WATCH: Nick Saban: Why ‘mentally tired’ Alabama may taper prep for Georgia
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban just completed arguably the most dominant regular season in college football (FBS) history, but he can’t wait to get started on the postseason.
Saban wants his players to be just as eager — and efficient — against the Georgia football program at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide has won all 12 games this season by 20 points or more, a feat that occurred only once before, in 1888 by Yale.
But slow starts in each of the past two games have Saban concerned Alabama could be mentally tired at this stage of the season.
“You always want to make sure your team is physically fresh, but the more difficult thing to determine is, are the players getting mentally tired,” Saban said, asked by DawgNation on Monday about the Tide’s starts the past two games.
“You want to make sure that both parts of that equation are in order, to be fresh and ready and to go,” he said. “I can’t say 100 percent for sure if that’s had anything to do with how we’ve started the last two games.”
Alabama looked beatable for most of the first half against Auburn on Saturday, holding a 17-14 lead through the first 30 minutes before pouring it on en route to a 52-21 victory.
The week before, against 53-point underdog The Citadel, the Tide was deadlocked 10-10 at the half before scoring a 50-17 win.
“If we were physically tired we wouldn’t be able to come out and play so well in the second half, but if we were mentally tired maybe that affected our preparation going into the games, which affected how we started,” Saban said, “and I would say in this last game, based on mental errors that we made and the fundamental execution not being as sharp as it needed to be, that may have been the case.
“Hopefully we can get everyone turned around this week.”
Saban identified the issue with slow starts following the Auburn game on Saturday night.
“I have not been pleased with the way we played in the first half of the last two games on really either side of the ball,” Saban said. “We don’t seem to have the kind of intensity, mental energy to start the game that you’d like to see in your team or that we had earlier in the season. So we want to play for 60 minutes in the game.”
Saban indicated he may taper things down in Tuscaloosa this week in preparation for No. 5-ranked Georgia to make sure his players are geared up for a fast start next Saturday.
“Maybe at this time of the season you have to cut back some things that you do,” Saban said, “and try to make sure you’re getting all the reps you need to prepare for the game, but not physically and mentally wearing your team out.”
Alabama rallied from a 13-0 deficit in the College Football Playoff Championship Game last January, beating Georgia 26-23 in overtime.
Alabama coach Nick Saban
Road to Atlanta
- Part 1: Special teams, Georgia has the edge
- Part 2: Rush defense, Alabama has the edge
- Part 3: Pass defense, Georgia has the edge
- Part 4: Rush offense is even between UGA, Bama
- Part 5: Pass offense, Alabama has the edge
- WATCH: Alabama’s Nick Saban says ‘mentally tired’ Tide needs to get fresh for Georgia