Nick Saban Says No. 1 Alabama Had 'a Lot of Mental Errors' in Win vs. No. 11 Florida

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 19, 2021

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts to his defense after giving up a touchdown to the Mercer Bears during the second half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

All that stood between No. 1 Alabama's 31-29 win over No. 11 Florida on Saturday and a potential loss was a missed extra point by the Gators and a failed two-point conversion.

And after the contest, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was not thrilled with his defense, which struggled to stop the Gators offense after Alabama raced out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter.

"What concerned me most is we could not maintain our intensity, especially on defense," he told reporters. "We had a lot of mental errors."

The Gators put up 440 yards of total offense and 245 yards on the ground (5.7 yards per carry), finishing 5-of-12 on third downs and 1-of-2 on fourth. Florida scored touchdowns on three straight drives in the second half.

"All in all it was just our execution on defense and the fact that we didn't get off the field on third down," Saban said.

Give the Gators credit—they weren't intimidated by the defending national champs.

"One thing a lot of teams do is play Alabama, they sometimes don't think they're going to win the game maybe," Florida head coach Dan Mullen told reporters. "Our guys certainly expected to win the game and played that way. We did last year. We did this year. I think that's maybe a big part of it."

Despite Saban's displeasure with his defense, beating a very good Florida team on the road was no small feat, and he acknowledged as much, calling it an "outstanding win" while noting that The Swamp is "a tough environment to play" and praising his team's "resiliency."

"Crazy atmosphere," Florida quarterback Bryce Young added. "Those fans were really loud. We knew it was going to be a hostile environment coming in and they lived up to it for sure."

Granted, Saban hasn't had too much trouble with Florida in recent memory:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

No.1 Alabama survives in its visit to The Swamp.<br><br>- 8 straight wins vs the Gators<br>- 32 straight wins vs SEC East opp.<br>- 112 straight wins when leading by 18+<br>- Nick Saban remains unbeaten against Dan Mullen (11-0) <a href="https://t.co/etGGGGEn4K">pic.twitter.com/etGGGGEn4K</a>

He'll take the tough win. But he wants more from the Crimson Tide.

"We've got a lot of good players," he said after the game. "We've just got to get them to play a little better."