Alabama vs Ole Miss
By Hunter Ford
Alabama Coach Nick Saban opened his Monday teleconference with praise for a well-rounded Ole Miss team.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenging game for us,” Saban said of the SEC battle between Alabama and Ole Miss.
The Tide coach reiterated the talking points he has used all year-long in regard to his team, saying it still had work to do on fundamentals.
As for the Rebels, Saban said they have “an explosive offense” complimented by a quick, aggressive defense and good specialists. “They are very confident,” he said. “We need to play our best football to have any success against them.”
Saban was asked specifically about Rebel linebacker D.T. Shackelford, a product of Decatur’s Austin High School.
“Their quickness on defense is a problem, their movement. Pressure will be a challenge, and he (Shackelford) does a good job. We have a lot of respect for him as a player.”
Asked about Rebel running back and punt returner, Jeff Scott, Saban called him a “fantastic player.” Saban said the Rebels have a lot of “speed around the perimeter” that is difficult to simulate in practice situations. Asked to compare the Rebel offense with Texas A&M, Saban said Ole Miss can spread the field, but uses a different philosophy than the Aggies.
Texas A&M used a “zone-dive with quarterback runs” according to Saban, whereas Ole Miss will use sweeps and “perimeter plays and a lot of difficult play-action plays.”
Saban said the Rebels have several good receivers who play a physical style, can run block, and can “make catches downfield and use their size well.”
Saban was asked if he could remember a time in coaching when he was still, after three games, searching for fundamental consistency from his team. “You’re always struggling for consistency and performance,” he said. “I believe in our team.” But Saban added the Tide must still work on consistency to “be the team we’re capable of being.”
Saban was asked about his criticism of the targeting rule.
“I haven’t been critical of the targeting rule…I don’t know where you got that,” Saban shot back. A follow-up question asked the coach about his desire to see the penalty for targeting revised. The penalty can result in an offending player being ejected from the game. The current rule allows for a review of a targeting call. An offending player’s ejection can be overturned on review, but the 15-yard penalty associated with the on-field call cannot be overturned.
“Right, well it’s a work in progress,” Saban said. “It is what it is.” He said he has “compassion” for referees who have to make “bang-bang” calls during fast-paced action, but hoped the rule could be revised during the off-season. “Safety is the number one concern,” Saban said. He and said his staff teach shoulder tackling and warn players not to launch at the head of opponents. He said he wants players to play “smarter” not less aggressive.
Saban said many strides have been made in protecting players from concussions and treating concussions. He said technology and awareness has improved over the past 20 years. Concussions were not treated as seriously when he played in the 1970s, he said.
“As soon as you knew your name and where you were from, they put you back in the game,” he said.
Former LSU Coach Passes
Saban sent condolences to the family of Paul Dietzel. Dietzel died Monday at the age of 89. He coached the 1958 LSU national championship team. He also coached at Army and South Carolina and served as LSU’s athletic director in the 1970s.
“I want to pass on from the Crimson Tide, to his family, our thoughts and condolences, and you know…God Bless.”
Alabama Injury Report
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Nick Perry will definitely be out for the Ole Miss game and is likely to require surgery for injuries suffered earlier in the season.