By Hunter Ford
Nick Saban demands consistency from his players, and when he doesn’t get it, he will talk about it, consistently.
In Saban’s Monday press conference, the Tide coach said every player he has reviewed from game footage has shown signs of greatness. The one thing holding them back, Saban said, was consistency, especially in practice.
Saban said his defensive backs gave up four big pass plays in last week’s 31-6 victory over Colorado State. “Most of that is technique and understanding your assignment,” he said.
Saban said there were lapses of focus and concentration on the offensive side of the ball as well. He said both units would do well to, “Keep it simple. What’s my assignment? What am I supposed to do?”
Asked about offensive play calling in the Colorado State game, Saban said mental errors and consistency on the players’ part had a lot to do with plays not working well. He said offensive calls work better when players focus and execute better.
Ole Miss is next up for the Tide and the Rebels are riding a five-game winning streak into Tuscaloosa. Second-year coach Hugh Freeze has his team looking strong in its past few outings. The Rebels won their final two games last season, beating Mississippi State and then defeating Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. This season, the Rebels have defeated Vanderbilt, Southeastern Missouri, and Texas.
The 44-23 victory over the Longhorns, September 14, in Austin, is part of the reason Texas coach Mack Brown is on the hot seat. Ole Miss had a bye last Saturday.
Saban called Ole Miss, “A really, really good team.” Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace has thrown for 648 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, with a 64 percent accuracy rate. But Saban said there is no comparing the Rebels with Texas A&M.
“Their (Ole Miss) primary personnel is three wide receivers and a tight end,” he said. “They have a really good running game.”
The Rebels have been very balanced, statistically, averaging 250 yards per game rushing, with 240 yards per game passing. They average 38 points per game and will visit Tuscaloosa as the No. 21 team in both the coaches and AP polls.
Reserve safety Nick Perry is the only player who will not practice this week, according to Saban.
Five Tide starters sat out the Colorado State game: Wide receivers Kevin Norwood and Amari Cooper; cornerback Deion Belue; defensive back Jarrick Williams; and offensive guard Anthony Steen. Saban said Belue was particularly missed in the Tide secondary because of his experience and skill.
Saban’s clubs are in the closet until spring:
Professional golfer Zach Johnson visited the Tide athletic facility Monday, and had a brief visit with Saban. Asked by the media if Saban was seeking assistance with his “short game,” Saban said, “I’m not working on any game, but the Ole Miss game. Not that my short game doesn’t need it. But I can worry about that in March.”