Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Saban, team not overlooking Kentucky Hilltoppers


Despite Alabama’s dominant performance over the Michigan Wolverines Saturday, head coach Nick Saban is stressing to his team not to buy into the hype or look past the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

“There’s a tremendous balance between humility and confidence, and this game is a struggle,” Saban said. “It’s a struggle every day. It’s work every day around here, to keep our guys on track, to have a little bit of humility and confidence.”

Saban stressed that point even in the past when his teams played against opponents in neutral site games and his team didn’t perform up to standards the next week. The first time it happened, in 2008, Alabama struggled to a 20-6 win against Tulane after demolishing Clemson 34-10.

The next year, Alabama beat Virginia Tech 34-24 and followed up with a 40-14 win over Florida International, giving up 204 yards of offense and committing seven penalties for 65 yards. Saban’s message seems to have hit home for his players, including sophomore receiver DeAndrew White, who scored a 51-yard touchdown reception against Michigan.

White said Saban has kept his team focused on improving and facing the Hilltoppers, rather than coasting to a win.

“Coach has been on us [in practice],” White said. “Pushing us, pushing us to get better, not to overlook anybody and keep on pushing forward … For us, we take it one game a time and look forward to the next game we have in store.”

Mandell continuing to improve

Junior punter Cody Mandell, like most of his team, is trying to avoid becoming complacent and working to become better at his position. Mandell punted four times for an average of 47 yards per punt.

Still, he had three punts over 50 yards, with the other being downed at the Michigan 2-yard line. Mandell attributed his growth as a punter to the work he put in over the summer.

“Over the offseason, I really worked on technique and my form,” Mandell said. “And just hitting all the little things right. I’m just working every day to get a little bit better, and I worked with a lot of coaches over this summer to work on my technique, and my technique has just shown in the game.”

Saban noticed Mandell’s growth and consistency in the game as well. Saban said he was pleased not only with Mandell’s in-game consistency, but his consistency in practice also.

“Everything we saw, good or bad, we saw in practice,” Saban said. “So Cody’s been practicing very, very well … He’s punting better in practice, he’s punting better in the game.”

Lester: leadership not just for older guys

Robert Lester has been taking Saban’s message of constantly improving to heart this week. Lester said the defense, particularly the secondary, is avoiding overlooking a complicated Hilltopper offensive scheme.

“They’re a very intelligent offense,” Lester said. “They run a lot of shifts and motions, and you’ve got to be on your Ps and Qs to be ready for it. They do a lot of things to get our guys out of position.”

As part of the secondary’s preparation for the Hilltoppers, Lester said the defense was practicing as hard as possible against the scout team Wednesday. Still, Lester said he hasn’t had trouble keeping the younger guys in the secondary from working hard.

“We take it upon ourselves for everybody to work hard,” Lester said. “There might be something 10 of the other guys might not see, and you might see it, and you’re a freshman, and we expect you to call it out.”

Injury Update

Everyone practiced Wednesday, except freshman linebacker Reggie Ragland. Saban listed Ragland as “the most questionable player” for Saturday’s game.

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