The Alabama Crimson Tide have a lot of time on their hands. It seems like the weeks are endless when preparing for the national championship. This can create challenges for head coach Nick Saban, as you have to approach things the right way to make sure your players are fully prepared.
Talking to the guys too much could make the players nervous and could soon wear off. There is nothing worse than hearing somebody nag for a month straight about something, even if that includes a national championship appearance.
On the other side, not speaking enough could also backfire because you could have forgotten to mention something in the process.
The trick is to finding a healthy balance during this insane amount of time off. You don't want to overload players with a bunch of useless information, but you also want to remind guys that this is a game that could change their lives forever.
Don’t get caught slacking, but don’t kill yourself in the process.
Saban has had a little over two weeks with his guys already, and will have a few more before the big game takes place against Notre Dame.
Here are some of the main points he will want to continue to preach to his players.
Don't Believe the Hype
Throughout this month, Alabama players will hear how great they are. There is no way the Crimson Tide is going to lose to Notre Dame, as the talent and the coaching are on another planet compared to the Irish. The Wile E. Coyote would have a better chance of catching the Road Runner before Alabama loses this game.
Not so fast.
Notre Dame is here because it ran the table throughout the regular season, something Alabama wasn't able to do. Sure, we can pick on the schedule all we would like, but an undefeated season is still an undefeated season. The Irish deserve as much respect as any SEC team on the schedule and should not be taken lightly in any shape or form.
It is important that Saban drills this into his player’s brain, as young football players often get sucked into the media hype and begin feeling that they are better than they are. Remember, the Crimson Tide needed help from other teams just to reach this big game. If anything, they should be the underdogs heading into this matchup.
Now there is also no reason to sugarcoat things like John Calipari does with his Kentucky Wildcats. We all know Alabama is a terrific team and deserves to be playing on the big stage. Telling a bunch of future NFL players that they aren't that good isn't really going to sink in.
However, reminding them of what happened against Texas A&M might put that chip back on their shoulders. Letting them know what happened in 2010 after winning the 2009 national championship could do the trick. Popping in a tape of The Greatest Game Ever Played every Saturday would show that anything can happen in the sports world.
It could also provide the inspiration to not take the Irish lightly.
Saban must do anything he can to bring his team back down to ground level and get his players focused on the task at hand. Just because you are the overwhelming favorite does not mean a victory is guaranteed.
You still have to take the field and play well in order to win. And in order to do that, you must have your head in the game and not think you are better than you actually are.
Act Like You Have Been Here Before
Besides a handful of true freshmen such as Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon, every player on this roster was on last year’s national championship squad. Some may be playing bigger roles on the team than a year ago, but everybody should know what to expect in this type of atmosphere.
Having championship experience over the other team is a nice advantage to have, but it is only effective if you use it wisely.
Players should act like they have been here before and stick to their normal routine that has gotten them this far. The hype that comes with the national championship may make you feel that this game is bigger than the rest, and in a way it is, but it is still a football game with the same rules and the object also remains the same.
Don't go around changing your routine that you stuck with throughout the year. Although there is a ridiculous amount of time before the players' next game, this is still a football matchup that is played between two teams, on a field that is still 100 yards. The only difference is that a team will receive a trophy when the clock hits zero.
If you spend a certain amount of time watching film during the week, stick to that time limit. If you are one of those guys that spend certain days with your girlfriend, continue to show her that quality time throughout the week. If you have a certain exercise schedule, we better see you running laps and lifting weights like clockwork.
Don't switch things up because there is more time available between this game.
It is not really being a superstitious person when sticking to routine; it has more to do with preparing your mind that this is just a normal game like the other 13 that have been played.
Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for a big game will give each player on the Alabama squad an advantage over the guys for Notre Dame.