The Alabama football mindset through the Western Carolina game will play a major role in being mentally prepared for the Iron Bowl on the Plains.
Since the LSU game, Nick Saban has been busy reminding his Alabama football team about the Alabama Factor. The ‘Alabama Factor’ has been a Saban theme going way back but Nick has particularly focused on it since the loss to Clemson.
One upside of the loss to the Bengal Tigers is young and less mature players who were not listening carefully to Saban before, have a new motivation to pay attention. Given the Crimson Tide must win out and do so convincingly this week and the next should be strong incentive.
It would be easy for any team following a big loss to give in to human weaknesses. A tad less focus in meetings, taking it easy on some reps, not pushing hard to get better – the slope of inattention is slippery. Nick Saban and the Alabama football staff will counter with strong demands for constant commitment.
If the team did not need reminding about the Alabama Factor, it would not come up so often. The serious, all bought-in guys already know exactly what it is. Last spring, rising junior offensive lineman, Jedrick Wills said he has been hearing about since he was a recruit. Wills had no problem explaining it.
Commitment, discipline, effort, toughness, pride and then developing yourself to be relentless for 60 minutes in the ballgame. And then another big thing this year is discipline outside of football, like in the classroom, just walking around the community, things like that…Just don’t want to create any bad habits like we did last year.
With so many freshmen in starting roles this season, shedding bad habits is just one problem. The other issue is learning the correct habits. Nick Saban said this week,
I think we’ve had a lot of adversity to overcome this season from a personnel standpoint, especially at critical positions, whether they’re signal caller positions on defense or whatever. We’ve had to play a lot of young players who they don’t even know what the Bama Factor is. They’re just learning how to do that… and we have a lot of young players that it’s been a little more challenging for.
For those who have not understood or fully bought in, to the Alabama Factor, Sunday of Iron Bowl week is too late. The time is now and the urgency is great. How the Crimson Tide performs over the next 10 days will determine the post-season future. Any Iron Bowl win will be sufficient. Against Mississippi State and Western Carolina, the Crimson Tide must allow no doubt to creep in for those whose ‘eye ball’ tests will determine the Tide’s Playoff fate.
Another descriptive phrase from Saban is “not wasting a failure.” What he is trying to get young men to embrace is wanting to win a championship is useless until an unwavering commitment is made to prepare to be a champion. Old-timers will remember Bear Bryant had almost exactly the same message.