Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban previews Alabama vs. CSU; Saban says rain helps offense over defense; fields questions from national media about recruiting, and Ricky Williams’ coaching prospects
By Hunter Ford
Nick Saban continued to repeat his mantra of focus and consistency in his weekly teleconference Wednesday morning. He also answered questions about his recruiting plans and about former Miami Dolphin running back Ricky Williams.
“The big focus with our team, this week, is we need to improve,” Saban said. “Obviously we played a very good team (Texas A&M).”
Saban said the Tide “did some very good things” it a shoot-out with the Aggies, which he called an “especially good team.” He said the 49-42 victory was “great for the fans” but “takes years off your life, if you’re a coach.”
Saban said he was pleased with the performance of the offensive line, which looked shaky in the opener against Virginia Tech. The Tide O-line improved greatly in its second game, he said.
“I thought they did a fabulous job,” Saban said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage, they protected the quarterback, they controlled the tempo really well.”
Still, Saban said there was room for improvement. “I hope everybody is focused on making those improvements,” he said.
The Tide’s next opponent, Colorado State, will be coached by former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. The Rams lost close games to Colorado and Tulsa, and beat Cal Poly, while racking up impressive offensive stats.
Saban said McElwain has done a good job with the resources he has at Colorado State, and said McElwain would provide a “special challenge” for the Tide because of his knowledge of the program.
Rain is forecast for the showdown with McElwain and company. Saban said he believes rain would favor the offensive side of the ball.
“I think there’s a lot of misnomers about rain,” he said. “I think it is a lot harder to play pass defense in the rain than it is for the offense to pass the ball. We can’t allow circumstances or conditions to dictate how we play.”
Tide cornerback Deion Belue is “making progress” but still deemed questionable for Saturday’s game. If he doesn’t play, there are five different players, according to Saban, including two unnamed freshmen, who could see playing time.
Saban said John Fulton, Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones, along with the two freshmen, are competing for the job. “And at the end of the week, we’ll see which one ofthose guys can play the best and those guys are the guys we’ll put out there in the game.”
Saban’s bottom line: “Our guys have to play better fundamentally and do it on a more consistent basis.”
Nick Saban on National Recruiting:
Saban fielded a question from the Wall Street Journal concerning his recruiting “in Big Ten country.”
Asked if he did that because of previous ties to Michigan State, where he coached in the 1990s, Saban said he tries to recruit anywhere he can find good players.
“We try to do a great job in our state,” he said. “We try to do a great job within a five-hour radius of our school, then, we do what we call ‘over-the-top’ recruiting.” Saban said he’s looking for players in Texas, Ohio and the Washington D.C. area, or wherever he can find players to “compliment” the home-grown talent, or players who may be “the top players in the country.”
Nick Saban on Ricky Williams:
Saban was asked by USA Today about the coaching prospects of former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. Williams is known for his unique personality and for failing drug tests in the NFL, and abruptly leaving the Miami Dolphins. Saban coached Williams at Miami.
Saban said “people talk about Ricky for a lot of reasons,” but determined that “Ricky Williams will be a great coach.” Saban even went as far as to say, “Having him on our staff someday is something we would consider.”
Williams’ college coach, Mack Brown, of Texas, and Saban, wrote recommendations for Williams for the job he currently holds as an assistant at The University ofthe Incarnate Word, a small Catholic school in San Antonio, Texas.
Saban praised Williams for his competitive nature and his interest in the game of football.
“He was like a Pop Warner kid standing next to you, saying ‘When you gonna put me in the game coach?’” Saban recalled.