3 Nick Saban quotes on Alabama football

In case you missed it amid last week’s realignment hubbub, Nick Saban told us who will be Alabama’s starting quarterback. OK, so I’m being facetious. Saban didn’t provide a name. But he sprinkled hints Thursday following Alabama’s first preseason practice.
His remarks about the quarterback competition are among three of his quotes that linger on my brain. Let’s review the breadcrumbs:
∎ Saban on what he’s looking for in Alabama’s starting quarterback: “You’re not looking over your shoulder. You’re not looking at what somebody else does. You’re playing like you’re the man.”
In sum, Saban is saying he's seeking a starting quarterback with swagger. Confidence. Control.
Much ink was spilled in the offseason about his desire to revert Alabama’s style to something more reminiscent of the early days of his dynasty, when the Crimson Tide established supremacy thanks to their disciplined play and strength in the trenches. He’s plotting a rebirth of the run game.
However, that can be misconstrued into the idea that he wants a game-manager quarterback. And, yes, he desires one who will limit mistakes, but I think he seeks more out of his quarterback than just taking snaps and executing handoffs.
Among Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner, who has the clutch gene? Whose pulse remains level in a tight game? Who can huddle the offense in the fourth quarter, when the game is on the line, and confidently say, “We've got this, boys,” and his teammates believe it?
Alabama will have found its starting quarterback when Saban sees a display of the right combination of moxie, poise and decision-making.
∎ Saban on the mentality he’s trying to instill: “Talent is not enough, because at some point in time, you’re going to meet the person that has the same amount of talent that you do. So, if you don’t have the right mindset to go with that talent, which means you’ve got resiliency, you’ve got work ethic, you’ve got perseverance, you can overcome adversity, you’ve got discipline to pay attention to detail, do the little things right so that you can execute at a high level all the time. So, you want to take advantage and bring your talent to fruition.”
Most opponents can’t match Alabama’s talent, but I take Saban’s point to be that the Tide must develop discipline to complement its talent.
Last year’s team didn’t lack for talent — 10 Tide players were selected in the NFL draft — but it ranked among his most undisciplined teams. Alabama averaged 7.9 penalties, the most ever during the Saban era.
A lack of discipline directly contributed to the Tide’s first loss to Tennessee since 2006. Alabama was flagged 17 times in the 52-49 outcome — one of four games in which it logged double-digit penalties.
Flags weren’t the only issue contributing to Alabama missing the College Football Playoff for just the second time. Poor fundamentals popped up in other areas, too, like dropped passes.
Getting back to old-school Alabama football calls for a recommitment to discipline.
∎ Saban on Tyler Buchner: “I still think that he’s probably getting comfortable with the system. There’s some new terminology in it. And I think he’s probably still getting comfortable with the players around him, because the other guys have been with those guys a little more.”
The faulty, knee-jerk assumption after Alabama added the Notre Dame transfer following spring practice was that it had just secured its starting quarterback. He played two seasons under offensive coordinator Tommy Rees while they were with the Irish.
ANALYSIS:Here's how Ty Simpson, Jalen Milroe and Tyler Buchner look at Alabama football practice
However, the hoopla overshadowed a few realities: One, Buchner would have been Notre Dame’s backup if he had stayed there, not the starter. Two, he has thrown more career interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (six). Three, a familiarity with Rees does not equate to a familiarity with Alabama.
Milroe exited spring practice in pole position to be Alabama’s starter. Nothing indicates that has changed.
How does Milroe lock down the job?
As Saban would say, Milroe must play like he’s the man.

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