Saban Knows Bowers Will Challenge Alabama
For the third straight day, Alabama coach Nick Saban addressed the media, this time for his usual Monday availability. Here's a look at what the Tide coach said about this week's SEC Championship Game against Georgia.
"When I went to church yesterday, the first thing I said was, ‘Thank God what could have happened, didn't happen. I think in just reviewing this game, a little bit of a reality check. One of the things we wanted to do in the game was channel our passions and energy into positive execution on the field. And I think when we did that, we played really, really well. But there were some times where we didn’t, and it was very costly in terms of some of the errors that we made, whether they were penalties or mistakes on defense or whatever it might be. So the reality check part comes from taking the good things and building on them and getting some of these other things corrected.
"Having the opportunity to play in the SEC championship game is — I’m very, very proud of this team for the progress that they've made, the work that they've done to give themselves an opportunity to play in the SEC championship game. This is one of the most competitive, best venues in college football, and we're obviously playing one of the best teams in college football, if not the best team in college football. Kirby’s done a fantastic job there. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to win 29 games in a row, or even be 12-0 in a season.
"They’ve got really good players. They’re really well-coached. They’re one of the most prolific offensive teams in the country in terms of yards, points, ability to run, ability to pass. They've got good players at every position. Defensively, they're the number one team in the SEC. Got good players, well-coached, do a really, really good job. And they also do a great job on special teams. They've got good specialists. This is a team that doesn't have a lot of weaknesses. That's why they are who they are and what they are. And it's gonna be really important for us to do a great job of executing and do what we do the best that we can do it."
On what he learned vs. UGA in 2021
"You know, I don’t really know, I think this is about this team how they prepare for this game. Not very many guys on this team [were] on that team. Some of the guys that were on that team understood what championship preparation is really all about, and I think their leadership and our message is going to be that's exactly what we need in this game. But it's hard to draw comparisons from people who didn't have that experience sometimes. Hopefully, some of the older guys on the team will be able to give us the leadership that we need to be able to get that message across."
On Jermaine Burton
"Jermaine has done a really good job for us and we continue to harp on consistency in performance all the time. He's been very productive for us. You know, we played against him, and we thought he was a good player when we played against him, so that was probably the reason for our interest in him to start with. And he hasn’t disappointed us with his performance on the field. We continue to work on his ability to stay focused on you know, do your job well, create value every play in terms of what you do and be consistent in your performance, and he’s certainly made strides in that direction."
"We’ve talked about on several occasions him developing confidence in what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it, why he’s supposed to do it that way. The improved communication of the offensive line I think has contributed to that development of confidence. I think that’s the one word that when you have success, which he has had more success in recent games, that really helps build confidence and an expectation that you can do things at a high level. And that's how you prepare, that’s how you go play."
"Georgia's got a really, really good offensive team and the quarterback obviously does a fantastic job of, whether they're running the ball, carrying out fakes, play action passes, dropback passes — I mean he is very efficient and effective in everything he does. He's very accurate with the ball. He's smart, throws it the right place. So he does a great job of implementation of exactly what they want to do. And they have a really, really good scheme.
On the Alabama-Georgia rivalry
"I think that all these sort of, you call them rivalry games, some of them are instilled in the culture, like the Auburn game, the Iron Bowl. That's a part of the culture. People have been watching that game for how many years, and it's always going to be that. Some of these other sort of rivalry games, as you call them, aren't traditional rivalries. But because there's two really good teams playing and it's been historically that way for a while, they become those kind of games. That's kind of what this has become.
"You don't get an opportunity to play against a team who's won 29 straight games very often, which speaks to their quality but it also speaks to the challenge and the opportunity that our team has in preparing for a team like this."
On is Georgia more dynamic with both Ladd McConkey and Brock Bowers
"Both those guys are really good players, so obviously very dynamic. But I will say this, that the players who have played for those guys — and this speaks to the depth of Georgia's team — 4 is a really good tight end and has done a really, really good job. 1, 86, 5, the other receivers that have played — they've done a really good job and they're really, really good players. Those two guys are fantastic players in their own right and they're very productive. But the players who have stepped up to take their place have done a really, really good job as well."
"He's done a fantastic job and I think the players have responded well to him. Our technique has gotten better. Our communication has gotten better. The continuity of playing together has gotten better. And I think the results that we're getting is showing that. But I also think this is probably the best front they're going to go against all year to this point. So it'll be interesting to see how that matchup sort of transpires."
"I just think that for any player, probably most importantly at quarterback because you have the ball every down to do something with — whether it's to throw it to somebody, hand it to somebody, run it yourself, whatever — what I mentioned earlier about having passion to play and not getting overly emotional where you don't make good decisions and choices, whether it's because you put pressure on yourself or trying to make plays or whatever — everybody wants to make plays but everybody's got to trust and believe in if I do exactly what I'm supposed to do on this play, that's going to give the best opportunity for this play to be successful and for us to make plays within the system and the scheme.
"And for the most part, we've been doing a great job with that. But it kind of goes back to what I said earlier, and that's not just the quarterback but when we've gotten a little emotional in the game and it led to penalties or poor choices and decisions in some cases, that's not really putting your passion into what you need to do on the field to execute. And I think sometimes when you get outcome oriented — which sometimes when you want to win a game really, really bad you get outcome oriented — that sort of leads to those kind of emotional surges that can create some issues as a competitor."
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Gallery Credit: Noah Haynes