One of the juiciest divisional crossover games of SEC play will take place next weekend in Gainesville, Fla., as No. 11 Florida hosts No. 1 Alabama in a battle of undefeated teams. Florida has not been tested in wins over Florida Atlantic and South Florida, while Alabama put an absolute beatdown on Miami back in Week 1 and then coasted past FCS foe Mercer on Saturday in a 48-14 win.
Although Florida is replacing a lot of talent from last season — particularly on offense — the Gators should provide Alabama’s biggest test so far since this is a true road game. New Gators starting quarterback Emory Jones will have to play much better, however, after throwing one touchdown against two interceptions in each of Florida’s first two games.
At the same time, Alabama coach Nick Saban indicated that he is not satisfied with the Crimson Tide’s performance through two games. When asked about how Alabama will need to improve heading into the Florida game, Saban discussed his team’s decision-making and accountability.
“These are all choices and decisions that players make,” Saban said, via BamaOnline. “They make a decision to throw their helmet. They make a decision to grab and throw another guy on the ground. Whether it’s controlling your emotions, because when you’re emotional, you make bad decisions. So you’ve gotta play with intensity but not out of control. And we’ve gotta make better choices and decisions.
“Your question would be like somebody asking me, ‘How are you gonna get this guy to quit swinging at balls over his head in baseball?’ It’s a bad decision, it’s a bad choice. You can tell him, you can show him and eventually you play somebody else in their place, because they’re not dependable. It’s accountability. I have a job to do.
“I told the story today. Maybe we need more of this: When I was growing up, I worked for my dad. So every day at dinner, he would do that [slams his hand on the podium] to the table and there was a reckoning, a reckoning for everything that you were supposed to do that day. So if you were supposed to cut the grass — did you sweep the walk? Did you trim? Did you put the mower away? Did you clean the mower? And if you didn’t do any of those things right, you were gonna do it again. We might need a little of that somewhere along the line.”
Alabama opened as a 15-point favorite over Florida on Sunday according to Circa Sports, and Saban did give Mercer credit for getting into the end zone twice.
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“All in all, it was a good win,” Saban said. “You have to give a lot of credit to their team. It is kind of their team’s dream to play in a game like this, so they are going to play out their dream. They played hard and they played really good and they had a good plan. Their players competed their tail off in the game, and we have got to give their coach and their team a lot of credit for that. But we have to get ready and look forward to the things that we have to do to try and improve ourselves to be able to play next week at Florida. It’s an SEC game, and we are going to go from there.”