Saban says Kentucky QB is impressive; talks about Alabama receivers
By Hunter Ford
In his Wednesday morning teleconference, Nick Saban said the Tide will try to continue building on the improvement it has made in its past two games. Alabama earned a 25-0 shut-out of Ole Miss and a 45-3 score against Georgia Southern in its last two outings.
Saban said his team’s execution has improved. But he said there are still a few players who need to show more “grit.”
Saban said Kentucky has played well against three top ten teams; Louisville, Florida and South Carolina. The Wildcats looked as though they might pull an upset last week before falling 35-28 to South Carolina.
Asked about Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper, whose playing time has been limited due to a toe injury, Saban said Cooper has been improving.
“He’s (Amari) is a hard working guy,” Saban said. “He won the most points on his summer conditioning program.” Saban said it can be “frustrating when something (the toe injury) is nagging you” but said Cooper “had a really good week this week.”
Saban has previously described his receiving corps as “unique” and said they “compliment” each other. He was asked this morning to go into more detail.
“We have guys who are really good at the roles we want them to play,” Saban said. He said the Tide receivers have different talents and abilities. Saban said Alabama has “Speed,” “vertical,” “slot,” “possession”… and “catch and run with it guys.”
Saban said if the receivers all did the same thing they wouldn’t be as effective. “It’s like a basketball team,” he said. “You can’t have all point guards or all centers.”
Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow, a product of Pratville, drew praise from Saban.
“He’s really, really impressed me,” he said. Saban said he expects Whitlow to do some “quarterback run type stuff,” but added, “He’s done a good job in the passing game… he played extremely well against South Carolina.” Whitlow was 17 of 24 for 178 yards and two touchdowns against the Gamecocks.
Kentucky has a two quarterback system with Maxwell Smith sharing playing time with Whitlow.
Anniversary for 2003 LSU BCS Champions
Saban’s first BCS National Championship as a coach came when he was at LSU in 2003. That team celebrates its 10th anniversary this season.
Saban, when asked to reflect on that team, said he has fond memories of players who went to LSU when the Tigers were “not very good.”
“They came in with the goal of doing something special,” he said.
Saban said the team also performed well academically, and many of those former players have gone on to successful careers outside of football. “I love that team,” Saban said.