Saban previews Alabama’s annual Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a tough task ahead when his Crimson Tide go on the road to take on the Georgia Bulldogs.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team returned to practice for an hour and 15 minutes of work in shells on Monday afternoon at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields.

The Crimson Tide focused on fundamentals and corrections following Saturday’s 31-3 win over Chattanooga. Next on the schedule for the Alabama is the annual Iron Bowl game with No. 16 Auburn this Saturday, Nov. 26, in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff on CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce on the call.

The Tigers enter Saturday’s game with an 8-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn most recently defeated Alabama A&M, 55-0, last weekend to close out its non-conference slate. The Tigers are led by Gus Malzahn, who has a five-year record of 44-19, including a four-year mark of 35-16 (25-14 in SEC play) at Auburn.

Alabama and Auburn will square off for the 81st Iron Bowl matchup on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide holds a 44-35-1 advantage in a series that dates back to 1893. Alabama has had the upper hand in recent meetings, claiming six of the last eight matchups with four of those wins leading to a Crimson Tide national championship, including a 29-13 victory in Auburn last season.

Earlier on Monday, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was named one of 16 Semifinalists for The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding Division I offensive player of the year who meets one or more of the organization’s criteria. A dual-threat quarterback, Hurts has contributed 30 touchdowns and 2,971 yards of total offense, including 2,168 through the air and 803 rushing. The freshman signal-caller’s rushing yardage total is the most in Alabama single-season history for rushing yards by a quarterback.
Nick Saban met with the media on Monday afternoon. Following is his opening statement:

“Well, I think that I have no new comments from this last game. We obviously didn’t maybe play consistently at the level we wanted to or hoped to. I think at this point, the focus needs to be on learning from that experience in terms of how we can get better and also to look forward to the challenge we have ahead of us which is the legacy of the season relative to what we can accomplish, what we can do and the meaning of this game that we play against our rival in this state in the Iron Bowl. It certainly is a lot to look forward to, a lot to prepare for and a lot to get ready for. That is where our focus needs to be.

“I think this is one of the greatest rivalry games in the country. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in this state as well as nationally. For the competitors in the game, they probably enjoy this competition, this kind of rivalry as much as any game that they play.

“It is Senior Day on Saturday for us, and we have 23 seniors who have done a fantastic job here – a 48-5 record is pretty admirable – so we are looking forward to being able to honor them in their last home game in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“Auburn, I think, is an outstanding team. Gus Malzahn has done a really good job there since he’s been there, especially this year in how his team has developed and improved throughout the season. They made adjustments thought the year relative to issues that they have had on their team, whether it be injuries or whatever, but they still managed to score a lot of points. They run the ball very effectively. They have been able to make explosive plays in the passing game. Their defense is probably as good as any defense that we’ve played against all year long. They are very good up front. They have good pass rushers. They create negative plays. They play well on the back end. They are very well-coached; Kevin Steele has done a really good job with them. I think Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams are especially a handful up front. They do what they do on offense regardless of who plays quarterback, and they do that pretty effectively all year long relative to how they have been able to run the ball on people and make explosive pays in the passing game. They probably have one of the best placekickers in the country in Daniel Carlson and this is a very good team.”

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