Saban: Season winding up, not winding down

By Hunter Ford

Nick Saban says the Alabama football season is not winding down, it’s winding up.

At his Wednesday evening press conference, Saban was asked to evaluate his senior class as the season is “winding down.”  Before commenting on the seniors, he said the Tide still has a lot to look forward to “relative to the opportunities” that lie ahead.

“I would disagree that the season is winding down,” he said.  “It’s kind of winding up.”

Saban finished his answer, saying that senior leadership has been a big factor in the Tide’s success so far.  He attributed the leadership ability to the fact that his seniors are “well-liked” by their teammates and have reached out to help younger players.

“They care and they are willing to help other people on the team,” Saban said.  He said many seniors who have reached out to younger players were struggling themselves at earlier points in their playing careers.

Saban said his team is looking forward to homecoming week, and another game in friendly confines.

“Brant-Denny has been a fabulous venue, it’s has a real impact on how we play at home,” he said.

Young wide receivers

Wide receivers Cam Sims, Robert Foster, ArDarius Stewart, and Chris Black have all made “progress” this season, Saban said.  He said Sims has done a good job blocking, but stressed he is not only placed in games to block.  He said Sims is often substituted in to give Amari Cooper a rest, but that the coaching staff also has confidence in his catching ability.

“Hopefully, the time will come that they can all make contributions,” Saban said of the young receivers.

Defensive line

The defensive line has done a good job “disrupting passes” and has a routine drill in practices, knocking down passes.  Saban said it was “surprising, in this day and age” how many passes are thrown short across the middle.  He said film studies reveal to his defensive lineman just how vulnerable those passes are.  He said the Tide linemen read those passes in the rushing lanes.  “It’s been very helpful,” he said.

Saban praised defensive lineman Jonathan Allen as being “very productive, very instinctive,” and gave him “an A in all phases.”

Saban has Muschamp’s back

Saban said he has tried to reach out to Will Muschamp, who was fired recently by Florida, but has not “hooked up” with him yet.  Muschamp will coach the Gators’ final regular season games.  Saban said the only time he can call is early in the morning or right before practice, and he suspects Muschamp is “busy.”

He praised Muschamp for his competitiveness on the field and in recruiting and said, “We’ll do anything we can for him.  We’ll be there to help him any way we can.”

Saban’s first impression of Amari Cooper

Asked to reflect on Amari Cooper, Saban said he remembered being impressed when Cooper came to an Alabama football summer camp as a high school player.  He said Cooper’s quickness, ability to break, and other skills led him to think Cooper could be the best receiver to come through an Alabama camp.

“We’ve had a lot of good receivers in our camps,” he added.

Blake Sims’ extra work

Saban said he didn’t mind Blake Sims seeking out extra coaching from an outside quarterback coach over the past summer.  Saban said he gives Sims most of the credit for tremendous improvement in the off-season.

“I think he created it with his work ethic and how badly he wanted to improve as a player,” Saban said.

Western Carolina

The Catamounts are 7-4 and will be playing their season finale against Alabama.  They will be led by quarterback Troy Mitchell, who has passed for 2,320 yards with 18 touchdowns and a completion rate of 66 percent.  Mitchell has also run for 572 yards with six rushing touchdowns.