Countdown to Kickoff
FAST FIVE: Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban



TUCSALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are preparing for Saturday’s homecoming game against the Houston Cougars at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Here are some of Coach Saban’s thoughts on this weekend’s game in this week’s “Fast Five” segment.

On overall observations of Alabama team heading into this week’s game
 “I think what we are trying to get accomplished here is our focus needs to on playing winning football on a more consistent basis, big plays, turnovers, special teams, field position.  All those things contributed to the disappointing loss we had at Florida State.  Those are things that can be corrected and those are things we need to continue to work on.   Our third down conversions have been a problem in the last two games on both sides of the ball.  We can’t give up the big play on defense and we need to make more big plays on special teams and offense.  I think that was the difference in our last game. So to improve on those things, to improve on the identity of our team, relative to our ability to execute and play with the toughness and competitiveness we would like to have is really important.  That’s what we are trying to focus on.”

On the Houston Cougars
“Houston is a very good team.  They won 10 games last year. They are one of the top offensive teams in the country.  They have eight starters back on defense.  This is going to be a challenging game for us, as all of these games are in the middle of the season in the SEC.  These kinds of games take a lot of maturity by the players to prepare properly, to have the kind of focus that you need to play against a good football team that is not in your league.  This is obviously the second week in a row that we need to be able to do that.”

On Houston wide receiver Donnie Avery
“He is an outstanding player.  They have some real good skill guys that are weapons and he is certainly one of them.  I think the combination of the runner and several receivers that they have, including Donnie, who makes a lot of big plays and they do a good job of getting him the ball.  I think, to me, the strength of their offensive team is the skill players.  They do a great job of getting them the ball in space and those guys deliver with a lot of big plays.  Donnie is as good a receiver as we have played against all year.”

On Alabama freshman linebacker Rolando McClain
“He has done a fantastic job for us.  He was thrown in there when he didn’t have a whole lot of time to maybe learn and adjust and adapt to everything and he has done a real good job playing.  We have had to move him around a little bit, which has probably been unfair to him.  He has handled it well and he has done an outstanding job.”

On strategy of late timeouts called by coaches
“I think you should be able to call a timeout right up until the guy kicks, but once the ball turns over or once the center snaps the ball the play is in progress and I don’t think you should be able to do that.  We called one at the end of regulation against Georgia right before the guy was ready to kick that had not snapped the ball yet.  So, I think its good strategy to try and freeze the kicker, or whatever you want to call it.  I don’t think it should be allowed after the play has started.”