BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
It may have been Nick Saban’s 200th win as head coach at Alabama on Saturday, but he was not ready to include this victory in his masterclass on the art of the coaching.
Saban, whose Crimson Tide win total is second only to legendary Arkansas native Paul Bear Bryant’s 207, was upset with how his team got up 24-6 early in the third quarter only to see the Razorbacks rallying for what turned into a 24-21 decision in Tuscaloosa.
It was Alabama’s 17th consecutive win over Arkansas in the series and also served as the fifth straight win for the SEC Western Division leading Crimson Tide (6-1, 4-0) and the fifth consecutive loss for the Razorbacks (2-5, 0-4).
“I am happy we won and happy with where we are in the SEC relative to how we have progressed. But there is a difference in beating the other team and winning the game.
“You know we played pretty well in the game up until 24-6, which was about halfway through the third quarter and then we didn’t finish. We got penalties. I mean the whole momentum of the game changed on third down stop. We grab a guy by the facemask after the play, which to me is bad. You can say what you want, but if a guy does that, he is putting himself ahead of what is best for the team and putting yourself in harm’s way of having a chance to win.
“And then they go down the field and score, the momentum of the game changes, we go three and out on offense, we have a couple of dropped balls, missed a couple of throws, not executing and not hitting on all cylinders and we let the other team back in it…But we had the resilence to take the clock at the end of the game and not give them the ball back, which is really I think important in the game.
“Hopefully we can learn how to beat the other team, not just win the game, but beat the other team, which means you have got to play for 60 minutes, execute, do your job, have discipline, do it one play at a time for 60 minutes in the game.
“Look, if we didn’t have the intensity in the second half, that’s one me. That’s my responsibility. I was always get asked what the halftime message was, but obviously this one is not repeating so why would we even talk about it. It obviously wasn’t very good. Anyway we have got a lot that we can learn from.
“I have a lot of respect for this team,” Saban said. “I told this team, I said ‘this is going to be a different type of fight because Sam is an offensive line guy. He is a tough guy, he is a physical guy and their team is going to keep fighting in the game no matter what. They always do when they play us. So we need to be ready for that.’ And obviously I didn’t make that point as well as I need to.”
“…We have just got to teach and learn from all these things and hopefully realize what it takes, not only in the game, but in the week of preparation leading up to the game so you an go out there and play against really good competition.
“I have got a lot of respect for Arkansas. LSU beat them by three points, Ole Miss beat them by a touchdown, all on the road so this is not he kind of team you all think they are. They are a good team and that quarterback is a handful.
“I mean when a quarterback can take a major college football player and sling him off like…a gnat on a cow’s ass, that was one of the most impressive plays that I have ever seen a player make.
“We said if one guy gets a guy, you’ve got to hang on and have got to clean him up and we didn’t clean him on some of those drives and let them get back in the game.”
Photo by Craven Whitlow