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No. 1 Crimson Tide football team cannot afford to regress at this point, according to Saban (via Crimson Magazine)

14 Nov 2016 Stan J. Griffin

By Stan J. Griffin: November 14, 2016

A 51-3 victory over Mississippi State by Nick Saban's No. 1 Alabama football team this past weekend extended the Crimson Tide program's overall winning streak to 22 games, but most importantly improved UA to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama played one of its most complete games of the season in romping past Dan Mullen's Bulldogs, and now the Crimson Tide stands only a handful of wins away from running the table and repeating as both SEC and College Football Playoff national champions.
Saban noted on Monday, though, that his team cannot afford to lose focus on its overall mission, which includes continuing to improve on a weekly basis. This includes its upcoming game on Saturday against Russ Huesman's Football Championship Subdivision Chattanooga Mocs of the Southern Conference.
The Tide and the Mocs (8-2 overall, 6-2 in SoCon play) meet at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
"I think this week, you know with the ole Shawshank Redemption statement, you're either busy living or you're busy dying, really kind of means you're really not going to stay the same," said Saban. "So from our perspective, we're either going to get better or we're going to get worse, we're probably not going to stay the same. So we need each unit on the team, each group on the team, each individual on the team to take ownership and be responsible for the things they need to do to work this week and improve as a team."
He added that his team will be facing a talented Moc team that was ranked No. 7 in the FCS before falling at home this past weekend to Wofford.
"Chattanooga is a very well-coached team and (Huesman) has done a really good job there," said Saban. "They're 8-2 and one of the top teams in their division. They have 14 starters returning from last year's team. They basically do a really good job on offense with the quarterback run-type stuff, and their play action game which is difficult to defend. They really play hard on defense and special teams and this is a game that we need to focus on what we need to do technically to get better as a team and try to go out and play our best game and build on what we did in the last game."


Of course continuous improvement and focus are common themes with the 10th-year Crimson Tide coach relative to his team, but those themes may likely have more of a special meaning for the Alabama players after a chaotic  weekend in the college football world that saw No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Washington, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn all fall victim to upset losses.
"I think the message is, when you win,  you control your own destiny, and when you don't, you allow somebody else to determine  what your fate's going to be," said Saban. "So we have all these teams that lost one game and now somebody has to decide who gets to do what. So, if you put yourself in that situation, you let somebody else decide what your fate is. If you take care of your business, and do things the way you need to do it, then maybe you can control your own destiny by how you play. And that's certainly much more the way we would like for it to be from our perspective. We've got lots of tough games that we'll have to play between now and then, be we want to take them one game at a time and focus on improving."
With the competition level supposedly dropping a notch this week in terms of the Tide playing a team from the FCS division, many observers might note that Alabama has an opportunity against the Mocs to solidify its No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff poll with a lopsided home win.
Don't expect Saban, however, to buy into that logic due to fact that he emphasizes showing great respect to an opponent, and the Tide coach said he does not feel that margin of victory should even be a factor in determining a team's placement in the polls.
"I've heard people on the (playoff selection) committee say that's not a factor, and that's not something that's considered. I don't think it should be considered," he said. "I don't think that beating another team by an embarrassing score really should be something that from a sportsmanship standpoint, or a common respect standpoint for the other team and their players and their families, that's not really something that should be a part of the game. So, I'm thinking that it doesn't affect the committee. It's not a criteria, and I certainly agree with thinking that it shouldn't be."
The critical games during the month of November, which include a host of rivalry games, such as Alabama/Auburn and Michigan/Ohio State, often serve to separate the true contenders from the pretenders, and Saban said it takes a tremendous approach by a certain team to successfully navigate the November stretch.
"I think the players have to have a real focus on what they need to do right now, and I think what happens is players start getting goal-oriented and they start saying when we lost in November, I think we played to keep from getting beat rather than being aggressive and playing to win," he said. "I think that comes to some degree from anxiety that gets created from worrying about outcomes rather than focusing on what you need to get the outcome that you want. That's certainly what we try to do here, and hopefully our players will continue to respond on that in a positive way."
Tide freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the big win against MSU, the league office announced on Monday.
He accounted for 447 yards of total offense, throwing for a career-high 347 yards while adding 100 yards rushing to become the only quarterback in Alabama history to rush for 100-plus yards while passing for 300-plus yards.
He accounted for five total touchdowns, throwing for four and rushing for one score, which tied the school record for total touchdowns in a game. The Channelview, Texas, native finished 28-of-37 with four touchdowns compared to one interception, while rushing 11 times for 100 yards and one score.
In addition, the UA coaching staff recognized 11 players following the romp over the Bulldogs as its players of the week.
Bradley Bozeman, O.J. Howard,  Hurts and Jonah Williams were selected on offense, Ryan Anderson, Da’Ron Payne and Dalvin Tomlinson on defense, and Adam Griffith, Keith Holcombe, JK Scott and Levi Wallace on special teams.
It was announced that the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl showdown between Alabama and Auburn in Bryant-Denny Stadium has been set for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff.
The contest will be televised by CBS. 

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