There is something missing from the Alabama football program this week.
For a few days, at least, the tension levels are low.
With the first open Saturday since August facing the No. 2 Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC) are happy to have some time to rest their bodies and minds before No. 9 LSU poses the next threat to perfection Nov. 7 in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Coach Nick Saban said his team was “running on fumes” entering last Saturday’s 12-10 win over visiting Tennessee. So the break is more than welcome, it’s a necessity.
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“I think everybody has to be professional about the way they take care of themselves in this bye week in terms of getting rest and getting treatment, healed up,” Saban said. “Take vitamins, do whatever you have to do, sort of lift, recover, get back a little bit psychologically as well as physically.”
Being eight games into the season without that bye week means Alabama went two weeks longer than Saban likes to go without that time off. Knowing the circumstances well in advance, he gave the team two extra days off in the week leading into the Oct. 3 Kentucky game in which the team appeared sluggish early on.
The downtime is just that important, Saban said, to sustaining through the long season.
“I could see it in the players in the meetings last week. They were struggling to pay attention in the meetings,” Saban said. “So it’s not just physical — probably more mental than physical — and they’re not ready for another game plan. The cumulative effect of that is you make more mental errors in the game, you don’t execute as well, and it affects your performance.”
Although tight end Colin Peek is the only player missing significant playing time with an injury, the rest of the team is dealing with those bumps and bruises that are expected this time of the season.
Nose guard and Saturday’s kick-blocking hero Terrence Cody described the team as sluggish this week. With the Saturday off falling on Halloween and the team free to celebrate on their own, the 354-pound senior said he plans to hang out with his girlfriend mostly.
And his costume?
“Myself,” he said smiling.