KNOXVILLE, Tennessee. – Alabama coach Nick Saban finally stepped down, albeit reluctantly. He said college football had officially become an insulting game.
“It used to be that good defense beats a good offense. Good defense no longer beats a good offense,” Saban told ESPN on Friday. “Just like last week. Georgia has as good a defense as we do, and we scored 41 points for them [in a 41-24 Alabama win]. It wasn’t like that before. It used to be, if there was good protection, other people wouldn’t have scored. You would always be in the game.
– I’m telling you. This is no longer the case.
And what about Saban, one of the most important defensive minds in the game and the architect of some of the most dominant defenses in college football over the past two decades?
“I don’t like it,” he said with an ironic smile. “But we just have to make sure we have a crime that way and that explosive we have.”
The No. 2 Crimson Tide, who face Tennessee on Saturday at Newland Stadium, have scored 35 or more points in each of their last 17 games, returning to the start of the 2019 season. They have scored more than 40 points in 13 of those 17 games. Saban noted that teams that won the SEC last week averaged 33.2 points.
“It’s hard to train defense now because there are so many concepts to miss in what everyone is doing,” Saban said. “I mean, it’s really very difficult to train secondary … because you get so many inconsistencies there.”
While Alabama ranks second in the country for scoring offense (48.5 points per game) and fifth in overall defense (561.3 yards per game), the tide is 37th in defense estimates (28.8 points per game). match) and is tied for 61st place in the overall defense (458.3 yards per game).
“We are not very good in defense, on average at best, but I think we will improve,” Saban said, adding that to be elite in defense you need to be especially good in secondary.
“We will get there, but this group [in the secondary] not enough experience. You have to go through growing pain with these boys because they see so much in college football. Every week we see something different. “
Saban said part of the difficulty in developing elite defenders and training them early in their careers is that most of the best athletes and skill players are playing insult now in high school and that very few are playing defensively. In fact, Saban said he worked on senior receiver DeVonta Smith on the corner of pre-season camp to prepare him for an emergency.
“None of these boys grew up playing defensively, from junior high school, high school or whatever,” Saban said. “So all the best athletes end up playing crime. One of the best corners on our team is [Smith]. This year in camp I trained him on the corner. He can cover anyone and has never played defense in his life because he was in an offensive country. Don’t you think Jalen Waddle would be a good defender? “
Saban, who turns 69 this month, said the fear last week, when he was initially positive for COVID-19, only boosted how much he enjoyed training and being on the field with the players.
But anyone who thinks they may have tasted retirement when they are isolated at home during those three days may want to think again.
“I did exactly everything I would have if I were in the office every day,” Saban said. “I was in meetings with the Zoom players. I was increasing in the special teams meeting, just like I was in my regular place. I was in the defensive backs’ meeting, the defensive meeting and on the phone with the coaches during the training. And when the training was over, we would to watch the tape for defense, attack and special teams. “
Saban joked that his wife Terry asked, “Do you do this every day for 14 hours?”
Later that evening, she asked Saban if she wanted to walk to the lake.
“I said, ‘No, I have an appointment in 15 minutes,'” Saban said.
Saban said the hardest part is waiting for the test results before the match in Georgia. He needed three consecutive negative PCR tests, according to SEC guidelines, to determine the first test as false positive, which Saban said Friday was a quick antigen test.
“I was just praying I could get there,” Saban said. “I would feel terrible if the team didn’t play well or if we lost the game because I wasn’t there, not that we would lose because I wasn’t there, but I would feel that way. the players and coaches did an exceptional job, not allowing this to affect them during the week. “
Saban had warned the players that this season would be filled with breaks and would be prepared for them. But he never imagined it would be one of those interruptions.
“I told them, ‘It will be the norm that something happens every week.’ Someone will have positive tests, “Saban said.” So when we had the team meeting on Wednesday, after I initially tested positive, I said, ‘You know, there has to be something certain to keep me out “But I said, ‘This is one of those interruptions I talked about, and just because it’s me, we’re still going to manage it.’
“Everyone in the building did great.”