn’t enough to derail the Tide’s BCS Championship run, it was a rare instance of a Saban team being outscored.
In 14 games last season, Alabama had four shutouts and only gave up more than 14 points on three occasions. One was the loss to A&M, another was a 34-28 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship, and the other was a 21-17 win at LSU.
Johnny Football and company have amassed an average of 600 yards per game this season and 58.5 points per game in two games. But those games have been against Rice and Sam Houston State, not an SEC caliber squad. On the other side of the ball, A&M has struggled against two lower tier teams.
The Aggies’ defense gave up an average of nearly 450 yards per game. A&M surrendered 31 points to Rice and 28 to Sam Houston State.
But Saban said he thinks the Aggies are better than their stats show.
“To me they played well defensively,” he said. “They’re physical, they’re tough, they play hard. They’ve given up a few big plays early in the season, probably due to mental errors or whatever.”
The Aggies will be helped by the return of three starters on defense who sat out all or part of the first two games due to suspensions. Senior Linebacker Steven Jenkins and corner DeVante Hariss sat out both games and will be playing against the Tide. Corner Deshazor Everette, who had an interception in last year’s Alabama game, sat out two halves in the first two games but is cleared to play all game against Alabama.
Saban was asked to reflect on the legacy of Bear Bryant, who coached at Texas A&M as well as Alabama. Bryant’s 100-year birth anniversary is upcoming and he has been the subject of several newspaper and magazine articles over the past few weeks. Saban had no problem coming up with something to say on the subject.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s probably only a few people in college athletics history that have had as great an impact. Maybe John Wooden at UCLA,” Saban said. Wooden won 10 NCAA basketball titles in 12 years, including 7 in a row, during the 1960s and 70s.
“I don’t think you can really kind of put words into what (Bryant’s accomplishments) has meant and how it affected the University of Alabama. I also think as a coach, since I’ve been here, this is the seventh year I been here, you can’t have enough respect for the number of players who come back and talk about Coach Bryant, the influence and impact that he had on their life, and how he affected people in a really positive way, which is part of what we all try to do as coaches. I have probably as much respect for that part of what he did as anything.”
Saban said that, before he came to Alabama, he had read books about or by Bryant. Saban said he strives to instill many of the same values (character, attitude, discipline, hard work) into his program as Bryant did.
“That’s the kind of program we have here,” Saban said.