Saban takes issue with those claiming Alabama can't stop no-huddle
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ It was something that was bound to come up during training camp, but University of Alabama coach Nick Saban decided the time was right to say something Saturday.
When the first question after the Crimson Tide’s first fall scrimmage was if the defense was working more on stopping hurry-up, no-huddle offenses, Saban took issue with those claiming it’s an Alabama weakness.
“In all honesty, guys, you all make way too much of this,” he said. “I mean, the last game the team had 21 points against us with 30 seconds to go in the game, and I don’t think anybody held them to 21 points all year long. I saw them score 60 in the SEC Championship Game, or whatever.
“We shut Ole Miss out here. We had four turnovers against Oklahoma that led to 28 points. Two of them, the defense never even got back on the field. So there were 14 points they didn’t even show up for. They run the kickoff back for a touchdown, recovered a fumble for a touchdown – and gave them the ball another time on the 13-yard line. So when you look in it deeply relative to how the other teams do, do we need to play better or do we play as well against those teams as maybe some other teams? I guess you could make the case for that.”
Although Alabama gave up fewer than 200 total yards of offense to four opponents (including Kentucky and Mississippi State), and kept Ole Miss and Virginia Tech to under 225, the defense essentially yielded twice as many yards to three opponents.
Texas A&M tallied 628 total yards, Auburn had 393 and Oklahoma 429. Alabama won the first in a shootout and lost the other two.
“I do think that it’s much more difficult for defensive players to sustain their intensity throughout the game when they’re playing that many plays,” Saban continued. “So it becomes a team thing. How about keeping the ball away from them? How about controlling the ball on offense so they don’t the ball so much? That’s something that we did in the A&M game. We didn’t play very well on defense in that game, in my opinion. We didn’t play very well on defense in the Oklahoma game. But we make it out like we’re horrible when we play a (no-huddle) team.
“We played seven no-huddle teams last year. We didn’t as well as we should have in a couple of those games. But I also think that it takes the defensive coaches out of the game. We do a good job of scheming people when we play them. We do a good job of telling our players how they need to play things and how to stop what they do. And when you play a no-huddle team, you can’t do as good a job of that. They don’t recognize it as fast, and I don’t care how you practice it, it’s going to be difficult unless you’re a no-huddle team yourself.
“That has a downside because how do you coach the players? Can’t coach them between plays because everything’s about how fast you go.
So we’re going to improve on it. We’re practicing it better. We need to improve on it. But I think we need to improve on defense period.”