TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- These are the dogs days of November for Alabama football.
Coming off physically and emotionally taxing wins over LSU and Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide must find a way to keep its energy level up for Western Carolina while also not looking ahead to the Iron Bowl in two weeks.
The Crimson Tide will host the Catamounts (7-4) on Saturday for Homecoming. And while no opponent should be taken lightly, Western Carolina doesn't have the same clout as the Tide's two previous opponents.
But Tide coach Nick Saban has a message for the players.
"I think the most important thing to do at this time of year is everybody stay focused on what they've got to do," Saban said.
"Focus is like momentum. When you lose momentum in the game, it's really hard to get back. So if you don't stay focused on what you need to do to get better, it's not about the other team, it's about what we need to do as a team."
The players get it as well. Many who were on last year's team felt the Tide lost focus following the LSU game and it ultimately caught up with them in its lost to Auburn.
To guard against that, Tide safety Nick Perry said Saban is more likely to yell and get after the team during a week like this compared to a big SEC game.
"I think he just wants to make sure that we are taking these guys seriously and that we're not overlooking these guys," Perry said.
"That is our next opponents and we're going to get their best shot. I think so far this season you can tell any team can be beat by any team. So we definitely want to go out there and put our best game out and don't overlook them."
But yelling and screaming only go so far. What else can Saban and the other coaches do to get the players attention? For starters, they control the workouts.
"Well, he can make practice harder," Perry said. "He can start things over. If he thinks you're not going about it the right way, he has no problem starting it over."
Avoiding complacency becomes the Tide's biggest challenge throughout the rest of the season. If Alabama is lucky and wins out, it'll have four games left after this week, including a possible SEC Championship game and two postseason games in the playoff.
While the coaches will certainly do their parts to push the right buttons, Tide tight end Brian Vogler (Brookstone) said it's "more about how do we motivate each other."
"Just as players, we know we're never going to overlook a team," Vogler said. "This is another team that's standing in between what we want as a team, our long-term goal, and we know that if we come out and execute on every single play like we're supposed to, then things will take care of themselves.
"But if we're not locked in to every single snap of practice, if we're not locked in on meetings, then we can't go out and execute every single play.
"Those little things are what's going to help us succeed in this game."
-- Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@Marq_Burnett.