published Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Alabama coach Nick Saban tweaks media's savvy

TIDE, TAKE THREE

Three tidbits regarding top-ranked Alabama entering this Saturday's game at Missouri:

1. Alabama, Air Force and Louisiana Tech are the only Bowl Subdivision schools yet to throw an interception this season.

2. Coach Nick Saban is 17-1 in October games with the Crimson Tide. His only loss was at South Carolina in 2010.

3. The Crimson Tide are averaging just four penalties and 33 penalty yards a game.

Three of college football's top five teams lost this past Saturday, giving Alabama coach Nick Saban yet another pulpit from which to lecture.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide had an open date while Florida State was losing at North Carolina State, LSU was wearing down at Florida and Georgia was getting thumped at South Carolina. Alabama (5-0) returns to action Saturday at Missouri, which dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play with a 19-15 loss to visiting Vanderbilt.

"The teams that most of you make head and shoulders above other teams obviously showed you how badly you can be mistaken," Saban said Monday. "I know I can be mistaken and get criticized, but you all are badly mistaken when you make teams so much better than everybody else. This weekend kind of proved that your predictability is not very good, and I think what it proved is that the only thing predictable about college football is that it's unpredictable.

"This is an important game to us. It's an SEC game, and it's a place where nobody in our team meeting has ever been before, including me."

Missouri starting quarterback James Franklin sprained his left knee during the opening quarter against the Commodores and is out this week, giving the Tide the potential of feasting on another backup. Alabama drilled Arkansas 52-0 on Sept. 15, when Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson was sidelined with a concussion.

Corbin Berkstresser replaced Franklin against Vanderbilt and completed just 9 of 30 attempts for 189 yards, with 85 coming on a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter that was intended for a different receiver.

"We know they are a fast-paced offense," Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "They are going to be in some empties [backfields] and different kinds of shifts and motions. As a whole, just like any other team, we need to stop the run first and defend the past second."

Alabama leads the nation in total defense (allowing 191.6 yards a game) and scoring defense (allowing 7.0 points per contest).

With Crimson Tide third- and fourth-string tailbacks Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart out with season-ending injuries, reserve tight end Brent Calloway and backup quarterback Blake Sims have taken reps to back up Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Calloway rushed for 1,974 yards and 29 touchdowns as a Russellville (Ala.) High senior in 2010, while Sims contributed some at tailback last season, rushing 22 times for 107 yards.

Though Saban never has taken a team to Missouri, he is quite familiar with Tigers coach Gary Pinkel. Each played at Kent State, where Saban graduated in 1973 and Pinkel in '75, and Pinkel replaced Saban as Toledo's coach following the 1990 season.

"I've just always had a tremendous amount of respect for the kind of person Gary is," Saban said. "He's a hard worker, and he's smart football-wise."

Saban, incidentally, went 9-2 in one year with the Rockets. Pinkel coached Toledo to a 73-37-3 record from 1991 to 2000, which was highlighted by an 11-0-1 season in 1995 that culminated with a win over Nevada in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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