Saban: ‘Who’s making this team better?’

By Hunter Ford

Nick Saban covered a lot of ground in his Monday press conference as Alabama recovers from a loss to Ole Miss and looks forward to an improved Arkansas team.

Saban’s bottom line was “how do you respond?” He said it would be important for Alabama to “finish plays,” “finish drives,” and “finish the game.”  He said everyone from the coaches down should be asking, “Who’s making this team better?”


Although he largely deferred questions about Kenyan Drake’s status to medical personnel, Saban did say Drake would probably need eight to ten weeks of rehab time before “he could even think about playing football.” Drake had surgery for a broken leg and ankle.  Linebacker Denzell Devall also required surgery for an injury, but could possibly be able to play later in the season, according to Saban.

Center Ryan Kelly suffered a sprained knee and will likely be out for a couple of weeks. Saban said Bradley Bozeman and Josh Casher will take on the center’s role in Kelly’s absence.


Saban said it would be nice to have “our five best guys” playing at offensive lineman, but you “can’t just move the right tackle over and say ‘okay now you play center.”

He said the center has to be experienced snapping the ball and taking care of several pre-play responsibilities.

“There are a lot of things you have to do correctly before you can block the guy you have to block,” he said.


Saban said he couldn’t remember a time when he has emphasized ball security more, but the Tide continues to have issues. He said pushing hard to make big plays does no good if a player loses the ball, and he said “we are not carrying the ball correctly.”

“We need to reverse the trend of having a negative turnover ratio every week,” he said.

“There is nothing more important than ball security. Because we lose possession if we don’t protect the ball.”

Saban said “we have other people who are more capable” if ball security continues to be an issue.

He also said the defense has not been “attacking the ball” enough to create turnovers.

Young players on special teams need to make better decisions to avoid holding and block-in-the-back penalties, Saban said.

Regarding the interception in the end zone that ended Alabama’s hope of victory against Ole Miss, Saban said the pass play would have never been called except for a holding penalty. Alabama would have had the ball inside the 20 with 44 seconds to play and would have had more play call options.


Saban said the Tide has not played with as much “energy” or “enthusiasm” in games away from Bryant-Denny. He later clarified that, saying “mental toughness and focus” was the issue, not necessarily energy or enthusiasm.

“We need to play winning football whether we are playing out in the parking lot, Bryant-Denny, on the road, wherever,” he said.


Saban said Arkansas has been “dominating” in the way it has run the ball this season. He said the Razorbacks have been able to pass effectively when they need to because defenses are forced to concentrate heavily on stopping the running game.  He compared the Razorback offensive scheme to “old-time Bo Schembeckler, Woody Hayes football.”

He said the Tide defense has only played about a dozen downs of “regular” defense this season, because the opponents so far have been playing out of spread offenses for the most part. He said the Tide spent some time during the bye week this season reviewing “regular” defensive schemes.

“I never thought I would be here as a coach, in my lifetime, that running regular, I-formation plays and running the ball out of regular two wide receivers, two backs in the backfield, would be the anamoly of football,” Saban said.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    “He said everyone from the coaches down should be asking, “Who’s making this team better?”

    i hope Coach Saban means what he says. saturday’s game was again an example of how important it is to possess the ball first in the second half.

    the facemask/fumble/touchdown before the half rattled ole miss. it was obvious in that first third quarter drive as ‘Bama drove the ball down the field on them with relative ease. how they did this was critical. the first two plays were passes. one successful, one not. next came six straight running plays, all straight at that defense. yeldon was ripping them a new one.

    at that point i was convinced they had cracked the code as this was the first time i saw the offense operate with any rhythm. but Kiffin couldn’t stand success. once inside the 25 they started getting cute with the play calling. the drive stalled. the missed field goal. the three play touchdown drive by the rebels. a FOURTEEN POINT SWING.

    the complexion of the game changed right there. and all because Kiffin didn’t make ole miss stop us from jamming it down their throats.

    i used to cuss Coach Stallings for his insistence on the “3 yards and a cloud of dust offense” but they sure could have used that thought process on that drive.

    ole miss is not a good a team as Alabama. but ‘Bama played around and let them believe they were. and the rebels were good enough to beat us with what we gave them.


  2. 2
    Hunter Ford


    Even a field goal to make it 17-3 would have been huge

    Problem is we have done this before with different O-coordinators

    remember Tex A&M loss when we had the ball at goal line

    of course when it works…you know

    but it didn’t work……Sims also made mistakes costing us valuable yards on that drive against Ole miss and making the long field goal harder

    • 3
      The Conduit

      I thought the second half was marked by replacing the center, for one, including the two early wasted time-outs and a thrid mistake soon after where it cost Alabama a delay of game penalty.

      Christion Jones turned the ball over when Alabama was sitting on a 15-yard penalty from Ole Miss. Well, at least the second time he turned the ball over.

      Ole Miss also played out of their heads. That’s the best they could have played and it’s their biggest win in decades. They’ll likely get a stadium expansion for it, just as Oklahoma and TAMU did. It’s good to lose to a team’s best effort. They played a good football game. The mistakes Alabama made weren’t entirely unforced, particularly the worst fumble of the day. But OJ wasn’t the only one dropping passes, missing field goals, causing unforced penalties, etc.

      I don’t think this is Alabama’s only loss this year, either. But Alabama’s future still looks bright. I can’t wait for Arkansas. Curious.

  3. 4

    It is like what my old coach use to say, ” The team with the fewest mistakes wins the game!” Though it sounds obvious it plays so true in our case that we killed ourselves and Ole Miss was able to capitalize just enough to win. We are a better team, but Ole Miss made fewer mistakes, or rather fewer costly mistakes that we were not able to take advantage of. And what games do ya’ll think we are going to lose? Maybe Auburn if we mess around, but I don’t really see any other to take us out.

  4. 5

    I hear the first drop of the Blame Kiffin waterfall. He is such an easy target.

    @Ryan Other teams include: Miss St, Arkansas, A&M, Auburn. Maybe even the cud chewing Les Miles might beat Bama this year! That would be great!!! I bet all the mullets are losing sleep now.

  5. 6

    Actually @ICmullets , I’m about to go to sleep in a few . Just like your team , Bama can lose . I’m not worried at all but it seems every other fan base is worried for Bama . Just like Freeze said Bama is golden and will be . Losing is going to happen wether it be freshmen , mistakes , getting out coached or playing a better team . It’s gonna happen . It just doesn’t happen at Bama very often. That’s why every fan base is saying the “dynasty ” is over . Actually they and you are hoping it is . But it isn’t . I’m not worried at all. I’m actually excited for the future. We’ve lost before and I’m sure will will lose again . But I can assure you the Tide isn’t done . So keep on your bandwagon team whichever the flavor of the week is. We love you for it . ROLL TIDE !!!!

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