Alabama Football: Nick Saban’s Week 6 Press Conference

Coach Nick Saban acknowledged that his team played well against Florida and knows that Alabama must improve to stay in championship contention moving forward.

According to Saban, the Crimson Tide must continue to make the proper game plan preparations in order to avoid a letdown game leading up to the Nov. 5th showdown with LSU.

Saban seemed pleased with the way Alabama performed given the tough task of playing a highly touted Florida team at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The offense played well at times against the Gators, but the defense, primarily the secondary made bad reads and committed mistakes in coverage before finally settling down.

Now Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa of a homecoming game against Vanderbilt.  The Commodores (3-1) are a team that the Crimson Tide can’t look past.

“They’ve got 19 starters back from last year’s team. They’ve already won more games than they won last year and gotten off to a pretty good start… Their defense has been very opportunistic and led the nation in interceptions,” Saban said.

Because of the Commodores clutch defensive back play, AJ McCarron must be at his very best on Saturday.  The Alabama quarterback has done well thus far, passing for 919 yards and four touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions this season.

According to Saban, McCarron continues to work on paying attention to small details in the passing game.  But, despite doing a great job of ball protection McCarron continues to have trouble connecting with receivers deep down the field.

McCarron’s success can be partially attributed to the dominance shown by the offensive line.  The lines great play continued against a Florida team that possesses one of the nation’s best run stopping defenses.

“We had good protection for the most part. Never gave up sacks or negative plays that way,” Saban said.

Linemen D.J. Fluker, Anthony Steen, William Vlachos, Chance Warmack, and Barrett Jones have also played a large role in the running game.  The line has been able to create an excellent push while maintaining running lanes for backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.

The Crimson Tide rushing stable led by Richardson and Lacy has combined to run for 1149 yards and 17 touchdowns after five games.

Saban was also pleased with the way that the Alabama defense performed against Florida.  The defense was successful stopping the powerful Gator rushing attack, while the secondary was able to steadily improve on the way to a 38-10 victory.

While Alabama’s defense has performed well, ranking 3rd nationally in total yards given up per game, the Vanderbilt offense will be more confusing than in years past.  The Commodores attack is led by quarterback Larry Smith in a system that’s hard to plan for because of its fast paced playing style.

“They throw a whole lot of screens and bubble passes, and things that complement the running game,” Saban said.

The Crimson Tide defense must stay aware for all four quarters in order to keep the Commodores and their tricky offense from putting up points.

The game against Vanderbilt will be a good indicator of Alabama’s finishing ability.  The Crimson Tide must play well in the fourth quarter to avoid the type of late letdowns that occurred last season.

Check out the press conference transcript in its entirety here.

Four Quarters: Alabama vs. Florida

Alabama has continued to improve on the way to a 4-0 start out of the gate.  Next, the team must prepare for a showdown with the No. 12 Florida Gators, in ‘The Swamp’.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is no easy place to play.  The venue has a reputation for loud and rowdy fans.

On top of that, Florida (4-0) will be looking for retribution after a 31-7 loss to the Tide last season.

In his first year, new coach Will Muschamp has quickly transformed the Gators into a team that plays similarly to Alabama.  Because of Florida’s prowess on the ground on both sides of the ball, Alabama will be playing a near mirror image of itself.

Here’s what to watch for during Alabama’s game against the Florida Gators.

Will Muschamp is no stranger to Alabama’s aggressive playing style.  He was an assistant coach under Nick Saban at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins.

Look for Muschamp to run similar plays and packages as those used by Coach Saban.  This includes a relentless rushing attack led by Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.

Because of the pro-style offense utilized by Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, the Gators will have more blocking tight ends on the field and more overall balance compared to what Alabama saw last year against Urban Meyer’s spread formations.

The two running backs have combined for 731 yards and six touchdowns.  As a team, the Gators rank ninth in the nation in rushing yards per game.  These extravagant numbers make Florida potentially the toughest test on the ground for Alabama this season.

Also, expect Florida you utilize screens in the passing game.  Meyer used them effectively in his tenure with the Gators and Muschamp has continued to employ the running backs in the passing game.  This aspect of Florida’s offense will force the Crimson Tide defense to stay aware and make tackles on the edges of the field when the Gators run and throw screens to the outside.

While Florida won’t be throwing deep bombs on a regular basis expect the team to have a nice mix of run and pass.

Alabama’s offense has had no problems staying balanced either.

Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy continue to find success on the ground.  But, Florida will be their toughest test yet.  The Gator’s run defense is allowing 56.5 yards on the ground per game, which ranks fifth in the nation.

AJ McCarron will also need to continue to develop into a more accurate passer for the Crimson Tide.  McCarron is completing 66.3 percent of his passes but has had problems overthrowing receivers all season.

Starting Linebacker C.J. Moseley was injured last week against Arkansas and will not play against Florida.  According to Coach Saban, he will most likely be replaced by multiple players throughout the game depending on the situation.

The potential for a track meet style football game where the team with the most speed is there, but if Alabama’s defense can play to its potential, the Crimson Tide should have no problem competing with the athletic Gators.

Coverage starts at 7 p.m. CT, and will be televised on CBS.