Saban, team prepare for explosive pass rush

As one of the biggest college football games of the year inches closer, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is making sure his team stays grounded, rather than getting caught up in the hype of the game.

For Saban and the team, LSU is too dangerous an opponent to risk going into the game with the wrong mindset. One of the most dangerous parts of the Tigers is their pass rush, which ranks third in the Southeastern Conference with 23 sacks this season.

That pressure is especially prevalent on the front line, with three players, Lavar Edwards, Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo all earning at least three sacks so far this season.

“They are the best pass-rushing team in the league,” Saban said. “They’ve got two really good edge rushers, they’ve got really good team speed. Their inside guys can rush as well… I think the combination of those things make them a very effective team.

Regardless of their pass rushing ability, Saban said he had faith the offensive line, especially tackles D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio would be able to handle the LSU rush.

“I think overall, they’ve done a good job, all year,” Saban said. “We certainly know that they’ve been beaten a few times, but I think at the same time, when you look at their whole body of work, both guys have done a really good job this year of blocking the edges.

McCarron discusses role as game manager

As the season has gone on, quarterback AJ McCarron has emerged as one of the Tide’s biggest offensive threats. He’s been efficient, made plays when they were needed, and minimized his mistakes.

For Saban, McCarron’s performance has earned him a title of game manager for the offense. McCarron said this role, however, doesn’t mean he’s unable to make plays for his team.

“What I think and what the media try to make it out to be is two totally different things,” McCarron said. “A game manager can be anything. He can throw nine touchdowns in one game, but he still managed the game.”

McCarron said his opinion of a game manager, very similar to Saban’s, was merely a player that minimized mistakes and took what the defense gave him.

With that said, McCarron said he would try to play with emotion against LSU, something he said he didn’t do last year in the regular season when his team lost in overtime, 9-6.

Regardless, McCarron said the defense fielded by LSU would be a challenge for him and the offense, and that it would need to be on its game to stay competitive.

“(LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis) is a great coach,” McCarron said. “I’m sure he’s got those guys ready to play, and we’re going to have to be on top of our game, our A-game to go out there and get a win.”

Saban celebrates 61st birthday

With Halloween comes another holiday of sorts, at least in Tuscaloosa. Saban’s birthday falls on Oct. 31, and the three-time national championship winning coach turned 61 Wednesday.

“I’d like to thank all the people who sent emails or called and wished me Happy Birthday,” Saban said. “It means a lot. I don’t get much opportunity to enjoy it this time of year, but certainly relationships mean a lot and people thinking of you makes you feel really good.”

His players tried to do a little bit of celebrating, but Saban could only think about one thing.

“All the guys when he walked in for the meetings said happy birthday to him,” cornerback Dee Milliner said. “We knew it was his birthday today. We tried to send him out to a happy point with his birthday, but he’s still the same old coach. ‘Yeah, guys, it’s my birthday today,’ but he was focused in, ready for the meetings to start.”