Nick Saban confirms absences for Citrus Bowl, speaks to motivation among the players
The first bowl practice ahead of the Citrus Bowl for Alabama revealed that a pair of defenders are not expected to play in the game, coach Nick Saban confirmed on Monday.
Terrell Lewis and Trevon Diggs missed the practice and Saban discussed the issue after practice. Monday was the first time Saban said he’s seen the players for two weeks because he’s been recruiting.
“The attitude was good today, the energy was good today,” Saban said. “The last two times we were in this situation, whether it was to play Utah or to play Oklahoma, the other team sure had more to prove in the game than we did and the result certainly showed it. So hopefully we can learn something from those experiences as well.”
Saban was also asked about how the leaders on the team have responded to the bowl game not being for marquee championship.
“I don’t think anybody’s happy with the Iron Bowl, I think everybody’s really disappointed,” Saban said. “It’s OK to be disappointed. I believe in the team, I believe in the players. I believe in the leadership on this team. I believe this team has had a lot to overcome, and it continues to grow with what they’ve had to overcome and we’re going to coach the guys that want to play in the game and have a great attitude about playing in the game and that’s who we’re going to play in the game.”
Saban said his advice was for players to make business decisions, and he understands if they leave if players are a high first-round draft pick, from a risk versus reward perspective.
“But if you’re not in that position, and you have an opportunity to showcase your talents,” Saban said, “and try to impress people with how you play in the game. That’s pretty much what I told those guys and it’s their choice. Everybody has to live with sort of the consequences of their decisions, whether they’re good decisions or bad decisions.”
The pre-NFL Draft grading system can be a cautionary tale, Saban said.
“I got draft grades from 20 different teams … (from) people that pick, I’m not sure we have anybody in that position. … We’ve had guys that are (projected) in the 1st round get drafted in the 5th round. I don’t think all that information is exactly accurate.”