Every week I choose a favorite statement or analogy coined by Saban about some leadership task, goal, or fundamental layer that represents the strength of his team. I post this to my web page weekly on Game Day under "Sabanism's" The Shakespeare of College Football. This week my pick was something he said during his weekly press conference transcript.
“Well, its game week, so it’s time to set sights on someone else. I think the players on the team, who are great competitors, obviously, their energy, their enthusiasm, intensity, sense of urgency realize now is the time to get it done. Next week at this time is too late. And one of the greatest things in sports is that you have a chance to overcome with good preparation is regretting that you didn’t do all the things that you needed to do to prepare well, to play well and that’s certainly what we want to get accomplished this week in practice.
“The identity of this team, obviously this is the first opportunity against a very good team, to sort of establish or start to establish what the identity of this team really is; what the personality of this team is. Each individual player sort of makes the team what it is. The team does not make them what they are and it’s important that we have the kind of competitive character, individually and collectively that will allow us to play with consistency and the kind of toughness and be the kind of relentless, competitive team that makes us a team that no one wants to play, which always our goal in what we try to accomplish as a team, as a program, as an organization
Tonight's game at the Dome marks the second season Chick-fil-A Season Opener in what I hope becomes another celebrated history in Alabama Football. I love the fact that we open with a game that will test and try every level of an athlete. What we will know after the game is.....1. obviously, the winner. That puts an end to all speculation and theories. 2. a measure to determine what your football team has, lacks, etc.
Saban knows what faces them tonight. He has made it clear during the preseason that this game will be one of the toughest mentally and physically. Just this week he stated..."They have a really good secondary. They do a good job of executing their scheme. The one thing I would say about this team is they have toughness, they play with toughness and you are going to have to match that toughness and intensity, if you’re going to have an opportunity to have success against them.”
One thing we know for sure that we do not have to speculate on. Two of the most respected and talented coaches will meet tonight in Georgia. They will bring a team with them that is physically and mentally prepared for four quarters of football. They will set the precedence for the rest of the year. Not just to their year but to the whole football season ahead. For all the talk, the hype, the speculation, the rants, the raves, and all else surrounding this game; come game time it will be left at the door. I expect that you will see two teams who clearly have respect for their own team, coaches, fans, and opponents and they will do what two great programs are taught and expected to do. They will play ball with everything they have. You will see a different level of college football tonight. I would not be surprised if this game is the game that makes it own place in the rich history of college football. I have the highest respect for Frank Beamer and I have as much for his team. They are taught among other things the winning is important but other things must come first. Coach Beamer is one of very few coaches that I would put in the class with Coach "Bear" Bryant and Beamer definitely is a class act an elite individual and coach.
Some key factors that perhaps will make the difference this year.
On to what we know and more foundation to build speculation on.
The Dominant "D"-Last year around the Bama Nation here our slogan was Dominat in 08. So what will the defense be in 09. Chances are the big "d" will be the influencing factor in every game. .
- UA features 14 total returning starters and 55 lettermen this season, but eight of those returning starters are on the defensive side of the football with four on offense and both specialists
-2009 Crimson Tide Defense team is loaded with experienced talent. That is one of the positive attributes of this 2009. with 8 starters returning to defense, a defense that finished 3rd nationally in total defense. Bama allowed just over 263 yards per game last year. Rush defense was overall 2nd in 08 surrendering around 75 yards a game. Although they were 14th in overall pass efficiency their defense returned 85 percent of their tackles from last year.
-A turn of events- Alabama entered into last season with question to their thin linebacker line. This year they enter wondering how they will get playing time for all the "good" linebackers that have been added. An ESPN writer took a look at College Linebackers and gave them a ranking them 1-12 placing Alabama at the top of that list . Also noteworthy, Alabama Linebackers have been deemed by Sporting News as the best in the nation.
-Key Players and those to watch out for. Javier Arenas-preseason favorite and preseason Playboy All-American as a return specialist. He leads the record at Alabama for punt returns average yards per game, season, and touchdowns, and yardage on punt returns in a game. Carries about 13.54 yards per punt and ranks first on Bama's career chart just ahead of the infamous Harry Gilmer. Arenas's six return punt for touchdowns ties the SEC record.
Bama has "FIVE" players earning preseason first team ALL AMERICAN.
-Arenas, Cody, McClain, Johnson, and Jones have all at least one first team designation. McClain coming in with a huge "six" first team designations.
-So can talent to this degree on the defense make up for any shortcomings in the offense. I personally would like to see scores come from all areas. The offense, the Defense, and any special unit that can make or assist in getting points on the board. It's not just the offense game for points now. The competitive advantage comes from all units to score. Forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them is another key. Alabama has one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year. At least three teams inside the top 10.
Now the Offense- O' my
Since it has less returning starters my consensus is reserved on this. With our defense being so strong and certainly a factor in aiding to putting points on the board ....I hope this can open up our offensive game and allow us to attempt more passing for points. We have never really been a factor in competition on our passing game. Ironically, Bama created the passing era. In the early days we had such a strong line that no one could penetrate often. Frustration against the running game turned the page to College Football and the running game became the passing game. We have failed in this area to keep up with the changing times and I think we have to start that now. I am not saying we need a Florida style offense all the time but we need to be able to make those offensive pass plays for points.
We shall see.....all the speculation over this week is minutes away from becoming a fact. This has been a very long off season and I am ready for some "This is ALABAMA FOOTBALL". Roll Tide my friends...
Adversity - handling adversity is the key difference in who we are to what we will become. Success depends on it.