HOOVER - After the most lopsided loss since becoming the head coach of Alabama, Nick Saban is ready for the season to get underway.
HOOVER — After the most lopsided loss since becoming the head coach of Alabama, Nick Saban is ready for the season to get underway.
“I think this is always about the time (of the year),” he said, “you know, this week when I start shaking my leg again, my knee starts popping, that I've had just about enough of sitting around, relaxing, jumping in the lake, playing golf in the morning, and really get excited about the season.”
Alabama is looking to re-establish their identity heading into the 2019 season.
“You know, I think the most important thing for us in this offseason and going into the season is sort of re-establish the standard that we'd like to play to and the standard of discipline,” Saban said during his opening statement at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “Players that are going to be responsible and accountable to do their job at a high level on a consistent basis and also put the team first.
“It doesn't mean you can't have individual goals and aspirations in terms of what you want to accomplish, what you want to do for the team, but it has to be about the team.
The Crimson Tide outscored their regular season opponents 588-165, winning every game by no less than 22 points. Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who finished second in Heisman voting in December, said that the team played for the scoreboard instead of to the standard his head coach frequently talks about.
“I think it comes down to how we prepared during the second half of the season,” Tagovailoa said. “Our team was goal oriented during that second half of the season – we played looking at the scoreboard. If the scoreboard looked good to us we would kind of ease off and let the second group of guys go in. We weren't playing the way we were supposed to be playing – only playing for two or three quarters and then we let off the gas.”
While the loss to Clemson was tough for the team, he said the 44-16 loss in the National Championship can be beneficial to the team moving forward into the 2019 season.
“I think sine we lost, it as a good experience for our team entirely because a lot of us have come back and it is something that we don't take for granted now. Winning isn't something that you should take for granted.”
Saban thinks his players learned a lot from that experience, saying that they didn't play with the discipline at the end of the season that he expects. He stressed the importance of playing to a standard and doing what “we need to do to be the best team that we can be. And that's got to be something that's done on a consistent basis, and it has to be able to sustain the season.”
Saban is looking to leaders such as Tagovailoa to set the example.
“(They need to) to be somebody that the young players on the team can emulate, care enough about them to help them for their benefit, and serve the team well because if helps everybody play to a higher standard.”
Linebacker Dylan Moses, who Saban said will be the defensive signal caller this year, was also available on Wednesday and was asked about the defense reaching the “Alabama standard”.
“That's really what I'm focusing on,” he said. “It all boils down to the right leadership and guys being on the same page. The coach is going to make the right call. It's all up to us to execute it and it's all up to me to get that done. Whatever happens with this defense this year is on me.”
Tua told the Daily Mountain Eagle that there is no change in approach to how the team prepares ahead of this season, but that he and the leadership on the team has adopted the mantra of “never be satisfied.”
“Earlier in the season, we'd be been beating teams by a lot and of course we are going to get satisfied because we feel, you know, invincible as a team. So 'never being satisfied' is the way to go for us. We've gotta keep going until we get what we want.”