"I'll tell my players 'If you want to watch the LSU-Arkansas game, go watch the Auburn film,'" said Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban in his weekly press conference on Monday.
These words held the entirety of the only reference Saban would make about the Crimson Tide's return to the #2 rank and the possibility of a rematch against the only team to beat Alabama on the gridiron in 2011. It was clear that he wanted to focus on the Iron Bowl.
The coach said little about the previous game. He stated that his players learned from the game against Georgia Southern and that the offense did a good job controlling the ball. He took some time to discuss how he felt that the team played terrible in the first half and how Georgia Southern was not a pushover team, as many felt they would be.
"Georgia Southern is a tougher team than everyone thought," said Saban. "It was not just a show-up-and-win game."
After just a few statements, Saban moved on to the Iron Bowl.
"This is one of the greatest rivalries in football. I have a lot of respect for Auburn," said Saban. "…nothing matter but how we play in this game."
Last year's game was the focus of many questions for the coach. The Tide began the game very dominantly, leaving Auburn at a 24 point deficit in the second quarter, but the Tigers rallied and beat Alabama 28-27 in an unprecedented comeback. The game became known for creating off-season motivation for this year's team.
"Some of those disappointments bring people together into a common goal of what they want to accomplish. Some of those disappointments brought the chemistry of the team to what it became, what it is," said Saban on the benefits of disappointment.
Some UA players were heard speaking the mantra "never again" in relation to the 2010 Iron Bowl, a phrase which Saban is unsure of the origin.
"Where did 'never again' come from? Not sure. I do know when. It came from last year's game. Someone just said it. It is what it is," said the coach.
When asked if he second guessed the 2010 Iron Bowl, the coach says he second guesses any loss.
"It went bad. I think it was horrible. Whatever happened, the second half went really bad," said Saban. "We were doing everything we could to win the game. Got to give them credit. They have character for coming back. They have competitive spirit."
As for the 2011 game, the coach is focusing on a few points. Running back Michael Dyer, according the coach, is an outstanding running back and is "as good as anyone they have played." Saban also wants to keep his defense confident an on task.
"Gus (Malzahn) does a good job with his offense. He utilizes the players they have in roles they can be productive in," said Saban. "We've got to get players on guard."
The coach discussed thankfulness for a few moments and how important the concept is.
"Thanksgiving is important time for family and to give thanks and to realize all to be thankful for," said Saban. "It's one of those things more important than football game."
Saban added that all players who lived within a 2-hour travel radius from the school would be allowed to return home for Thanksgiving. All others were invited to eat at the Saban household.
Copyright 2011 WBRC. All rights reserved.