Saban assesses Alabama’s preparation for a rebuilt Auburn team
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – After the Tennessee game, Alabama’s first loss of the 2022 season, Nick Saban said he thought his team was tense before taking the field at Neyland Stadium.
On Thursday’s pre-Iron Bowl radio show, a caller asked the Crimson Tide head coach how he prepares his team to face a tight Auburn team with nothing to lose.
“I think our players have a lot of pride,” Saban said. “I think they want to finish the season. They have the opportunity and they understand that one of the things that will always be remembered about your Alabama team is how you performed in the Iron Bowl. I mean, I think that’s what everybody will remember. All the former players here, when you talk to them, when they played for Coach Bryant or whoever, the question that always comes up is how did they do in the Iron Bowl? And I think our players understand that. We have quite a few players who have been in this game before. They know what a physical, tough game it is.
“But I think the other thing is I think our players want to win 10 games. I think maybe our goals and our desire was to get to the SEC Championship game, win the West, see if we could make the playoffs and all that. But we also have the ability to win 10 games, which I think we’ve done in quite a few years. I think they are very proud of it. I think they are very proud of the whole culture of the organization and how you represent it and how they want to represent it. And that’s part of their legacy in terms of how they finish the season.”
Saban also gave a brief but positive assessment of the Tigers’ three days of preparation on the field.
“This game is very important to them and they practiced very well this week in terms of their focus, attention to detail, energy level and all that type of thing,” Saban said. “You have to keep going until you get the job done.”
Ranked No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff Top 25, Alabama will look to close out the regular season with a win over its in-state rival. But Auburn (5-6, 2-5 SEC) has won its last two games under interim head coach Cornell “Cadillac” Williams and appears to be a motivated group after a midseason coaching change. Saban said Williams did a “phenomenal job.”
“You look at the competitive nature of the team, and I think that’s a reflection of how someone impacts the team,” Saban said. “… Their players play very hard. They play good football. They play together as one. They have confidence. They believe in each other and that’s why they’ve won two of the last three games they’ve played and lost one in overtime.
“They’re playing really well right now and I think you have to give Cadillac a lot of credit for that because it’s not an easy situation that he’s inherited compared to a changing of the guard right in the middle of the season. And to get the players to rally behind him in a positive way speaks to what a competitive nature he has.”
The 87th Iron Bowl will kick off in Tuscaloosa at 2:30 p.m. ET on CBS on Saturday, November 26.
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