Alabama tries to prevent national title let down
by LAVONTE YOUNG
Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed members of the media in Hoover Thursday. Brian Schoenhals
HOOVER - In 2010 Alabama head coach Nick Saban stressed to his team the importance of not being complacent after winning the national championship in 2009, but the message didn’t get through. After struggling in 2010, the Tide seniors don’t want to experience the same disappointment again.

“The message is the same,” Outland Trophy award winner Barrett Jones said Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover. “I think the difference was the first time, Coach Saban said ‘No Complacency’ and we talked about it and said it to each other, but for some reason we just didn’t buy into it.

“This year, it’s starts with the older guys talking to the younger guys. It’s not going to sneak up on us this year. We know that we have to, if anything, work harder this year than we did last year. We have a lot of guys from that 2010 season, and we all had a bad feeling from that season and we don’t want to feel it again.”

Pre-season All-SEC member Michael Williams said the senior leaders have to prevent a letdown like they had in 2010.

“Most of us were here in 2010 and we saw what can happen, what complacency did to us,” Williams said. “We are very imminent to not let that happen to this year’s team.’

Saban said this year’s team is not trying to live off of last season’s team; they want to have their own identity.

“We have had a really good off-season with our team,” Saban said. “This team seems to be less affected by the previous year, what has happened in the previous year. They’re not the 2010 team; they’re not really the 2011 team. There’s a lot of players on this team that this is the opportunity for them and their season. We have guys on our team that have been on both of those past teams.”

The Tide lost 13 starters from the national championship team last year, including first round picks Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron and Courtney Upshaw.

“It’s really, really difficult in college football to carry momentum from one season to the next,” Saban said. “That’s an understatement for us. We lost 13 starters from our team last year, and the new 25 percent you bring to your team, they don’t have knowledge and experience; they haven’t played. They are young players. Maybe talented players, but they are young.”

Alabama will be tested early as they open the season against the Michigan Wolverines in Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. Saban said games like this give the football program national exposure.

“We’ve had a lot of national exposure that has really enhanced the development of program, especially in the early years by playing neutral site games against very good national competition,” Saban said. “It was Florida State in Jacksonville our first game, Clemson in Atlanta or Virginia in Atlanta, Penn State home and home the last couple of years. Now the opportunity to come play Michigan in Dallas and we’re going to come back to Atlanta and play Virginia Tech and West Virginia in the next two years. These are the kind of games we look at for national exposure.”

Defensive lineman Damien Square is elated about opening the season in his home state of Texas.

“I’m born and raised in Texas, so this is a great way to open my senior year,” he said. “To go play in Jerry’s house and play a great team like Michigan. There is no better way to start the season, so I am looking forward to it.”

Michael Williams knows the Crimson Tide is going to get everybody’s best shot week in and week out, starting with Michigan.

“We always feel like we have a target on our backs,” Williams said. “It is not up to us who’s No.1 and No.2. It is up to us to do the work and play the games. We like our chances if we do things right.”

Saban knows when the season kicks off on Sept. 1 nothing is going to be given to his football team; they must earn it.

“Things don’t happen by accident,” Saban said. “You don’t win games by accident. You don’t win the division by accident. You make it happen by what you do every day.”

© 2012