published Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Nick Saban obsessing on GSU, not BCS

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's late-night ride home didn't suddenly turn into a party bus after the ranks of college football's unbeatens thinned out.

Noseguard Josh Chapman is a little fuzzy on the details of how the third-ranked Crimson Tide reacted upon learning that Stanford and Boise State both lost Saturday.

"I know I kind of dozed off on the bus," Chapman said, "so I really don't even know."

Cornerback DeQuan Menzie said his reaction was a subdued "Yes!"

"I try not to think about it," Menzie said. "Coach doesn't want us watching stuff like that. We try to keep our head out of the TV."

Nick Saban has trained his players well. Stanford's loss to Oregon helped Alabama remain at No. 3 in the BCS standings, poised to move on up if No. 1 LSU or No. 2 Oklahoma State falls.

Or maybe it put Oregon, Oklahoma or even Arkansas in position to overtake the Tide, who host FCS power Georgia Southern on Saturday before closing out the regular season at rebuilding Auburn.

Saban's not exactly holing up in his office trying to figure out the calculus of various BCS scenarios that might put Alabama in New Orleans vying for its second national championship in three years. He insists his focus is on defending Georgia Southern's triple option, not the BCS.

"I don't really care about that," he said. "I've been sitting in that room for two days now trying to get enough guys on the pitch guy. You figure it out and come tell me what [the BCS secret] is, because I don't know -- and don't really care. All's I know is we just need to take care of what we control, and what we control is how we play.

"My contribution to that is how do we get the team ready to play. I could care less about that, because I don't understand it to start with."

An overtime loss to LSU pretty much left the matter out of his team's hands -- especially since the Tide's final two regular-season games don't really supply big opportunities to juice computer ratings or dazzle poll voters. They also don't necessarily provide tailback Trent Richardson with built-in chances to boost his Heisman Trophy stock.

Neither the Tide nor Richardson put up spectacular stats in a 24-7 win at Mississippi State. Richardson churned out 127 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 32 carries, but he took over late in the game.

The relatively close final score isn't just about Alabama's effort, Saban said.

"There's something about that [Bulldogs] team," he said. "They play tough on defense. They're very competitive. They really play hard.

"It seems like every game that people beat them, you beat them but you don't ever look very good doing it. And nobody else looked very good doing it, either. The players competed well in the game, competed hard, played extremely well on defense, didn't get started very well offensively but responded much better in the second half."

Saban also defended Alabama's special teams, if not the kickers. Cade Foster missed a 49-yard field-goal attempt, and Jeremy Shelley failed on a 31-yarder and hit a 24-yarder.

The misses were mainly notable because they came on the heels of a combined 2-for-6 performance in the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU.

"Our special teams did one bad thing in the [MSU] game," Saban said. "We didn't cover one kickoff correctly. The rest of what the special teams did was OK. There's a difference between special teams and specialists. A lot of people think that if your specialists don't perform well, your special teams were bad. And that's not necessarily right.

"We need to improve. But I also think that some of these things that we try -- these long field goals -- well, we're not going to make those at the same percentage that we should be able to make some of the other ones. We're going to continue to work on that."

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