clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jumbo Package: Nick Saban says that keeping players focused was a struggle in 2022

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Alabama is ticketed for New Orleans on New Year’s Day, and Nick Saban spoke about the disappointment of missing the playoff.

Alabama suffered two road losses by a combined four points that derailed its championship hopes, along with Young dealing with a shoulder injury in the middle of the year that kept him from practicing.

“We probably have to do a much better job of making sure you have great relationships with all your players,” Saban said of what he learned this season. “I think it’s more difficult in the landscape of college football to be able to keep people focused because there’s a lot of external factors that can affect them. You want them to be able to stay focused on the task at hand. That’s what they control, and that’s what really builds value for them and their future. I think that’s the No. 1 thing we would like to do a better job of in the future.”

The external factors of fan expectations, high rankings and large point spreads have been a part of this program for many years, but Saban seems to be speaking of something new. Only thing I can think of is agents/handlers/uncles in their ears pushing them to build their NIL values with individual highlights. That is purely speculative, but it’s concerning to hear Nick say that he wasn’t happy with the connection he had with the team.

This probably won’t surprise anyone.

Kansas State coach Chris Klieman is excited for the opportunity to face Alabama.

“Nobody knows what’s going on, what representation are talking to guys, what will happen,” he said. “I think that’s going to play itself out over the next three weeks. And so everybody will – we’ll know probably by that game week or ten days before who’s going to play.

“But that’s the nature of college football right now. And whether or not a guy is going to go and prepare for the draft and not risk the injury, those are all personal decisions that everybody has. And we’ll take those on our team as they come as well, just like, you know, Coach will do with his team. And that’s just – that’s where we’re at in college football right now.”

This is going to be a tough game as the point spread suggests, especially since we expect to see some significant players opt out.

We now have seven players in the transfer portal, including three offensive linemen.

Cohen becomes the seventh Alabama player to enter the transfer portal since mid-November and the third offensive lineman, joining reserves Damieon George and Tanner Bowles.

The Central High School graduate first committed to Auburn before flipping his commitment to Alabama. He notably embraced the state’s rivalry after the 2021 Iron Bowl when he struck the “Crimson Crane” pose for a social media post outside of a Tigers bowl practice in Hoover.

“The history in this rivalry is something that’s gonna continue to carry on whether I’m here or gone,” Cohen said last month.

Alabama will undoubtedly do a little shopping in the portal as well, and for whatever reason UNC QB Drake Maye has been persistently rumored to be heading to Tuscaloosa. Tar Heels coach Mack Brown doesn’t see it.

“I don’t think Drake will go anywhere because he’s a Carolina family,” Brown said at a news conference before Saturday’s ACC championship game between Clemson and North Carolina.

However, Brown said he had yet to have conversations with his players about their future plans.

“This game is really important to us, so our coaches have been hesitant to say, ‘Hey Ross, are you leaving, man? I know you’ve got to play Saturday night, but are you out of here? Are you going to play or are you going to stay?” Brown said. “So we’ll have some guys playing tomorrow night that will probably be leaving on Monday, and that discussion will either come Sunday or Monday morning.”

The coaching staff is likely to see some turnover as well. SB Nation’s New England Patriots site, Pats Pulpit, wrote about OC Bill O’Brien because much of the Pats fanbase, who may be the only group on the planet that can rival Alabama fans with their sense of entitlement, have been clamoring for him to come run their putrid offense all season. This writer gets it, as does Bill Belichick.

New England’s offense, as noted above, has had a hard time recently and has been one of the least productive in the league since Mac Jones’ return from injury in Week 7. A lot of the blame, rightfully so, falls on the aforementioned Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

Ultimately, though, everything falls back on their superior — in this case, head coach Bill Belichick. He said so himself earlier this season.

“We have a lot of people on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, everybody contributes,” he told reporters in September. “Ultimately, I have responsibility for everything that happens on the field. In the end, I’ll take responsibility for that.”

Mad about the offense? Focus your ire on the head coach. Belichick is every bit the micromanager of the gameplan that Saban is and assistants are just what the title implies. Both men have won titles, and not won titles. with a revolving door of randomness at the coordinator positions. Odds are that O’Brien will head back to the NFL this offseason, and Saban will probably hire another name out of left field that will piss a bunch of people off. That is, until they win a national title and he becomes a hero, or they don’t and he gets fired into the sun by people who are #madonline about it and knew at the time that it was a bad hire.

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

You have likely heard that Deion Sanders took the Colorado job, and rumor has it that he’s going to pull safeties coach Charles Kelly from Alabama to run the defense.

Multiple sources this weekend told FootballScoop that University of Alabama assistant defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, who coaches the Tide’s safeties on Nick Saban’s staff, intends to join Sanders’s Colorado staff in a top-level, coordinator role.

Though Kelly never has worked directly with Sanders, he coached at Florida State – Coach Prime’s alma mater – for five seasons with Jimbo Fisher, the last four of them as Fisher’s defensive coordinator for the Seminoles. It was at FSU that Kelly worked alongside Tim Brewster for all five of their seasons in Tallahassee, Florida.

So, why did Deion take that Power Five opportunity? I’ll let him answer with this masterpiece that, despite watching and rooting hard for him as a young Atlanta Falcons fan, I never knew existed.

In NFL news, Tua Tagovailoa had perhaps his worst game of the season in a road loss to the San Francisco 49ers and their elite defense. More importantly, he tweaked an ankle but fortunately doesn’t think it’s serious. Tua saw his streak of passes thrown without an interception snapped at 193.

Elsewhere, there were lessons that the 2022 Alabama team could learn from watching some of their predecessors, starting with Najee Harris who abused the Falcons for 86 tough yards on 17 carries in a road win.

That almost looks like, dare I say, a hateful competitor. Minkah Fitzpatrick finished off the Falcons with a late interception to snuff out a desperation drive before it started.

Speaking of competitors, Josh Jacobs was highly questionable all week due to a calf injury, but ultimately answered the bell and ended up running for 144 yards. Chargers WR Keenan Allen said during the week that he was going to make BBQ chicken out of the Raiders’ secondary, and Josh seemed to take that personally.

Brian Robinson ran for 96 yards as the Washington Commanders kissed their sister vs. the New York Giants yesterday, and the locals seem impressed with his toughness.

Last but not least, Jalen Hurts continues to light up the NFL. This week he shredded a good Titans team for 380 yards and three scores, while barely using his legs, as the Eagles took Derrick Henry completely out of the game script with a 35-10 thrashing. While AJ Brown is unquestionably the top receiver in Philly, Smitty got in on the action as well.

Something tells me that the Eagles are happy that the rumored swap of Hurts for Deshaun Watson never came to fruition. The pervert Watson made his season debut yesterday in Houston and, while the Browns got three touchdowns from the defense and special teams to beat the sorry Texans by 13 points, he threw for only 131 yards on 22 attempts.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.