Alabama coach Nick Saban admitted that his team hasn’t been able to finish the past two years, but he wants to ensure that doesn’t plague Alabama in the Iron Bowl again Saturday.
Doing so requires the ability to remain focused, Saban told ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday morning.
“The No. 1 thing is that that the players need to understand the level of energy that goes into a game like this and you have to anticipate that and don’t let it take you by surprise,” Saban said. “The second thing is you have to be able to stay focused on what you need to do on the field, and at some point and time in this game you are going to have to be able to overcome adversity because everything is not going to go your way. How you respond to those things and play the next play is really important to being consistent, which is really important in a game like this.”
Auburn is one of the final hurdles standing in the way of Alabama and a second consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff.
At 6-5, Auburn is not the same many preseason prognostications expected it to be. But Saban refuses to look past his in-state rivals.
Saban has seen improvements in numerous areas over the past few games. Auburn has won two of its past three, and don’t think Alabama’s coach hasn’t noticed.
“No. 1, I think they are playing better on defense so it’s going to be important for us to control the line of scrimmage when we have the ball,” Saban said. “Secondly, they have always been able to run the ball effectively. They’ve run the ball effectively this year. When they have been able to make some explosive plays with play-action passes that has made them a very dangerous, effective offensive team and they’ve scored a lot of points in those circumstances. The three things that are important in the game are control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, obviously explosive plays were a big part of the game last year on both sides for both teams and turnovers. So those three things are going to be a real key for us.”
The Tide have won eight games in a row since falling to Ole Miss at home on Sept. 19, but Saban said playing consistently is the biggest thing his team needs to focus on.
“Consistency has always been the issue with our team — to be able to play at a high level at a consistent basis,” Saban explained. “In this day and age, it doesn’t really matter what you did last week. You are only as good as your last play, only as good as your last game so how you play this week is the most important thing.”