Alabama Football Update: Saban calls Auburn one of the best teams in the country; no luck about it
By Hunter Ford
Nick Saban, at his Monday Iron Bowl press conference, said Auburn has one of the best teams in the country; and their victory over Georgia was deserved.
Saban covered a lot of ground in a press conference that was twice as long as his usual Monday meeting with the media.
He said he was happy with his team’s last game, a 49-0 win over FCS opponent Chattanooga.
“We did some really good things in the game,” he said. “I think we built some momentum in terms of this time of year…that’s what you’d like to do by playing well and executing well. Obviously there are some things we can improve on, on both sides of the ball and special teams. We’ll try to get those things corrected today.”
Saban said the Iron Bowl is a great opportunity for players to compete in a game that means a lot to both sides. He was asked whether the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat crossed his mind prior to the game.
“I can’t answer that,” Saban said. “I never think of things in those terms. I don’t sit around thinking whether we are going to celebrate or be sad.” Saban said he focuses on doing the right things as a coach, to give his players the best chance to be successful.
“When the game’s over, it is what it is,” he said. Saban said if coaches and players believe they did the best they could do, then they can live with the outcome.
Saban called Auburn a “very, very good team” with a 10-1 record to prove it. Asked to compare Auburn’s miracle finish against Georgia to “The Bluegrass Miracle,” a game Saban won against Kentucky while coaching at LSU, Saban said the games were different.
Saban said his LSU team did not play well against Kentucky before winning on a Hail Mary pass that was tipped into the hands of a receiver. He said Auburn, in his opinion, had played well against Georgia, and deserved to win; and they were able to come up with a big play in the final moments to make it happen.
“We (LSU) were lucky to win. I don’t think they (Auburn) were lucky to win,” he said. “They were rewarded, in the end, with a big play.”
Saban pointed out that Auburn has been extremely effective offensively “against everybody in this league.”
“All the way around, this is a very, very good team,” he said. Saban said the Tide secondary will have to play “physical on the edges” and that “everybody in the secondary” will have to play run support, to stop Auburn’s efficient read-option offense.
Saban had high praise for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who has nearly 1,000 yards rushing. But Saban cautioned that Marshall can also pass effectively, and “throws a really good deep ball.” He called Marshall “one of the most talented guys in our league” and “as effective as anybody we play.”
Marshall will have the option of giving the ball to running back Trey Mason, who Saban described as a threat to run inside or outside. Saban said the defense will have to play effectively as a unit to defend both options, while still being ready for passes.
Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley will be crucial to stopping Auburn, Saban said.
“C.J.’s played fantastic football all year…I can’t think of a bad game he’s had,” Saban said. “His leadership, in terms of getting guys lined up right, will be just as critical as his phenomenal play.”
Saban said Mosley will have to “get everybody in the right spots, and do it fast.”
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron will need to play his usual “even-keeled” game, and not make emotional mistakes, Saban said.
“You can’t force plays or do something out of the ordinary,” Saban said.