KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Alabama Coach Nick Saban finally relented, albeit reluctantly. He said college football was officially an offensive game.
“In the past, a good defense beats a good attack. Good defense doesn’t beat a good attack anymore,” Saban told ESPN on Friday. “It’s like last week. Georgia have a good defense like we did the offense, and we scored 41 points for them [in a 41-24 Alabama win]. It wasn’t like that before. It used to be that if you had good defense, other people wouldn’t score. You will always be in the game.
“I told you. It’s not like that anymore.”
And what does Saban, one of the game’s foremost defensive thinkers and architect of some of the more dominant defenses in college football, say?
“I don’t like it,” he said with a wry smile. “But we just have to make sure we have that kind of foul and that explosion, which we have.”
Crimson Tide, rank 2, facing up Tennessee on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, have scored 35 points or more in each of their last 17 games since the start of the 2019 season. They have scored more than 40 points in 13 of those 17 games. Saban noted that the team that won last week in the SEC averaged 33.2 points.
“It’s difficult to train defense now, because there are so many run-pass concepts that everyone does,” said Saban. “I mean, it’s really, really hard to train in the second tier … because you get so many mismatches there.”
While Alabama ranks second nationally in attacking scoring (48.5 points per game) and fifth in total defense (561.3 yards per game), the Tide is 37th in goalscorer defense (28.8 points). per match) and tied for 61st in total defense (458.3 yards per match). game).
“We are not very good in defense, averaging at best, but I think we will get better,” said Saban, adding that to be an elite in defense requires very well in the secondary.
“We’ll go there, but this group [in the secondary] don’t have enough experience. You have to go through the pain of growing up with these guys because they see so many things now in college football. We see something different every week. “
Saban says part of the difficulty in developing elite defensive backs and preparing them early in their careers is that most of the best athletes and attacking skill players are now in middle school and very few play in defense. In fact, Saban said that he worked as a senior recipient DeVonta Smith at the cornerback at pre-season camp to prepare him for emergencies.
“None of these guys’ skills have grown up playing defensively, from junior high, high school or anything,” said Saban. “So all the best athletes end up attacking. One of the best corners in our team is [Smith]. This year at camp, I trained him in the corner. He could protect anyone, and he never played last his whole life because he was on the offensive side. You don’t think Jaylen Waddle would be a good defender? “
Saban, who turns 69 this month, said the fear last week when he initially tested positive for COVID-19 only reinforced how much he enjoyed coaching and being on the pitch with the players.
But anyone who thought he might feel retired when he was isolated at home for those three days might want to think again.
“I do everything I want if I am in the office every day,” said Saban. “I was in meetings with the players at Zoom, zooming in on special team meetings like when I was sitting in my regular chair. I was in defensive meetings, defensive meetings and talking on the phone with the coaches during training. And when practice is over, we will watch. records about defense, offense and special teams. “
Saban joked that his wife, Terry, asked, “Is this what you do every day for 14 hours?”
Later that night, he asked Saban if he wanted to walk to the lake.
“I said, ‘No, I have a meeting in 15 minutes,'” Saban said.
Saban said, the hardest part was waiting for the test results before Georgia game. He needed three consecutive negative PCR tests, as per SEC guidelines, to deem the first test a false positive, which Saban said Friday was an antigen rapid test.
“I just prayed that I could get there,” said Saban. “I would feel bad if the team didn’t play well or if we lost because I wasn’t around, it doesn’t mean we will lose because I wasn’t there, but I would feel that way. The players and coach did a great job not letting go. it affected them for a week. “
Saban has warned the players that this season will be filled with distractions and be prepared for them. But he never imagined he would be one of those distractions.
“I told them, ‘This will be the norm, that every week something will happen. Someone will test positive,” Saban said. So when we had a team meeting on Wednesday after I initially tested positive, I said, ‘You know there must be something definite for me not to be there.’ But I said, ‘This is one of those distractions I’m talking about, and just because it’s me, we’re still going to manage it.’
“Everyone in the building is doing a great job.”
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