Alabama Football Update: Coach Nick Saban talks Kentucky win, previews Arkansas
By Hunter Ford
At his Monday press conference, Nick Saban was asked about the ‘slow start’ his team had in the Kentucky game. The Tide was in scoring position on its first three drives, but came away with no points.
“It’s a total misconception we didn’t start the game well,” Saban said. “My question is how did we get there to start with? Was it a slow start or was it a matter of two turnovers and a drop on third down? We didn’t finish the drives the way we needed to to cash in.”
Saban said Alabama must have done some good things to be in scoring position. He lamented the culture of “instant gratification,” and added, “I fully expect that to be the reaction.”
Saban said he was happy with the way the Tide persevered through the early miscues, going on to win 48-7.
“I was really pleased with the way our guys responded and answered the bell,” he said. Saban said things “didn’t go well” at the end of the first three drives, but the lesson to be learned is to keep playing and don’t give up. “You can miss a four-foot putt and still win,” Saban said.
The Tide coach said his team played well at the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball. Saban had plenty of praise for his team overall, offense, defense and special teams. As always, though, he said there is room for improvement.
“The key thing for this team is to continue to try to create an identity for themselves in terms of the consistency they can compete with,” he said.
Asked what caused two early fumbles, Saban said poor technique was partly to blame.
“I think probably more than anything (what caused the fumbles)… technique, you know. We took a handoff and put the ball in the wrong arm, then tried to change it and got hit when we tried to change it,” Saban said. Another fumble occurred when the runner made an extra effort to gain more yards, and lost the ball in the process.
“That’s uncharacteristic for our backs, but something we need to work on,” Saban said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best game by any stretch of the imagination. So, I think there’s a lot of things we can improve on.”
Saban said his defense is not forcing as many turnovers as he would like to see. He said the special teams have played well, but need to focus on consistency.
“As soon as you don’t do something exactly right on special teams, you’re vulnerable to giving up a big play,” he said.
Saban had been asked if there were any areas in which his team could improve.
“It would be easier to answer that question if you said ‘is there anything we don’t need to improve on?’ because I think there’s a lot of things we can improve on,” Saban said.
Saban said the Tide’s next opponent, Arkansas, will pose unique problems.
“Arkansas is one of the most challenging teams that we’ve played this year,” he said. Saban cited the Razorback’s ability to run, and their propensity to make plays on defense.
Alabama beat Arkansas last year 52-0 and the Razorbacks lost to South Carolina last week, 52-7. Saban was asked if those scores made it hard to get ready for the Razorbacks.
“We don’t really want to look at those results, we’d rather look at what technically they’re capable of,” Saban said. “They still ran the ball effectively. They had some long runs that ended with fumbles. The game might have been completely different.”
Saban said the Tide has to focus on how it plays and improves, and have respect for an Arkansas team that has potential.
Saban said the Razorbacks’ offense will provide, “a different kind of challenge… how they run the ball, and the sort of formations and heavy formations they get in to do it. “This will be a physical challenge for us.”
Saban said Arkansas has two good running backs that “both run downhill.” The Razorback’s Alex Collins has over 700 yards halfway through the season.
Asked about Tide running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, Saban had this to say:
“We’re pleased with both those guys. I don’t think either one of them has played their best games in terms of what their capabilities are. We’re not disappointed at all, in the way they played, but I think from a consistency standpoint, they would be the first to tell you, there’s things they could do better. We have to get them to improve although they have been productive.”
Alabama Football: Ha Ha Clinton Dix Update
Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban said Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has had no change in his status. He is suspended from play and is practicing with the scout team.
“We don’t have any new information. When we get new information, we will certainly be glad to give it to you,” Saban said.
Asked about Clinton-Dix’s progress, Saban said he was doing as well as could be expected considering the circumstances.
“Nobody that is a true competitor likes not being there for his teammates,” Saban said. “Ha Ha has been that kind of player for us. But, when you don’t do the right things there are consequences that we all have to suffer through. Hopefully, it will be a learning experience for Ha Ha and every player on the team.”