“They’re a tougher team than people think,” Saban said. “They’re 3-1, they have a good offense, and they have one of the best turnover margins in the country. One of the reasons they are having so much success is because they have such a good turnover margin, and their secondary makes a lot of plays for them.”
Offensively, the Commodores need to perform better than they did in their 21-3 loss to South Carolina in order to move the ball on the Crimson Tide defense. Quarterback Larry Smith had 44 yards through the air and only got 18 rushing yards from leading rusher Zac Stacy.
Moving the ball will be difficult for Vanderbilt because the Alabama defense only allows 1.8 yards per carry.
DT Josh Chapman featured on SI cover
For the third time in six months, Alabama has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Defensive tackle Josh Chapman was the cover athlete with “Ram! Jam! ‘Bama!” as the headline. Saban jokingly recognized how unusual it is for defensive players to be in such prominent roles.
“I was wondering how that happened myself,” Saban said. “Let me say this. He’s probably happy that he was on the cover, but he’s being harassed about it. Not just by players, but by certain coaches.”
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw put the harassment aside for Chapman.
“I haven’t seen it, but I heard on the radio this morning that he was on it,” Upshaw said. “I’m happy for anyone on it. A defensive player on it – you know I’m happy.”
Trent Richardson was on the cover for SI’s college football preview issue, and SI featured former corner back Javier Arenas walking through the destruction of the April 27th tornado on the cover in the aftermath.
Focus on defense going to holding assignments
A big contributor to the three losses of the 2010 season was busted plays on defense. That has not been a problem thus far in the 2011 season, and Saban gave some details about what goes into that on Wednesday.
“When you look at it from a defensive perspective, I think a mental error means you have some part of the field undefended, a gap, and if they take advantage of that, they have a very good chance of having an explosive play,” Saban said. “We sit down and we look at every play, and if I can’t write down why that defense succeeded or failed, we’ve got bad defense, bad coaching, a lot of bad things going on.”
Saban went on to say that the defense should work unless there is a missed assignment, a missed tackle, bad execution or other things of that nature, and it is those things that the Tide will work on throughout the season.