Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Big 3: Saban likes SEC's title chances
By Alex Scarborough
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban took to the SEC's weekly teleconference Wednesday morning to talk about how his team is coping with its first loss of the season. He touched on Texas A&M's Heisman hopeful at quarterback, his team's focus moving forward and whether a one-loss SEC team should make it to the national championship game.
1. How they got here: Saban started out his turn on the teleconference by repeating what he has said since Saturday night. "We haven't played as well the last couple of games," he explained, again bringing the narrow LSU win back into the discussion.
Alabama played sloppily in the past two weeks because of a lack of effort and focus on both sides of the football. The offense bottomed out in the third quarter of both games and let the momentum gained heading into halftime slip away. Meanwhile the defense struggled to come up with big plays when they were needed, missing tackles and failing to finish plays.
"We need to not focus on what's happened in the past, but look forward and try to get things corrected so we can play better in the future," Saban said.
2. Another one-loss team in the title game?: It happened last season when Alabama recovered from a regular-season loss to beat LSU in the national championship game, so why can't it happen again? Alabama and Georgia seem the most likely one-loss candidates from the SEC, as the two are ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the BCS Standings, respectively. They'll likely meet in the league championship Dec. 1 and the winner could be in line for a national title berth if the chips fall in the right places. Even if Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame survive, how would their resumes stack up with a one-loss SEC team?
"You have to take the whole body of work the team has, relative to the strength of schedule ... In some kind of way two really good teams are going to play in the SEC championship game, and that elevates their status and I think they deserve to go to the game," Saban said before hedging his bets by adding that he's not in a position to make comparisons.
3. Still talking about Johnny Football: The players and coaches are ready to put Saturday's loss to Texas A&M behind them, but the media isn't. Saban was asked twice about the challenges of facing the Aggies with the focus inevitably turning to their freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, whom some argue should be close to the top of the Heisman Trophy race after nearly singlehandedly beating Alabama.
"He has unique talent to not only throw the ball effectively but has great instinct for when to scramble, where the pressure's coming from, how to evade and extend plays. He's just a unique guy, and you've got to be really, really disciplined on defense to be able to play against that," Saban explained. " ... It's a combination of the tempo that they play at and his ability to extend plays and make plays, especially on third downs. He makes a lot of big plays doing things that most people aren't capable of doing. Obviously he did a great job against us. He played a great game. I think to a large degree some of those plays that he was able to make made a huge difference in the game."