"You know, there's a tremendous balance between humility and confidence," Saban began, glancing at notes. "And this game is a struggle. It's a struggle every day. And you've got to embrace it every day. "And you've got to go out there and try to earn it every day, to be as good a player as you can be. You've got to have a tremendous amount of character, confidence, mental and physical toughness. You've got to be driven to be the best. And you've got to be able to handle success."
"Successful teams are willing to do what unsuccessful teams aren't," Saban said. "That's what we need to prove, that we are ready to do in terms of how we go about each week, each game that we play and each challenge that we have." In other words, no slackers allowed. Which is only one reason why the Crimson Tide is going to be the big elephant lingering around the top of the college football world for a while.
Those who saw Robert Lester play in person understood. It took flocking to watch his star teammate for coaches to realize what they couldn't see on his film. It took them watching Jones and Lester practice against one another to understand that the battle wasn't one-sided. The safety on the other side of the ball could play, too. "It was fun to watch," Watson said. "Sometimes practice would shut down just to watch those kids. When they got to competing, when they got to picking on each other, people wanted to see what was coming next." Lester didn't have the measureables -- he wasn't the fastest, clocking a 4.59 40-yard dash, nor was he the most athletic. On paper, Jones was supposed to demolish safeties like him, beating them with his other-worldly blend of speed and strength. He toyed with every other defender in the country, but Lester was his match. "The thing about Robert is he would step up and challenge Julio in practice," Watson said. "They would go against each other in one-on-ones, in drill work, so they pushed each other and made each other better. "That caught the attention of college scouts. They would come down to look at Julio and say, 'Wait a minute. Who's this Lester kid?' "
"I thought the offensive line did a really, really good job creating movement up front, getting a hat on a hat and doing it on a pretty consistent basis, in terms of our ability to run the ball," Saban said. "In the pass game, we’ve got to do a better job of firming up the pocket. The quarterback has got to feel comfortable and confident in his protection, keep his eyes where they’re supposed to be down the field, so that we can take advantage of some opportunities that we have there, as well. "That’s something that, as an entire unit, we need to continue to work on."
"We are certainly looking forward to our home opener in Bryant-Denny Stadium. We had a great crowd and great venue this past weekend. It was great for our fans. We certainly enjoyed participating in that game, but even more we are looking forward to playing at home. I think all of our players love playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium and love the great atmosphere that we have there, so I know that the players are looking forward to that. I know that you all don't think Western Kentucky is very good, but they've won eight out of their last nine games, and they are probably one of the better teams in the Sun Belt this year, maybe the Sun Belt champs eventually."
Alabama safety Robert Lester didn't know what him. Neither did nose guard Jesse Williams. Turns out, it was each other. Both Lester and Williams missed most of the second half of Saturday's 41-14 rout against Michigan because of their respective injuries. Lester had a stinger in his shoulder and Williams had a mild concussion. You can probably connect the dots from here. Williams' head hit Lester's shoulder. "I mean, we got the same colors on," Lester said today with a smile. "Kind of hard to mistake yellow and blue for crimson and white."
Quick: Take a guess which team on the University of Alabama's schedule has the biggest linebacker the Crimson Tide will face this season. LSU? Tennessee? Try Western Kentucky, which visits Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday at 2:30 p.m. UA coach Nick Saban has taken notice of Andrew Jackson, the Hilltoppers' 265-pound middle linebacker who led his team in tackles last season. "I think he's a really good player. He's a thumper, he's very instinctive," Saban said. "He really plays the run well and is very physical. He can take on blockers, he's a really good tackler. I think he's an SEC player, no doubt."
Shining stars: Alabama: CB Dee Milliner, the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, was all over the field in the Crimson Tide's season-opening 41-14 win over Michigan. He had five tackles, four pass deflections and an interception that he ran back 35 yards. WKU would be smart to avoid his side of the field. Western Kentucky: QB Kawaun Jakes is one of the most prolific passers in school history with over 5,000 career yards through the air. He completed 18 of 23 attempts for 296 yards and four touchdowns in the Hilltoppers' 49-10 win over Austin Peay last week.
"I hate to be negative with anybody, but when you people start writing stuff about people that we're playing that doesn't give them the proper respect, that’s not fair," Saban Wednesday. "It's not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It’s not fair to our players, who need to respect them. "And to make presumptions like you all make really, really upsets me. It really does. It’s so unfair. You don’t need to write about that. There are so many more good things you can write about happening around here that people would be interested in. I’d love to see some of you do a little bit of research and figure it out. It would really do my heart good."
Safety Robert Lester was the latest to dole out high praise for Western Kentucky. - "Very intelligent offense. Run a lot of shifts and motions and you gotta be on your P’s and Q’s to be ready for it. You don’t want to be hesitant in the secondary not knowing what you're going to or what you're about to go to you know, formation to boundaries, so I mean they do a lot of things to get our guys out of position."
Engel references an incident after Saturday's win over Michigan in which Saban referred to Jalston Fowler by his nickname "Nudie" because he has "a hard time remembering all the players' names." Engels says that while Saban's status as a boss to his players, rather than a father or mentor, is what makes him an admirably honest figure in college football. (ed.- he doesn't know their names, but he knows them well enough to refer to them by their childhood nicknames?)
Here's what sets Saban apart. He had the courage of his convictions to develop and sell what he now calls The Process before anyone knew who he was. He believed in something big and that led him to swing hard. I don't live in Saban's head, so I don't know what was happening in his mind. But for most people, swinging that hard raises a few fears
Nick Saban, asked about Taggart's comments on Wednesday's SEC teleconference, sidestepped the query as deftly as T.J. Yeldon dodges a tackler. "I know he does a lot of NFL stuff that we're trying to get our college players to learn how to play," Saban said. "Our guys go to school like everybody else, try to do the right thing like everybody else. We're trying to get our players better, probably like everybody else does." Of course, the last thing Saban wants to do is give anyone - least of all his own players - the idea that Alabama has such overwhelming talent that it can win without maximum effort. The fact is that Alabama and LSU and Southern Cal do have lots of talent, and maybe if you combined the three rosters you would have a strong future NFL squad, although one wonders if Saban would survive long - literally - as co-coach with Les Miles and Lane Kiffin.
Jim McElwain was part of the Crimson Tide staff that was already working on recruiting and all the components that were to go into the following season. It’s the way head coach Nick Saban goes about business. So when McElwain was hired to turn around Colorado State after last season, part of Saban came with him to Fort Collins. "You don’t let any detail get loose," McElwain said. Those details will be on display when North Dakota State plays at CSU on Saturday night. Those details will be tested because the Rams are coming off a highly-charged rivalry win over the University of Colorado last Saturday. The head coach heard from a lot of folks who knew the significance of the victory. "But they also know I probably wasn’t enjoying it because I was breaking down North Dakota State and just never take time to reflect on a win," McElwain said. "The issue now becomes, can you go off and tear off the rearview mirror and not be satisfied? I’ve had this game circled on the calendar since I saw the schedule. They’re a national championship team that knows how to win."
Es algo que tenía marcado en rojo como prioritario en mi calendario personal desde el mismo día (hace exactamente dos años) que ambas instituciones, la academia militar de Navy y la propia Universidad de Notre Dame, anunciaran este clásico de la isla Esmeralda en la ciudad irlandesa de Dublín. Con las conexiones aéreas de low-cost que disponemos estos días sobre cualquier principal capital europea, perder una oportunidad así, de ver en persona a los legendarios y pintorescos Fighting Irish frente a sus propias raíces y herencia, sería algo que probablemente jamás me perdonara. Por muy fan de Alabama que uno pueda ser.