Two West Virginia natives will meet this week in College Station, Texas when Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher lead their teams.

On the SEC media teleconference on Wednesday, Saban recalled meeting Fisher for the first time.

“I had a lot of respect for Jimbo, we are from the same area so I knew who he was…,” Saban said. “I was familiar with him at Cincinnati, I knew his playcalling.”

Asked whether Fisher could win the SEC West at A&M, Saban said, “I can’t tell you that but I think he will do a good job and they have a great program. I think he will be successful. I think one of the things I’m most impressed with, overall as a team they are very capable. Their special teams is good, their skill players are good, I don’t really see one thing, I see a total team.”

The Aggies also have quality defensive backs.

“They have some good size, they have big corners, those are the guys I like, we have some too,” Saban said. “It’s an advantage, with length, jamming players… I think it’s an advantage for them and we expect them to play really well.”

As for the Crimson Tide, Saban said they’re looking to find balance with up-tempo offense and extending drives.

“I watch how people respond to our tempo, our execution, it’s never my intention to inhibit our team…,” he said, “most of the time, we play better when we play faster and that’s what I’m trying to impact on the game.”

This will be the second true road game for Alabama, something that continues to be an adjustment for young players.

“It’s like I said the other day, it’s like teaching an AP course, it’s tough to make an A in it,” he said. “You can’t really teach road experience, you just try to limit external factors but you can’t really simulate that too well.”

Here are Saban’s other comments:

  • on Xavier Mckinney: He has always been a guy that sets a great example and works hard… he has embraced his role as a leader and how he goes about his work and accepting his role as a leader
  • on special teams needing to improving: I think that the special teams have been very good, where the team has an advantage, like coverage, where we need to improve is execution by specialists.
  • on Gene Chizik: I have always had respect for Gene, he won a national championship. I think he’s a good analyst and I think he could be a good coach if he chose to do that
  • on Chizik’s firing: I don’t really think it’s for me to judge, I have respect for him but I don’t really like to see someone get fired when they have had success.
  • on Chris Owens being questionable, how big is the center QB relationship? I think it’s important but Landon has played center before, he’s practiced there, I don’t think it will be a problem.