Five quick hits from Nick Saban's Monday press conference:
1. Well it’s finally LSU week. The game that’s been circled, starred, highlighted, whatever-ed on every college football fan’s calendar for quite some time. Probably since the last time these two played each other for the national championship in January.
During his weekly Monday press conference, Alabama head coach Nick Saban described what kind of team his Crimson Tide will be up against Saturday night in Death Valley:
“These guys have obviously been pretty successful at home. They’ve got the longest winning streak in the country (22 games),” he said. “Les Miles, to me, has done as good a job in our league as anybody ever has in terms of what he’s been able to accomplish and the consistency that they’ve accomplished as a team.”
Saban is huge on consistency, so anything regarding that topic on a positive note is quite a compliment.
“They’ve still got great running backs and they’re still able to run the ball very effectively,” he continued. “The line of scrimmage in this game, on both sides of the ball, is probably one of the most important factors in this game.
“They’re a ball-hawking, big-turnover type of defense that creates a lot of negative plays for you. They still have really good explosive players on offense to make big plays down the field. If you’re trying to load up to stop the run, you create problems for yourself.”
2. Nothing new on the injury front. It’s the ninth week of the season and football players around the country are nursing bumps and bruises. Quarterback A.J. McCarron, who hurt his knee against Missouri and has been wearing a brace ever since, has a back contusion (really deep bruise) from getting sacked against Mississippi State, and wide receiver Amari Cooper has a sore ankle.
“We look for them to progress pretty rapidly through the week and be OK, probably even by tomorrow,” Saban said.
3. With all the Heisman hype surrounding McCarron, who’s thrown 18 touchdowns to zero interceptions this season, Saban was asked if it’s a good or bad thing for his quarterback to labeled as a “game manager.”
“To me, you can’t be a good quarterback unless you’re a good game manager,” he said. “Because you’ve got the ball in your hands every time and you’re making some kind of choice and decision of what to do with it.
“I don’t think it’s fair to AJ that because I said he’s a really good game manager for us that it’s like that means he doesn’t do anything. He does everything. I don’t think you can be a good quarterback unless you’re a really good game manager. That’s the ultimate compliment to me.”
4. Because of Alabama and LSU’s recent history, of course this weekend’s matchup will be emotional. However, Saban is doing everything he can to make sure his team doesn’t get too hyped up, and that they realize this game against the Tigers is just like any other Saturday.
“I think there is such a thing as almost being too ramped up for a game,” he said.
5. Alabama ranks No. 1 in the country in red zone efficiency, scoring 97 percent of the time. This season, the Tide has scored 26 touchdowns compared to eight field goals. Obviously scoring a touchdown is ideal when inside the opponent’s 20, but in last year’s regular season matchup, Alabama only got inside the red zone once and settled for a field goal.
“It’s our goal offensively to be 90 percent effective in the red zone,” Saban said. “We have made improvements. It’s pretty obvious that when you score touchdowns, it’s worth twice as much as field goals. So that’s always the goal every time you get there.”
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