Alabama opened up Texas A&M week with Nick Saban’s Monday press conference, and the biggest news was the revelation that defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson will miss the remainder of the 2013 season.
Saban said the recovery time will likely be 4-5 months for the redshirt freshman.
“Dalvin has done everything the right way since he’s been here,” Saban said. “But it’s just something unfortunate that can happen in any sport.”
Saban spoke about the importance of this week’s game, and that games like this are what are great about college football. He said the most important thing about a game like this is staying focused to do the simple things correctly, and said that what happened in last year’s game had a lot to do with losing focus on the simple things.
Saban noted that with the weapons A&M has on offense, any mental error or lack of focus can result in a big play. He noted the yardage and points they’ve put up thus far this season.
He dismissed any talk about Texas A&M’s defense being weak, saying that it looks like a very strong defense to him and noted that Alabama struggled early on offense against that defense last year.
Coach Saban said that Alabama had a lot to prove going on the road in this game, and acknowledged that Manziel will make some plays in the game regardless of what the defense does at times. He said that you have to try and not allow him to make plays because of errors that you make.
Saban noted that last year Alabama defensive backs had receivers covered up at times, but got caught looking in the backfield to see if Manziel was scrambling to get his receivers open.
When asked about adapting to the up-tempo offense, Saban said that having to play it so often is making it easier to adapt to that style. He said that he hasn’t seen Manziel get “rattled” during games, and called him a “fierce competitor” on the field.
Much has been made about Manziel’s trash talk on the field this year and the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he drew in the opener. When asked about trash talking Saban made things very clear:
“It’s never part a of our game. There’s no circumstance where you need to talk to another player, and there has been very little of with our team. Our approach, if it’s business like, which I just said earlier is the way we’d like to approach this game. Now it’s going to be emotional, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to minimize the importance of the game by calling it business like, but with your focus and discipline that’s the way you need to approach the game so you can do your job. People that get emotional sometimes don’t make the best decisions. We need to make good decisions in this game so that we put ourselves in the best position to be successful against very good players. That part of the game I have no use for, and you’ve seen very little of that from our team. That’s not going to be our approach going into the game.”
Saban said he didn’t know that Alabama had any that could properly “spy” Manziel in the game, but that C.J. Mosley would likely be that person if they go that route.
Senior quarterback AJ McCarron also spoke to the media today and showed frustration towards the media for repeated questions about his friendship with Johnny Manziel. McCarron said his relationship Manziel has been overblown by the media.
“We’re just friends guys,” McCarron said. “Y’all make it a lot bigger than it needs to be.” McCarron also refused to make any comments about Manziel’s controversies in the off season.
McCarron said that the offense couldn’t have negative plays, and that he felt the negative things that happened in the opener were due to errors by the Alabama offense.
McCarron praised Texas A&M’s defense for their ability to stand a player up on a tackle and trying to strip the ball. He said that they looked “solid all around” to him. He said that he feels like the offensive line has been playing in practice “with a chip on their shoulder” and doing a much better job at communicating.
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The usually quiet Amari Cooper also spoke to the media, and had an interesting take on this upcoming Texas A&M being a “revenge game.”
Cooper said that it can’t be a revenge game to him, because this Alabama team didn’t lose to Texas A&M; the 2012 team did.
“If you fight someone, you don’t get revenge by fighting someone else,” Cooper said.
Cooper was asked whether Alabama felt the need “to put Johnny Manziel in his place,” and act as the “good guy” in this game. Cooper simply shrugged it off.
• It seems true freshman Jonathan Allen will be taking Dalvin Tomlinson’s spot in the defensive line rotation behind starter Jeoffrey Pagan. A’Shawn Robinson will likely get looks there as well.
• Tight end Brian Vogler has a soft cast on his left hand but he was a full participant in practice. It could affect his ability to catch passes though.
• Walk-on safety Jai Miller is among a group of players that will be simulating Texas A&M safety Floyd Raven on the scout team, but it’s unclear whether Raven will play or not after injuring his collarbone in A&M’s win over Sam Houston State this past Saturday.
• Both freshmen running backs Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones continue to wear scout team jerseys this week.
• Alabama announced today that the 2013 home opener against former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain’s Colorado State on September 21st will kickoff at 6 PM (central) on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.