Alabama needs discipline on Saturday


Nick Saban answered questions about the upcoming game against Georgia during Wednesday’s press conference. CW | Hanna Curlette

Terrin Waack

Alabama knows that it cannot make mistakes during Saturday’s game against Georgia if it wants to win.

Heading to Athens, Alabama will face the undefeated Bulldogs on their home turf. For the first time since 2009, Alabama is the underdog with a 3-1 overall record.

“It’s always a challenge playing on the road in the SEC, and I think it’s always a test of your competitive character to be able to stay focused and do the things that you need to do to execute and do your job under difficult circumstances,” coach Nick Saban said.

It’s the little things here and there that will add up to determine who brings home a victory.

“I think when you play a good team that’s very balanced and does a great job of executing, you have to match that with your ability to execute and everybody do their job,” Saban said.

Georgia has accumulated 1,965 offensive yards on 238 plays. Its rushing game is strong, especially with running back Nick Chubb. Georgia as a team has 1,031 yards rushing and Chubb contributed 599 of those.

Not only will the defense have to be on its toes against the Bulldogs, but the offense has to be just as alert and ready to go. Georgia’s secondary is aggressive.

“They do a good job of disguising in the secondary,” Saban said. “They play multiple coverages [that] I think the quarterback has to be able to identify so he’s throwing the ball in the right place at the right time.”

With that disguised secondary, Georgia caught five interceptions so far this season, and Alabama has thrown six. Four of those interceptions came from quarterback Jake Coker.

Good decisions on offense will be key.

“You have to play fast against them,” Saban said. “The receivers have to play fast and be precise in what we’re doing and the quarterback has to make a good decision about where he goes with the ball. They have been a very, very aggressive secondary.”

The season opener against Wisconsin was Coker’s first road game with Alabama, and that was a non-conference game. Saban said he thought that was Coker’s best game, but since then, he has gained more confidence.

“I think the key thing with Jake is to play with the right passion and energy and not get affected by external factors and just focus on what he needs to do on that particular play, make the right read,” he said.

Coker has completed 68-of-123 passes for 786 yards and eight touchdowns. He averages 196.5 yards per game.

“He’s very capable of making all the plays he needs to make, so it comes down to mindset and focus,” Saban said.

Coker will need to focus on the right reads, the right plays and the right throws on Saturday. This will help him avoid adding to Georgia’s list of interceptions, and it will also keep his own offense moving. The defense can try and hold strong and keep Georgia from scoring, but if the offense can’t make it into the end zone, then eventually Georgia will.

It’s been discussed cornerback Cyrus Jones may see more time at wide receiver now that Robert Foster is out, but coaches have had a difficult time trying to make that happen.

“It’s going to be very important for us to continue having the kind of competitive spirit that’s been reflected in some of our other teams,” Saban said. “It’s a challenge for this team to create that identity for themselves.”