TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – After the game in Tennessee, Alabama’s first loss of the 2022 season, Nick Saban said he believes his team is tight before stepping onto the field at Neyland Stadium.
On his radio show Thursday before the Iron Bowl, a caller asked the Crimson Tide head coach how he was preparing his team to face off against an energetic Auburn team that has nothing to lose.
“I think our players are very proud,” said Saban. “I think they want to end the season. You have a chance and you understand that one of the things that will always be remembered about your team in Alabama is how you did at the Iron Bowl. I mean, I think that’s something that everyone will remember. All the ex-players here, when you talk to them, if they’ve played for Coach Bryant or whoever, they always ask how did they do at the Iron Bowl? And I think our players understand that. We have quite a lot of players who have been in this game before. You know what a physical, tough game that is.
“But I think the other thing is that our players want to win 10 games. I think maybe our goals and aspirations were to get into the SEC championship game, win the west, see if we make the playoffs and all that. But we also have the opportunity to win 10 games , which I think we have been doing for a number of years. I think they are very proud of that. I think they take a lot of pride in the whole culture of the organization and how you represent it and how they want to represent it. And it’s part of their legacy how they end the season.”
Saban also gave a brief but positive review of the Tigers’ three days of field preparation.
“This game is very important to them and they’ve practiced really well this week in terms of focus, attention to detail, energy levels and all of those things,” said Saban. “You have to persevere until you get the job done.”
Ranked 7th in the current College Football Playoff Top 25, Alabama will look to end the regular season with a win over its state rival. But Auburn (5-6, 2-5 SEC) has won its last two games under interim head coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and appears to be a motivated group after a midseason coaching change. Saban said Williams did “a phenomenal job.”
“You look at the competitive nature of a team, and I think that reflects how someone impacts the team,” Saban said. “…Your players play really hard. They play good football. They play together as a unit. You have confidence. They believe in each other and that’s why they’ve won two of the last three games they played and the one they lost they lost in overtime.
“They’re playing really well at the moment and I think Cadillac has to give that credit because it’s not an easy situation to inherit in terms of a mid-season guard change. And getting the players to advocate for him speaks volumes about the kind of competitive nature he has.”
The 87th Iron Bowl kicks off on Saturday, November 26 at 2:30 pm CT on CBS in Tuscaloosa.
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