The No. 20 University of Alabama football team (6-2, 4-1 SEC) wrapped up its open week with a two-hour session inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility to avoid damp, chilly conditions Thursday afternoon.
“With the bye week coming up you want to get a little rest, try and get healthy, but do as much as you can to improve as a team offensively, defensively and special teams,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. “That’s what our focus is mostly this week. We have an opportunity to play a great team, another good SEC team. The game is about the players and it’s our job to get our players prepared as well as we can so they have a good chance to be successful at the next opportunity that we have and for the rest of the season.”
After some weight-lifting on Friday, the team will be off Saturday and Sunday before resuming practice on Monday, Oct. 29 for next week’s game with No. 3 LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Coach Saban also had these comments during the SEC Head Football Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday.
On changes in SEC and closeness of games
“I thought it was a great league when I was in it before. There were a lot of great football teams, lot of great programs. If anything has changed, the league has continued to improve. I think there are more good teams now, more parity in the league and just about every game that you play is a game you could win or lose. I think there is eight or nine teams in the league there are a couple of teams that maybe have a little more talent or whatever but there are eight or nine teams in the league that are not that much dissimilar, in terms of who they have and what they have. I think they key to it is if you can get your team to play with consistency. That is the real challenge for all of us. That is the only way you can succeed in this league. You can never get satisfied and you can’t ever get frustrated when things don’t go well. You have to play the next one because they are all so difficult.”
On how difficult the hype will be for the Alabama-LSU game
“It’s not going to be hard for me. We try not to be affected by external factors. Our players here play for Alabama. It’s our job to get our players here to play the best they can play. We have a tremendous amount of respect for LSU and the people at LSU. It was a special time for us in our time there. The people supported us in the things that we were able to accomplish. They have a great coaching staff now and a great football team and a lot of great football players. The challenge for us is to get our team ready to play and beyond that there is really not that much else in it. It really is about the players. They have a lot of great players. We want to do a good job and give our players a chance to play a good game.”
On keeping an even keel each and every week
“Over the year’s you learn that every game is important because they all count one. If you have a great win and you can’t maintain your level of intensity or standard of excellence to improve and play a little bit better the next week there is always somebody that can beat you. Then that game becomes the most important game they you are playing and the players have to realize that and be able to focus on that. We’ve always tried to talk about the 24-hour rule. If you win, you have 24 hours to enjoy it and then you better put it behind you and get ready for the next one. If you lose, you have 24 hours to be upset about and you better put that behind and get ready for the next one. I think that’s pretty much the way it is with all the close games now and games coming down to the final play, your ability to focus and maintain your intensity is really critical I think to have a chance of being successful.”
On keeping momentum during bye week
“I don’t think anybody really knows whether a bye week is good, bad or indifferent. I think that it is what it is. It gives you an opportunity to get some rest. I’ve always been one of those guys that If you play six weeks in a row, that’s pretty emotionally and physically taxing, especially in a league as competitive as ours. I think there is a time when recovery and rest can be good. It’s good to get healthy. I think you can use the time to try and improve your team and then when it’s time to focus on the next game try and get everybody re-centered and focused on the next game that you have to play. There is a lot of speculation whether it’s a good time to have a bye week or a bad time to have one. The fact of the matter of it is, that’s a hard prediction. It’s a hard thing to feel and read. You just have to make the best of the opportunity when you have it.”