Saban: Practice, play like Hulk, not guy selling newspapers

By Hunter Ford

Nick Saban wants his players to prepare each week as if they were going to play, whether they are first string or fourth string.

At his Wednesday afternoon press conference, Saban said every Tide player should be striving to be the best they can be whether they are high or low on the depth chart.

When asked about Altee Tennpenny, who has seen duty at special teams, but could see more playing time on offense this week, Saban began by saying Tenpenny had played well so far and had done everything that was asked of him. Saban, however, got more perturbed as he went on.

He said players too often have the mindset that “If I’m gonna play I’m gonna do something different.”

“Your attitude shouldn’t change,” he said. “That’s probably one of the biggest problems we’ve got.  A guy thinks he’s not gonna play and he doesn’t have the same mentality…then all of a sudden someone’s hurt…and you’re playing.”

Saban was then asked about the status of his back-up centers.

“Because they think they’re gonna play they’ve completely changed,” Saban said. “I wouldn’t even recognize them on the street.  Who’s the guy that changes?  The Hulk?  When they think they’re gonna play they’re the Hulk.  When they don’t, they look like that guy selling newspapers.”

A worked up Saban ended the press conference saying, “I think I’ve already answered that question. Goll-ee!”

PRACTICE HAS GONE WELL SO FAR

Saban said the Tide practiced well Monday and Tuesday. He described Wednesday’s practice as “more difficult” because of the increased heat, but said the players “worked through it.”

He said the team has responded well this week to “the adversity that we’ve created for ourselves.”

PENALTIES

Saban said he has been emphasizing the importance of reducing penalties all year long, and railed against the media for putting more emphasis on the Tide’s yardage output. He referenced the Florida game when Alabama penalties and turnovers cost the Tide 21 points against the Gators.

“I’ve been talking about penalties all year long,” he said. “No one spoke a word about it. All ya’ll put in the paper was how many yards we got.  Penalties were killing us before.”

ARKANSAS O-LINE DOMINANT

Saban said the Arkansas offensive line has been dominant, and he noted the Razorbacks are a good team overall. The Razorbacks lost a close contest to Texas A&M last time out.  They had a bye week to prepare for Alabama.

Saban said the Razorbacks lineman are big and physical and “can maul you” if the proper defensive technique is not used. “You can’t get away with not doing it right,” he said.

He said it also would be important for the defensive secondary to make proper reads on running plays and in pass coverage.

“You’ve got a guy who’s been blocking the safety and cracking back all day…then you don’t look at him right and all of a sudden he’s 20 yards behind you,” Saban said.

SABAN’S RESPONSE TO McCARRON

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, on a Tuscaloosa radio station, said Alabama’s offense lacked leadership.

McCarron said the Tide defense has leadership on the defensive side of the ball with linebacker Trey DePriest and safety Landon Collins, but leadership was needed on the offense.

Asked for a response during his SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday morning, Saban said he didn’t agree with the assessment.

“I don’t know how AJ would really know, but I don’t necessarily see that as the case,” he said.

Saban said with a new quarterback, Blake Sims, it may seem there is not a high level of leadership. He said several players had played well and had shown leadership quality.  Sims has had to concentrate on his own assignments, “But actually, I think Blake does a pretty good job…well-liked by his teammates.  He’s a very positive high-energy guy that has shown leadership.”

Saban said Alabama did not play well in a loss to Ole Miss last week.

“I’m sorta responsible for that…all that, as coaches and players, to make sure we’re ready to play our best against good teams in tough environments on the road.,” he said.