‘Waiting is the toughest part’ was the general message received from members of the Crimson Tide football team as Alabama got set to take on the Ole Miss Rebels at a kickoff time slated for 8:00 p.m. The same message rang true for the usual night game time slots Alabama played in against opponents like LSU and Mississippi State.
Alabama has a completely different challenge ahead of it today, as the Tide’s 11:21 a.m. kickoff time will have the Capstone Hotel on Bryant Drive buzzing much earlier than the norm.
What does Alabama head coach Nick Saban do for that? What he always does: have a detailed plan.
“We still do everything the same four hours up to the game, in terms of pre-game meal and that time on, but the pre-game meal ends up being at seven in the morning,” Saban said. “There’s not much adjustment you can do before that except maybe everyone’s got to get up a little earlier.”
Saban is helping the team’s early morning be less packed with activity by moving some functions to the Friday night before the game.
“We change around a little bit, like we usually have a church service a half-hour before a pregame meal. We’ll have that on Friday night,” Saban said. “We change the meetings a little bit, but we get everything done on Friday because when your feet hit the ground on Saturday morning you have to be ready to roll, and every player’s got to understand and know that.”
The players have handle on it.
“It’s not much, other than the 7 am wakeup call,” tight end Michael Williams said. “That’s probably the only difference. You’ve got to wake up, you get ready to play and you go into the game. And once you hit the stadium, anything about you – if you’re sleepy or anything – changes right then.
“Me personally, I like it. Get up, play hard, and get out.”
An attitude like Williams’ is going to be an attractive one to Saban on Saturday morning, one he hopes spreads throughout his team.
“It’s a little different circumstance from what they’re used to. Maturity goes a long way in how people adjust to new circumstances,” Saban said. “Hopefully our team will show the maturity that we need to start the game the way we need to, and play the way we can to improve and play a good football game.”
Williams and defensive end Quinton Dial at times will butt heads, figuratively and literally, on the practice field. But the two players on opposite sides of the ball are very similar when they are away from the football building.
“Me and him, we’re just alike,” Williams said. “We go home and we stay to ourselves. We’re around our teammates five or six hours a day so when we leave here, we like to be by ourselves.”
Williams was also aware of when Dial was in the room during his interview
“Quinton Dial is one of the greatest players to ever come around here,” Williams said to the ring of laughter of the reporters surrounding him as Dial smiled on. “That dude is humongous.
“We call him D-Bo. Have you ever seen the movie Friday? We call him D-Bo.”
Welcome to the show
Saban identified cornerback John Fulton as, “highly questionable,” for Saturday’s game against Western Carolina, opening up a spot in an already, “thin,” secondary as labeled by Saban.
True freshman Geno Smith, who saw action in clean-up duty in games such as Arkansas, was labeled as a top candidate to see some time replacing Fulton.
“Geno has made nice progress this year, and to be honest with you I wish we could have played him more,” Saban said. “He’s played some, but now that he needs to play you always sit back and wish maybe I’d have played him more somewhere along the line so he could have gotten a little more experience.
“Really in the past couple of weeks, sometimes with young guys they kind of all a sudden the light goes on and they got it, and they get it, and they start to play with confidence again and feel like they know what they’re doing, and they quick making a bunch of mistakes. That happened with Geno in the last couple of weeks. Maybe he sees a better opportunity to play, maybe that’s been a motivating factor for him, but I’ve been really pleased with his progress.”