TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ Looking for a little extra motivation, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban reminded his players Wednesday of the message one of the Crimson Tide’s guest speakers delivered during training camp, about unleashing their inner beast.

“Everyone wants to be the beast — you’ve heard that one before — until you have to do what the beast do,” he said. “Well, when it gets hot outside and you have to practice in pads and take a lot of reps, you either have beast mode or you don’t have it.

“We had some guys that had it and some guys didn’t. We have to get that corrected so we can get everybody doing what they need to do so they can get better individually and we can get better as a team.”

The beast reference originated from Eric Thomas, the one-time homeless high school dropout who played nine seasons in the National Football League with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Denver Broncos. He’s also known as the Hip Hop Preacher.

Although hot weather is nothing new during the early part of the football season, uncomfortable conditions have been lingering in Tuscaloosa, where the high was 95 and the heat index near 100 on Wednesday.

“It was hot,” sophomore wide receiver Chris Black said. “Guys were cramping up left and right.

“It’s just mental, but at the end of practice, it kind of takes a toll on your body.”

Fortunately for the players the temperature is expected to be on the decline by Saturday, when it hosts Southern Miss (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The forecast is for a high of 83, but with 76 percent humidity and a 40 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms.

It’s Alabama’s final tune-up for its Southeastern Conference opener against Florida on Sept. 20.

“He kind of preaches to us that champions don’t really focus on their opponent,” Black said. “That’s what he’s been preaching since last week. We’ve got to play to our standard.”