Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide approach every game with the same mentality, but this week, a strong sense of urgency can be felt in the football facilities.
“Obviously, this rivalry in the last few years has always meant a lot, whether it’s national rankings [or the] SEC West, [it’s] a very meaningful game,” Saban said.
Alabama will host No. 13 LSU this Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium, and the players are well aware that the Tigers are coming to town.
Sophomore center Ryan Kelly said former Crimson Tide center Barrett Jones told him to prepare for “an up-front battle” with LSU’s defensive line.
“Anytime you play LSU, or anyone at Alabama, it’s a big game, especially since it’s in Bryant-Denny,” Kelly said. “It’s a big game for us, and you can’t get all caught up in the hype, though. I think that’s what we did in 2011. We need to just have a good week of practice and maintain our course and we’ll be fine.”
Alabama has won two straight games against the Tigers and four of the last six contests, including a 21-17 come-from-behind victory in Baton Rouge last season.
Saban isn’t overlooking Les Miles and his team, and said the record does not reflect how good the Tigers have played this season.
“LSU, I think, is one of the best programs in the country, in terms of the quality of players they have, the great job that their coaches do in developing those players,” Saban said, “and also how they play and how they compete in every game that they play in. This team could very easily be 9-0.”
Saban also praised LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger for the way he’s led his offense. He credited Mettenberger and running back Jeremy Hill with making LSU’s offense so dangerous this season.
“This is by far the most explosive, most talented offensive team that we’ve faced all year long,” Saban said.
Saban misses ‘60 Minutes’ piece
CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a documentary on Saban Sunday night that portrayed the Alabama coach as a perfectionist.
But Saban was too busy watching film of LSU to relax in front of a television.
“We were obviously working last night until pretty late. I did not get the opportunity to watch the piece,” Saban said. “I did get a favorable comment from Miss Terry, so that means it must have been OK.”
The Alabama players were also at the team’s facility dissecting the ins and outs of the Tigers.
“I was watching film with the rest of the quarterbacks,” AJ McCarron said.
But from what Saban witnessed in the filming of the documentary, he seemed pleased with the message behind the news segment.
“It really represents not me but the program, in terms of the players in the program and the things that we do as a program, whether it’s summer camp or whatever, that we try to the best that we possibly can to help young players,” Saban said.
Tide doesn’t condone hazing
The Miami Dolphins, Saban’s former team, has made headlines because of veteran guard Richie Incognito’s bullying of second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Incognito’s actions resulted in Martin leaving the team. He has not returned.
Saban was adamant about this situation not occurring at Alabama.
“We don’t have that here,” Saban said. “We don’t aspire to that kind of treatment of anybody.”
Instead, Saban asks his veteran players to serve as mentors to the newcomers in the program.
“Our approach has been to get our older players to be supportive of the younger players, to remember how you felt when you were a freshman, maybe being away from home for the first time,” he said.