Alabama football aims to bounce back Saturday with the No. 5 Crimson Tide (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at Mississippi State for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff. The Week 7 game for Alabama follows a 41-38 loss in last Saturday at Texas A&M. Turning the page from Week 6 and entering the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1), ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit shared a one-word message for the Tide.
“Simplify,” Herbstreit said Saturday morning on SportsCenter. “They looked like a very confused team last (week). Again, when you play a physically dominant team in college football, you can’t just line up and play football. You’ve got to do a lot of different things with your formations, your personnel groupings and your motions.
“And (Texas) A&M did a heck of a job of confusing Alabama’s defense. Alabama, many times, on their heels looking at each other, kind of shrugging their shoulders, confused with the looks. I think they had too much maybe in the plan. … Busted coverage, getting beat up front at the line of scrimmage.
“I wouldn’t be surprised — now they’re going up against Mike Leach. Simplify the plan, get back to letting your players understand what they’re doing, play fast and avoid all the busts that they had a week ago. But to me, give Jimbo Fisher all the credit for knowing Nick Saban’s system and coming up with those looks to create that confusion.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was honest this week when he addressed his team’s standard.
“I’ve always got competitive fire because I respect what it takes to win,” Saban said. “I respect what it takes to prepare to win. And I try to do it every week, and I try to get the players to respond to it each and every week so that they have the best chance to create value for themselves and they go out and play. And when players don’t play well, they don’t create value for themselves and they don’t create value for the team.
“And we made too many mental errors, didn’t tackle well early in the game. And I think all that starts with your mindset in terms of the intensity that you have, the focus that you need to be able to go out there and compete against good players in tough environments. That’s as difficult a competitive environment as you’re going to be in. What defines great competitors is people who can be their best when their best is needed. I think people evaluate that and look at that. That’s something that I’m always trying to help the players have the best opportunity to do. Now, I have pride in performance, too. Not just for the defense but for our whole team, and it’s very upsetting to me when the defense doesn’t play well because I feel like it’s my responsibility and I should be affecting people.
“I’m talking about players and coaches and everybody in the organization in a way that our team is well prepared so that they can go out there and play well. I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to that, and it’s really, really tough when you don’t feel like you got things done the way you like for them to be done.”