Coach Nick Saban acknowledged that his team played well against Florida and knows that Alabama must improve to stay in championship contention moving forward.
According to Saban, the Crimson Tide must continue to make the proper game plan preparations in order to avoid a letdown game leading up to the Nov. 5 showdown with LSU.
Saban seemed pleased with the way Alabama performed given the tough task of playing a highly touted Florida team at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The offense played well at times against the Gators, but the defense, primarily the secondary, made bad reads and committed mistakes in coverage before finally settling down.
Now Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa for a homecoming game against Vanderbilt. The Commodores (3-1) are a team that the Crimson Tide can’t look past.
“They've got 19 starters back from last year's team. They've already won more games than they won last year and gotten off to a pretty good start… Their defense has been very opportunistic and led the nation in interceptions,” Saban said.
Because of the Commodores' clutch defensive back play, AJ McCarron must be at his very best on Saturday. The Alabama quarterback has done well thus far, passing for 919 yards and four touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions this season.
According to Saban, McCarron continues to work on paying attention to small details in the passing game. But, despite doing a great job of ball protection McCarron continues to have trouble connecting with receivers deep down the field.
McCarron’s success can be partially attributed to the dominance shown by the offensive line. The line's great play continued against a Florida team that possesses one of the nation’s best run stopping defenses.
“We had good protection for the most part. Never gave up sacks or negative plays that way,” Saban said.
Linemen D.J. Fluker, Anthony Steen, William Vlachos, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones have also played a large role in the running game. The line has been able to create an excellent push while maintaining running lanes for backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
The Crimson Tide rushing stable led by Richardson and Lacy has combined to run for 1,149 yards and 17 touchdowns after five games.
Saban was also pleased with the way that the Alabama defense performed against Florida. The defense was successful stopping the powerful Gator rushing attack, while the secondary was able to steadily improve on the way to a 38-10 victory.
While Alabama’s defense has performed well, ranking third nationally in total yards given up per game, the Vanderbilt offense will be more confusing than in years past. The Commodores attack is led by quarterback Larry Smith in a system that’s hard to plan for because of its fast paced playing style.
“They throw a whole lot of screens and bubble passes, and things that complement the running game,” Saban said.
The Crimson Tide defense must stay aware for all four quarters in order to keep the Commodores and their tricky offense from putting up points.
The game against Vanderbilt will be a good indicator of Alabama’s finishing ability. The Crimson Tide must play well in the fourth quarter to avoid the type of late letdowns that occurred last season.
Check out the press conference transcript in its entirety here.