published Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Coach Nick Saban wants focus on Tide with FAU next

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday at a news conference that the quarterback competition for the Crimson Tide still is too close to call.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday at a news conference that the quarterback competition for the Crimson Tide still is too close to call.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TIDE, TAKE THREE

• 1. Alabama's defense has allowed 92 touchdowns since the start of the 2009 season, the fewest of any Bowl Subdivision team. LSU is next with 130.

• 2. The Crimson Tide had six first-time starters in Saturday's win over West Virginia: quarterback Blake Sims, left tackle Cameron Robinson, defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and D.J. Pettway and linebackers Reuben Foster and Reggie Ragland.

• 3. Alabama has 15 players who had their degrees before the start of this season, matching Boston College for the most in the FBS.

With Florida Atlantic next up on Alabama's football schedule, coach Nick Saban said Monday that this week's focus should be on the Crimson Tide.

Florida Atlantic opened this past weekend with a 55-7 loss at Nebraska, giving up a staggering 784 yards. The Owls received a $1 million payday from the Cornhuskers and will receive another $1 million for visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium, where they lost 40-7 in 2012.

"These guys are well-coached, and we certainly have a lot of respect for them," Saban said in his weekly news conference, "but the focus is on what we need to do to make our team better. That is what we are really going to try and focus on this week. I think it is really important how much you improve from first game to second game, and I think the key to be being successful in this season for a lot of teams that I saw is going to be who can improve."

Alabama coaches and players have plenty to delve into following their opening 33-23 victory over West Virginia in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide gave up 365 passing yards, allowed a 100-yard kickoff return and had to speed up their offensive tempo in the second quarter when quarterback Blake Sims started to struggle.

Saban said there is still a competition between Sims and Florida State transfer Jacob Coker and that he would try to play both quarterbacks against the Owls.

"I don't know how," Saban said, "and when I figure it out, I'm probably not going to tell you."

Sims threw for 250 yards and rushed for 42 in his starting debut. Saturday also was the first game for Lane Kiffin as Crimson Tide offensive coordinator.

Saban was asked how things went on the sideline with Kiffin, who had hoped to work from the coaching booth.

"I think it went well," Saban said, "and I think if he wasn't on the sidelines, we would have had a lot more issues and maybe more issues than we could have overcome to be successful in the game. He did a really good job of managing Blake and helping him manage the game as much as you could ever do it.

"I don't think anybody could have done that had he been in the press box. I think that was critical, but that got decided two weeks ago."

Eight Alabama players were recognized by the coaching staff for their performances: tailback T.J. Yeldon, fullback Jalston Fowler and receiver Amari Cooper on offense and lineman Jonathan Allen, cornerback Cyrus Jones and safety Landon Collins on defense. Kicker Adam Griffith, who went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts and was named Monday night the SEC special teams player of the week, and punter JK Scott, whose first kick traveled 62 yards, were honored as well.

Saban was asked about Jones making the list, given the Tide's struggles defending the pass.

"He played really, really well and made two big plays inside the 10-yard line," Saban said. "He was the one guy who consistently did what he was supposed to do in the secondary. He did a good job of covering, and he didn't give up many plays."

Said Jones, who had seven tackles and a pass breakup: "It feels good to get recognized, and it motivates me to keep grinding."

Tide tidbits

Senior safety Jarrick Williams is expected to miss at least four weeks with a fractured foot, said Saban, who put a two-week timetable on senior receiver DeAndrew White's shoulder injury. ... Junior Geno Smith is expected to fill in for Williams. ... Saban said sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson, who tore his ACL this spring, has been cleared to play but hasn't received many first- or second-team reps with coaches having to get other players ready. ... Fowler telling reporters the key to blocking for T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry: "You've got to get out of their way. They'll run it right up your back."

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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