TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- From all accounts, Alabama had a productive week of practice. The majority of injured players who sat out against Colorado State will be ready for Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, and the communication issues that apparently plagued the offense in Week 1 and last week have been sorted.
During his final press conference before the Ole Miss game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban focused heavily on positive energy and enthusiasm this week in practice, and seemed to make it clear for fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium to be excited and loud, but also supportive and positive.
“What everyone needs is positive energy and to be excited about the opportunity that this team has,” Saban said. “[This team] has to create their own identity with what they do and how they play, their own personality, their own chemistry. They need to be supported.
“And everybody doesn't just need to sit around and say ‘Wow, what's wrong with these guys?’ They need a lot of positive energy around them, and we need to give them positive reinforcement so we can develop and grow and be excited about the future.”
And positive energy comes from quality team leadership.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley told the media on Tuesday that he spoke to the team after their dissatisfying win over Colorado State last week.
“I was pretty upset, especially with the defense,” Mosley said. “The things we gave up were mental errors, just little things, fundamental errors.”
After Mosley spoke to the team, quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker Vinnie Sunseri followed, saying the team had to communicate better, and execute to their abilities.
“[McCarron and Sunseri] kind of just fed off what I said, just saying we've got to step it up,” Mosley said. “We've got to know what it takes basically to win these types of games that are coming up.”
Screaming coaches can only do so much in terms of getting their message across. Sometimes players speaking to other players has more of an impact. Saban lauded Mosley, McCarron and Sunseri on taking control of the locker room and getting the team’s focus back to normal.
“Experience helps lead people through difficult times,” Saban said. “We all have them, and it’s good to see the older players on the team step up, C.J, AJ. I think it’s important that we have that kind of leadership.
“There's some people that need to be led. Sheep need to have a dog get them home to the barn at night. There's all kinds of folks. Well, leadership I think is important to affecting a lot of those people.”
Other than the team having a positive disposition, Saban wants the fans to be supportive while they solidify their identity.
“When we play a team that goes no-huddle, the more excitement we can create in Bryant-Denny Stadium with our positive energy and enthusiasm, the more it’s going to help our players,” Saban said. “It helps the players when the fans are excited and cheer well.”
For the coach that is never appeased, never content, Saban was uncharacteristically - to use an already overused word - positive on Wednesday night. It was as if “the Process” had left the halls of the football facility and found a place in the minds of the fans, and it had gone too far. A fan base that is so accustomed to winning sees a 25-point win in which the offense looks sluggish as a disappointment. And Saban seems to be imploring the fans to hold back and let this year’s team figure out its own identity, instead of being held to the same standard as its predecessors.