TUSCALOOSA — You want to talk about practice? Nick Saban wants to talk about practice.
The Alabama football coach especially wants to talk about practice this week.
As the Crimson Tide enters Saturday’s home game against Florida Atlantic as a 50-point favorite, Saban wants to talk about practice and how he wants his players paying attention to it. Just two weeks ago, Alabama went through what Saban called a sloppy week of practice before facing 41-point underdog Western Kentucky.
As a result, Alabama slogged through a sloppy 35-0 win, and Saban complained afterward the players didn’t understand they needed to work to improve each and every week.
So, getting a good week of practice is at the top of Saban’s to-do list.
“You guys ask me about practice,” Saban said to reporters at his regular Monday news conference. “Let me just tell you about practice. Guys don’t do different things in the games than they do in practice. Almost everything that we messed up, we messed up in practice.
“Almost everything guys do well in the game, they did well in practice. So the guy makes good runs in practice, and he made a few good runs in the game. But that’s the way it goes. It kind of is what it is.”
If there ever was a time in which Saban should worry about his team having an uninspired week of practice, this might be it. Florida Atlantic is coming off an 1-11 season and is 1-2 under first-year head coach Carl Pelini, older brother of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
The Owls’ lone win was 7-3 over FCS member Wagner, which is winless. FAU lost to Georgia 56-20 on Saturday. Meanwhile, Alabama is ranked No. 1 and coming off its largest win ever over Arkansas, 52-0.
And that 50-point spread is so big, it’s the biggest in Covers.com’s archives for Alabama, which go back to 1985 when Ray Perkins was coach and Mike Shula the Tide’s quarterback.
But Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said he and his teammates are very much aware of the penalty for another bad week of practice — the wrath of Saban. The Tide coach let his players know what he thought of their preparation for the Western Kentucky game.
“We talked about it yesterday as a team,” Mosley said. “We got together and said we’ve got to have a better week. We have to improve and bring the momentum from last week to this week’s game.”
Then again, staying on Saban’s good side is a constant goal of the Tide players.
“As soon as you mess up, no matter what the score is, if you make a mental error, he’s going to be on you hard,” Tide safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said.
Alabama guard Chance Warmack said it can be a good thing the Tide practiced so poorly before playing Western Kentucky. After all, Alabama’s players now know the consequences when that happens.
“We all know the standard in which we have to perform, and I think that’s going to be a good thing for us in the season,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saban is approaching Florida Atlantic week the same as he did Western Kentucky week — showing compliments on the opponent in an effort to get his players to listen.
“We respect every team that we play,” Saban said. “Carl Pelini is a very, very good coach. He does a real good job with this team. They’re much improved relative to where they were a year ago.
“I think the way they played against Georgia last week sort of shows that. It was 14-14 in the second quarter. They moved the ball and created lots of problems. Guys played hard, and they’re well-coached. We certainly need to respect them and focus on what we need to do to improve as a team.”
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