Nick Saban clarifies Jaylen Waddle comments, calls him Alabama's 'most popular' player
When talking about Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle’s season-ending injury, Nick Saban created some controversy with his comments noting that Waddle got hurt on what he saw as an unnecessary kickoff return.
On his weekly radio show, Saban what into detail what he meant about Waddle not needing to bring the ball out on the opening kick against Tennessee:
“I think great players have great instincts and they make the right decisions as to what’s the best opportunity to make a play, and we give our players latitude to do that, aight. But then sometimes a player can be so anxious to make a play that they can actually try to make a play when there’s not a play there, aight. And that can put them in harm’s way.
“Quarterback can scramble when the receiver fell down and there’s really no play to make, and maybe you’d be better off throwing the ball away rather than taking a big hit. Bringing the ball out four or five yards deep out of the end zone when the guy’s got a 5.0 hang time on it. I mean, your chances of making a play in that situation are not great. And when it’s a middle return and you bounce it, that’s not good. So, you want to give players latitude to make plays, which we do.
“But we also want them to make good choices and decisions about what creates the opportunity for this? You’re going to have a much better opportunity to make a good play in certain circumstances. Now, everybody has got to execute and do their job, and if we would have executed and done our job better on that first play as a kickoff return unit, maybe nobody gets hurt. So, that’s the unfortunate thing.”
Saban also shared how losing Waddle is similar to losing Tua Tagovailoa last year.
“This is two years in a row we lost a player who was probably the most popular player on the team in terms of being a good teammate and being liked by his teammates,” Saban said. “Tua was that way last year, and Jaylen’s that way this year. And you just hate it for him because they’re just such great competitors and they mean so much to their team and their teammates.”