By Hunter Ford
Nick Saban says the 2014 Florida Gators are an outstanding team. In 2013, Florida struggled to one of its worst records in recent history, going 4-8.
Saban, at his Wednesday afternoon press conference, said that was partly due to numerous injuries at key positions. The Gators are full strength for their showdown with Alabama, 2:30 CT, Saturday, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“They are way better, way better, than anyone here thinks,” Saban said. “It’s important our players play their very best.”
Saban said the Tide has had a good week of practice. Recently, hot weather has prompted Saban to practice the team indoors. He said it was important for the players to know the game plan, and get the reps they need, but not at the risk of being “zapped out this close to the game.”
“We have to keep the main thing the main thing,” he said. “Focus on what you need to do right now…know the game plan, but take care of yourself.”
Saban said receiver Dee White has practiced all week and “done fine.” Safety Jarrick Williams, who has been recovering from injuries, has also done well. Saban said he is “not sure what we will do with him” as far as playing this week. William’s status will be determined by the medical staff.
Alabama free safety Nick Perry will be forced to sit out the first half of the Florida game after receiving a second half targeting foul in the Southern Miss game. Alabama moves several defensive backs in different positions depending on its coverage schemes. Saban was asked about the status of defensive back Tony Brown. According to Saban, Brown has been improving and “will play a lot in this game.”
Asked about the importance of safety Landon Collins, Saban said Collins was a “good player,” a “good person,” and is an important leader on the team.
“We don’t have anybody else at his position that has what he has and has produced what he has produced,” he said.
NEW OFFENSIVE PLAYS
Asked if the Tide was working on some “new looks” for quarterback Blake Sims, Saban responded, “Yeah, we probably are.”
But Saban said the most important thing is to “execute” plays that have already proven successful. He said the Tide may practice some new plays it can use in the game, but it does no good to “put stuff in and not do it well.”
“When it is all said and done, it comes down to execution,” he said. “We need to continue to do things we do well, and know how to block and execute.”
Asked if he would still use two quarterbacks, Saban said he has confidence in Jake Coker. “If we need to play Jake, we certainly have no problems putting him in there and allowing him to play.”
Saban was asked if Cooper had “quiet confidence.”
“When you say ‘quiet’,’ it’s okay to say he’s ‘quiet,’ but I don’t think he’s a shy person,” Saban said. “He will tell you what he thinks. He doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t do a lot of trash talking. He listens and is respectful of the coaches. I have a lot of respect for players that go about their business like he does. He’s a good person and a good competitor.”
NFL PLAYERS EXAMPLES OF HOW NOT TO BEHAVE
At his Wednesday SEC Coaches teleconference, Saban was asked about his reaction to the off field issues of some NFL players.
“We probably have 15-20 speakers a year, and spend a tremendous amount of money on personal development in all areas, whether it’s domestic violence type issues, how to treat other people, how to be a man,” Saban said. “Drugs, alcohol, agents…all these things affect young people. I think every opportunity we have where there’s an example of consequences for behavior that’s not what we’re trying to develop, we certainly use that as a teaching opportunity with our team.”