Saban seeks to have rested team, physically and mentally, to take on LSU
By Hunter Ford
Nick Saban says he will give his Alabama football team some breathing room this week as they prepare for another epic battle with LSU on November 9 in Tuscaloosa.
The Alabama Crimson Tide captured back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012 despite losing home games in November, to LSU in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2012.
“The challenge for our team is to maintain discipline and intensity,” Saban said. He said the off-week will be a time to “recover and rest” and to “get guys healthy who are banged up.”
Saban said the players will not practice over the weekend. The down time, he stressed, is for rest and recovery. “They will have to be mature in how they handle that,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some guys who watch a lot of football games.”
The approach to the bye week after eight games is different than it was earlier in the season. Saban said he practiced his team more during a second week bye. This late in the season he said, “Less is sometimes more. Physical, psychological, mental recovery is more important than anything.”
Injuries have severely impacted several SEC teams this year. Alabama has not been decimated, but has had its share. Saban said injuries cause a “trickle-down effect.” The backup for the injured player has to step up and perform, but an injury can also cause shake-ups in special teams personnel. Also, the new back-up for a new starter has to prepare that much more.
Saban said it was critical for players to deal with “adversity” not only from being “banged up” but in playing stiffer competition. LSU will most likely pose a greater threat to the Tide than its last few opponents.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for them, being one of the most challenging opponents in this league,” Saban said. “The fact that they’ve been really, really good, and we’ve been pretty good, makes this game one that has a tremendous amount of significance for both teams. It’s a great game both teams look forward to.”
Saban said he will try to avoid LSU over-kill during the longer preparation time.
“We can’t use the whole two weeks to prepare for the game,” he said. “By the time the game comes, they will be psychologically and mentally drained. We’re not focusing on the game until a specific time so the players don’t have to think about it…it means a lot to both teams…but we don’t want to wear them out with it.”
Saban said LSU will have a potent offense led by NFL prospect Zach Mettenberger at quarterback.
“They have really good skill players on the outside,” he said. “(Mettenberger) has a good arm… he’s a very accurate passer. He throws the ball to the right place.”
Saban said the Tigers have a balanced attack and Mettenberger is the engine that turns its wheels with his execution. “He’s playing as well as anyone in our league right now,” Saban said.
Alabama’s Pro-Style Should Be Attractive to Recruits
Saban was asked if the spread offense poses any challenges in recruiting. He said the spread offense is attractive to some players, but the Alabama Crimson Tide pitches it’s pro-style to recruits as a way to “Help them develop a career as a football player.”
“Our program reflects a pro-style type of attack that should be attractive to most players,” he said.