Texas knocked the Crimson Tide down to 10th in the latest Top 25 poll and head coach Nick Saban spent his Sunday spreading one message to his team: Where Alabama goes from here is up to them.
The end of a 21-game home nonconference winning streak and a top-five ranking fade in the rear view as Saban attempts to point the Crimson Tide’s attention on what’s next.
He likened the aftermath of the loss to the Longhorns to counseling a player after a rough test in a class early in the semester.
“We didn’t grade out very well on the test, so what are we going to do to get a better grade?” Saban said. “I think that’s what we have to really learn and grow from and make a commitment to. I think our players with the kind of character and attitude that we’ve shown so far as a team, I think they’ll respond the right way. And I think the coaches will do the same.”
The Crimson Tide sustained self-inflicted wounds in the 34-24 defeat, atypical mistakes for a Saban-coached club. They included 10 penalties, two of which nullified touchdowns, and near constant pressure on quarterback Jalen Milroe, who completed 14 of 27 passes for 255 yards with two interceptions.
“I don’t know that … we had much of an identity,” Saban said. “I think we started out early in the game being able to run the ball effectively and did not mix up the play-action pass to complement the run game. And eventually it got harder and harder to run the ball.”
Alabama (1-1) plays at South Florida this week and kicks off SEC play Sept. 23 facing another former assistant coach when Lane Kiffin escorts No. 17 Ole Miss into town. Saban has lost consecutive games to former assistants Kirby Smart and Steve Sarkisian.
Speaking Monday before practice, Saban was preparing to welcome the team to a mass film session to review the Texas loss. It was the first time Saban and players were together since postgame Saturday night. But he already felt like he knew what the collective response would be this week.
“I would be shocked if these guys don’t come in here today with the attitude that we’re going to go out there and try to improve and get better,” he said. “And the future is now. We’ve got to do it now — that’s the main thing.”
–Field Level Media