TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Much of Nick Saban’s weekly radio show on Thursday was spent sharing war stories with CBS play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist.
Both titans in their respective professions, Saban and Lundquist showed a genuine level of respect for what the other had done in their careers.
But as he often does, Saban found a way to get a message across while turning the conversation back toward the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s upcoming showdown with No. 6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC). Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
“This is going to be sort of one of those season-defining games,” Saban said. “We have three or four of these each year. This game with A&M will certainly be that this week.”
Saban went on to praise the Aggies for the improvement they’ve made each year under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Saban said quarterback Trevor Knight has made the Aggies a “really dynamic offensive team” because he allows them to take advantage of all of their skill players. Knight has thrown for 1,500 yards and 9 touchdowns to 5 interceptions.
Knight has also rushed for 502 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Defensively, Saban noted Texas A&M’s talent and the scheme of coordinator John Chavis as reasons why the Aggies are currently undefeated.
“This is a complete team,” Saban said. “This is going to be the biggest challenge that we’ve had to this point this season.”
From there, Saban raised his voice.
Talk of Alabama being the best team in the country has gotten louder. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts is being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Those factors and many more add up to what Saban calls clutter.
“I wish some kind of way we could shut off all the noise out there to our players about how good they are and ESPN and national championship game and all this ‘BS’ and just focus on what’s happening now,” Saban said. “I always say, ‘So what? What’s next?’ Well, it ain’t about what’s next, it’s about so what.
“What’s happening right now in terms of where your mind is, where your focus is?”
Saban continued on about how the players need to be locked in to this game, and pay close attention to detail. He wants Alabama’s players to prove they can maintain a certain standard each week.
Saban believes every sporting event has a breaking point. While everyone wants to win at the start of the game, Saban believes teams have to do whatever it takes to get that point. That’s especially important this week in Saban’s eyes.
“When you play really good teams, you have to do it for a lot longer,” Saban said. “I think we’re going to have to do it for a complete game this week.”