Alabama coach Nick Saban urged his team to win each individual battle and not get caught up in the hype of Saturday night’s titanic matchup between the No. 4 Crimson Tide and the No. 2 LSU Tigers.
Saban joined the College GameDay set just outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium to discuss the game. Saban told the panel that his team will need to remain focused on the task at hand, despite the game’s championship implications.
“I think the most important thing that your team needs to do in big games like this – LSU has an outstanding team – to be able to stay focused on executing on the field and not get involved in all the hype outside the game,” Saban said. “Win your individual battle, win the one-on-one battles, execute and do your job together as a group gives you the best shot to be successful in games like this.”
One of Alabama’s best units on either side of the ball has been the front seven. Saban said his unit’s diversity in skill set allows ‘Bama to stuff the run and get to opposing quarterbacks in the passing game.
“I think the thing that makes our front seven a little better than what we’ve had before, we have more diversity in players,” Saban said. “We have some big power guys that play against the run, but we also can put some guys in on third down that can pressure the passer and we’ve affected most quarterbacks that we’ve played which is a key to getting off the field on third down and playing better pass defense.”
Alabama’s best weapon in the passing game has been freshman Calvin Ridley. The youngster has caught 45 passes for 525 yards and three touchdowns in his debut campaign. Saban said Ridley has done a great job of stepping up when his team needed him to ascend his role within the offense.
“Being a freshman, we didn’t think his role would be quite as big,” Saban said. “But when we lost Robert Foster early in the season, it’s (sic) allowed Calvin Ridley now to be a starter and he has responded very very well to making some great catches and some big plays. He’s a pretty talented guy and it’s certainly good for our team that he has matured nicely as a freshman.”
Desmond Howard asked Saban about Alabama’s lone loss of the season to Ole Miss at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Howard asked Saban what his team had to do to avoid another letdown on its home field. Saban said his players will need to keep their emotions in check and limit the turnovers.
“It was uncharacteristic for our team because we were extremely emotional for that game,” Saban said. “And when we went out, we played out of sorts. We didn’t stay within ourselves and stay focused on the things we needed to do. Anytime you have five turnovers in a game, it’s going to be hard to beat anybody.”