Saban wants players in ‘beast mode’

By Hunter Ford

In his Wednesday press conference, Nick Saban said some Tide players are practicing in “beast mode” while others…not so much.

“Focus stamina” is the key phrase for the week, Saban said. “You have to do it every day.” He said the Tide is still looking to establish “identity” as it heads into its third game of the season, 5 p.m., Saturday, at Bryant-Denny Stadium against 1-1 Southern Miss.

Saban said his team’s “effort and toughness” were “pretty good” in last week’s 41-0 victory over Florida Atlantic.  He is looking for more improvement in “execution.”

“We still had enough bad plays to stop ourselves inside the five-yard line,” Saban said.  He said the Tide can’t afford to come up short in the red zone against future competition “or this week.”

At the right guard position, Saban said Leon Brown played better against Florida Atlantic than he did against West Virginia.  Guard Alphonse Taylor still needs to develop consistency.

Saban said several young receivers also need to work on fundamentals and consistency.  Receiver Robert Foster went out of position on a pass play that should have been a touchdown, according to Saban.

Linebacker Rashaan Evans had a sack against Florida Atlantic, but was greeted with some coaching tips on the sidelines afterwards.  Saban said Evans failed to “wrap up” and said the entire defensive unit needs to improve on tackling fundamentals.

Offensive tackle Dominick Jackson needs to work on his footwork, according to Saban.

“Dominick’s a tough, physical, emotional guy,” Saban said.  “But he didn’t always do the little things.”  Saban said poor footwork caused Jackson to “whiff” a couple of blocks.

Wednesday morning, in his weekly SEC teleconference,  Saban said he wants to get tight end O.J. Howard more involved in the offense.  Howard has yet to catch a pass in two games.  The lone pass thrown his way so far, against West Virginia, was intercepted.  Howard was voted a first team, all-SEC player by both coaches and the media prior to the season.

“O.J. Howard is a guy that we need to get more involved in what we’re doing,” Saban said.  “I think he has some capabilities to make plays that we need to take advantage of.  He has been open a few times and we just haven’t gotten him the ball.”  Saban also added, “he needs to continue his development as a complete player.”

Howard has added a little weight since last season and continues to work on his blocking.

Saban said there were no new injuries to report.  Receiver DeAndrew White is running, according to Saban, but not ready to return.  A decision will be made on White’s status next week.