Saban evaluates Alabama’s preparation for re-energized Auburn team

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – After the Tennessee game, Alabama’s first loss of the 2022 season, Nick Saban said he believed his team was tight before taking the field at Neyland Stadium.

On his Thursday radio show prior to the Iron Bowl, a caller asked the Crimson Tide head coach how he is preparing his team to face an energized Auburn team that has nothing to lose.

“I think our players have a lot of pride,” Saban said. “I think they want to finish the season. They have an opportunity and they understand that one of the things that is always remembered about your team at Alabama is how you did in the Iron Bowl. I mean, I think that’s something that everybody’s gonna remember. All the former players here, when you talk to them, when they played for Coach Bryant or whoever, it always comes up, how’d they do in the Iron Bowl? And I think our players understand that. We have quite a few players that have been in this game before. They know what a physical, tough game that it is.

“But I think the other thing is I think our players want to win 10 games. I think that maybe our goals and aspiration was to get in the SEC Championship Game, to win the West, see if we can get in the playoffs and all that. But we also have an opportunity to win 10 games, which I think we’ve done for quite a few years. I think they have a lot of pride in that. I think they have a lot of pride in the whole culture of the organization and how you represent it and how they wanna represent it. And it’s a part of their legacy in terms of how they finish the season.”

Saban also gave a brief but positive evaluation of the three days of on-field prep for the Tigers.

“This game is very big to them, and they have been really good at practice this week in terms of their focus, attention to detail, energy level and all that type of stuff,” Saban said. “You’ve gotta keep it up until you get the job done.”

Ranked No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff Top 25, Alabama will look to cap 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 Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and appears to be a motivated group after a midseason coaching change. Saban said Williams has done “a phenomenal job.”

“You look at the competitive character of a team, and I think that is a reflection on how someone is impacting the team,” Saban said. “… Their players are really playing hard. They’re playing good football. They’re playing together as a unit. They have confidence. They believe in each other, and that’s why they’ve won two out of the last three games they’ve played and the one they lost, they lost in overtime.

“They’re playing really well right now, and I think you’ve gotta give Cadillac a lot of credit for that because it’s not an easy situation that he inherited relative to a changing of the guard right in the middle of the season. And to get the players to rally for him in a positive way speaks volumes of the kind of competitive character he has.”

The 87th Iron Bowl will kick off in Tuscaloosa at 2:30 pm CT on CBS on Saturday, Nov. 26.

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Contact Charlie Potter by personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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