Since Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has seemingly let out a sigh of relief following a big game with LSU, win or lose.
There was the inexplicable loss to Mississippi State in 2007 following a tough defeat to LSU in Saban’s first season. In 2011, the Tide lost the “Game of the Century” to the Tigers and had a lackluster performance in a win over Mississippi State the next week.
And who can forget last season when Texas A&M stormed into Tuscaloosa and upset the Tide? This week, a struggling Mississippi State team with nothing to lose awaits the Tide in Starkville.
Saban wants his team to be aware of the roadblocks that remain.
“I think the biggest thing is the players have to embrace the next challenge of what they need to do to play well,” Saban said. “You cannot take things for granted. There can’t be any kind of relief syndrome that, ‘We got by that game.’”
Saban hopes the team that took the field in the second half against LSU is the one that shows up for the rest of the season.
“I think the most important thing, and I think this last game sort of showed that, the team we want to be is the team we were in the second half, an aggressive team that’s trying to control the line of scrimmage, playing aggressively,” Saban said. “Not a team playing with a lot of anxiety that’s worried about making mistakes and errors. We made a lot of mental errors in the first half of the game.
“You’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to play to win. You can’t play to keep from getting beat.”
Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood said the key is for the Tide to stay focused on its routine.
“To be honest, I think everybody’s just more, I guess, relaxed, I guess, after that game,” Norwood said. “But at the same time, everybody knows that we must continue to keep this momentum going so we can build for the next game and the next game and the next game after that. I don’t think anybody’s just relieved. I don’t think anybody’s satisfied. Everybody’s still hungry, everybody wants to go out and compete.”
Tide quarterback AJ McCarron doesn’t feel the need to change his leadership approach this week.
“I’m just going to stay my normal self,” McCarron said. “I think we’ve got enough really good leaders on this team and older guys to lead this team in the right way. I mean we’re not going to get caught up in this one win. It happened to us last year. We’ll be ready to go.”