Failed to heed Saban’s warning
By CHRISTA TURNER
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Earlier in the week, Alabama coach Nick Saban launched into a tirade about respecting opponents.
He said he definitely had respect for Florida International, despite the Tide being a 36-point favorite. Turns out Saban knew what he was talking about. Alabama’s 40-14 victory over the Golden Panthers wasn’t as easy as it looked.
Alabama came out flat to open the game and, at the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, trailed 14-13.
The light then seemed to come.
“I really wasn’t happy with the energy and enthusiasm we came out with in the first half,” Saban said. “(Florida International) really played like great, competitive, young people.
“I don’t think as a group, we had the energy, enthusiasm and intensity we needed to set the tone. We allowed them to stay in the game with our mistakes.”
Saban warned about the perception of being able to blow out a perceived weaker team creating problems for a team — since players read the newspapers too, he said.
Players said the lack of enthusiasm was noticeable even during warm-ups.
“There wasn’t a lot of intensity, and it showed in the first half,” defensive tackle Terrence Cody said. “We settled down and got everything together, and then we dominated in the second half.”
“We’ve just got to buckle down and go play,” Cody added. “We shouldn’t have been down in the first place.”
Receiver Earl Alexander (Central-Phenix City), who had two catches for 20 yards, said coming out flat was “not acceptable.”
“It’s not about the opponent; it’s about us,” Alexander said. “We have to execute no matter who’s on the other side of the ball.”