TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team started prep work for Mercer (5-5), with Nick Saban addressing reporters on Monday afternoon.
Here are the highlights of what he said:
• A lot of positives in the Mississippi State game in the way we played hard, our effort eventually paid off. Great perseverance to hang in there. A lot of adversity in the game, some of which we created, but we responded.
• This week, we need to work on fundamentals in execution at every position.
• Guard Ross Pierschbacher out this week, then we’ll see. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is day to day.
• Mercer does a good job of executing. Done a pretty good job all year long.
• You can always grow as a team. It’s always a work in progress.
• Running back Josh Jacobs is an easy guy to create a role for due to his versatility. We need to use him more. Always been a great competitor.
• J.C. Hassenauer played well for Pierschbacher’s spot. He’s also the backup center though, so will have to look at the roles on the line this week.
• Mercer played Auburn tough for three quarters, even though it was early in the season you can learn a lot from it for preparing. This is an opportunity for us to capitalize on efficiency and performance.
• Saban on Miss Terry: “I don’t know why she puts up with me,” but he’s very glad that she does.
• Without Shaun Dion Hamilton did a pretty good job getting everyone lined up, in right place. Still had some breakdowns.
• Priority should always be on taking care of the ball, first. It’s something that we’ve really emphasized and Jalen Hurts really gets that. Turnover ratio is critical and will continue to be.
• Freshmen have provided a lot of depth and filled in admirably. We’re happy with the way those guys have played.
• They ran a lot of tough play-action passes, more than RPOs. They had it on the first play, we didn’t react to it right on the back end. Third downs was a bigger issue.
• We need more guys up front playing with the same attitude as defensive lineman Raekwon Davis.
• Clemson loss is was the kind that you never forget. If that helps guys not want to have that feeling again I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But we want to them to approach what’s coming with the attitude of embracing its opportunity.
• Saban said he’s been pleased with the way the team has responded. “Can you thrive on hard,” has been a theme of late. Everyone can do more, but we want everyone to execute and do their job. That kind of perseverance is important. It comes from your heart.
• On stopping the run: When you have changes, for whatever reason, they all have some impact on what you’re trying to do. Saban mentioned having confidence in what you’re doing, he said that a couple of times today. They ran the ball more than you liked, but they still didn’t average that many yards per carry — they just did it a lot. Goes back to third-down issues. You have to get the off the field. You can’t give them extra possessions.