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Nick Saban Is A Smart Man... And He Knows It.


I'm sure many of you have already seen the segment Coach Saban did yesterday on ESPN where he breaks down three plays from the BCS Championship game. I found the five minute discussion to be insightful and teeming with football wisdom.

If you have seen the video and were were confused by Saban's coach speak you may want to take a look at Smart Football's explanation and translation. When I do film break downs here I try and avoid using too many technical terms but Smart Football does an excellent job at keeping it simple and easily digestible.

I'll let Smart Football handle the Saban to English translation but I did want to add my two cents.

— Saban really is a short, little, powerful man and Jesse Palmer is a complete tool.

— ESPN did a horrible job on this segment, at least from a production standpoint. The producers rushed it and it was obvious Saban, Palmer and that other guy wanted more time. But I at least give them (ESPN) credit for going against he norm by trying to talk actual football.

— It was obvious Saban was really enjoying himself and even said it was the best interview of the day at the very end. He likes to talk X's and O's and also loves letting people know just how much smarter he is than everyone else. Media types take notice, cause when you aren't asking him about the SEC's unfair scheduling practices, you actually get a pleasant, non-annoyed Saban...

— CNS didn't seem all that impressed with the Notre Dame coaching staff and to me it was obvious he felt that was their biggest weakness. He noted that the defense "Wasn't real sound in coverage" and explained in detail how tough of an assignment Te'o had on the goal line situation. It may come across that Saban is bagging on Te'o but I view it as our staff finding deficiencies with the Notre Dame staff, not the particular players.

— This led me to think that reason we beat Notre Dame like a drum, wasn't due to the missed tackles or that we had better players but because our coaching staff was just that much better.

— The discussion about the Play Action fake just shows how even the minute detail can affect the game and Saban lives in the details. On the goal line play, if AJ doesn't sell the fake well, T'eo is able to cover Williams. However, AJ sells it so well T'eo, due to the run/ pass conflict, must first follow the run, then the pass. Saban puts the blame on the defensive coordinator when he says, "They don't have anybody at the end of the line - they don't have a defensive back over there to cover - the linebacker has to scrape on flow".

So, our staff saw a tendency, knew how Notre Dame would line up against that offensive formation, and subsequently knew exactly how to attack it. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

— Saban's comments about Ha Ha's maturity is not necessarily breaking news but encouraging nonetheless. This is a defense that doesn't have the big names like Dee Milliner, Mark Barron or Dre Kirkpatrick, but this may be the most experienced back seven Saban has had outside of 2011 or 2009. Virtually every starter, outside of the possibility of Landon Collins, has meaningful game time experience.

— When the guy said he was going to "Put up the Alabama offensive depth chart" I was honestly afraid for his life.

— The "I like, sort of, how that (the O-line) is progressing" comment could be taken two ways and I prefer to stay on the positive side. Saban is smart enough to avoid talking negatively about his team on live T.V. but he seemed awfully positive about the unit as a whole. I feel he would have avoided the comment all together if he had huge concerns. Hope for the best.

— He's kind of "encouraged by the leadership, experience and the skill players and the weapons we have on this offense"? We are either loaded for bear or Saban took the happy pill before walking on stage.

Final Thought

In the age of hurry up offenses that want to exploit a player's endurance and conditioning it is refreshing to hear a coach talk about tendencies and match-ups. I understand every offensive coach wants to take advantage of weaknesses but Alabama seems to do that better than anyone else.

'Bama isn't a ground and pound, man blocking team that plays three yards and cloud of dust football. There are nuances to our offense and defense that may seem simple but are actually calculated and incredibly efficient. Smart Football put it perfectly when speaking about our defense:

In other words, Saban thinks of his defense as a single interconnected unit. He cites all of those factors - the inside pressure, Milliner's coverage, Clinton-Dix's read of where the quarterback was going to throw - as not only important but necessary factors for the interception to happen. Saban coaches some talented players, but what makes Alabama so lethal is how all of it - talent, technique and scheme - all fits together.

Roll Tide, y'all.