The Crimson Tide just beat their rivals the Tennessee Volunteers 44-13 on Saturday. If you're head coach Nick Saban, what do you do?
Fix the explosion plays.
No, you certainly don't sit around and celebrate. You get your team back to Tuscaloosa and prepare for the next contest, Mississippi State. The undefeated Bulldogs come to town and with their tough, physical brand of football now is no time to rest on your laurels.
Nick Saban is a perfectionist, and after beating Tennessee into the ground there are still moments worth losing sleep over. Sure, the two interceptions against Tyler Bray were nice, as were the 500 total yards of offense. The run defense played well and the team was running like the well-oiled machine we've all come to expect.
But, the explosion plays can be a killer in a game that is decided by fewer than the 31 point differential in Knoxville. Explosion plays can sink teams. While the Tide only gave up three true explosion plays, Justin Hunter's drop on a sure touchdown was most certainly eyebrow raising as well.
Cordarrelle Patterson gashed the Tide on a long pass play. Tight end Mychal Rivera got loose downfield for a big gainer, and the aforementioned Hunter was able to grab a 44-yard reception in addition to the touchdown he dropped.
If you're Nick Saban, moments like these are what keep you up at night. This is the film that you run back time and again, looking to fix the lapses in the defense. More importantly, these are the moments that you have to correct as you inch closer to the promised land, that big game in Miami.
No, Mississippi State does not have a Tyler Bray in the pocket slinging it around. Certainly, LSU's Zach Mettenberger doesn't appear capable of completing passes for long scores.
However, as we've seen time and again in the football world, all it takes is one play. And in a contest that will be tighter than this game against a defenseless Tennessee squad; that one play could be the difference between winning and losing.
So expect Nick Saban to continue to preach assignment football. Expect him to make sure his defensive backs are in their proper spots in coverage. Expect tight ends to get jammed and wide receivers to be rerouted.
Nick Saban's 2012 masterpiece is nowhere near being done. There are still plenty of games left to be played and a championship to be won. He's going to sit at the canvas and make sure he gets it right; because mistakes, like tonight's explosion plays, have no place in his plan.
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