Tide quarterback AJ McCarron attributed the team’s performance against Colorado State to lack of communication and, coaches and players have seemingly made it priority No. 1 during preparation for a showdown with Ole Miss on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.
“We’ve got a lot of guys over-emphasizing on communication,” tight end Brian Vogler said. “For the offense, that was a big thing for us. So, we’re really trying to over-emphasize that. Even if we’re yelling calls and the defense starts catching on to what we’re doing, at least we’re on the same page as a unit.”
A lot of the communication issues begin with the offensive line. If a call isn’t communicated properly, assignments are missed and technique appears to be off.
“That’s one of the big things that coach has been preaching to us last week and probably this week, too,” Tide center Ryan Kelly said. “When the offense everyone knows what they’re doing, we’re hard to beat. But I think it showed against Colorado State sometimes when we don’t communicate all the time there are errors in there, and if one guys messes up and didn’t get a call or didn't make a call, it can have a serious impact on the offense. But when we’re all together and we practice that during the week, I think we’re hard to beat.”
Tide coach Nick Saban said having back right guard Anthony Steen with his “experience certainly will help” the right side of the line.
Steen missed the Colorado State game because of injury and was replaced by fifth-year senior Kellen Williams.
“We’ve had three games so we certainly need to improve,” Saban said. “Players have got to have a grasp of what they need to do to play well together. And we’ve just got to do a better job in preparation.”
Saban wants players to focus on the “main event” and block out all the “clutter" and “everything that’s going on outside that has to get out of your mind.”
“You’ve got to make it simple in terms of what I need to do to prepare well from an assignment standpoint, a technique standpoint, from a repetition standpoint so that I can go execute more effectively in the game,” Saban said. “At times we’ve done that and at times we haven’t. That’s the consistency in performance that we’re talking about.”
The intensity level went up a few notches in practice this week as coaches have pushed players harder and harder with each passing day.
“Everybody is just up and talking, getting plays down, talking to each other, telling everybody what to do,” running back Jalston Fowler. “I think it’s got a lot better. It’s a team thing. You just tell each other the in the meetings that we need to communicate more and get focused on the task at hand.”
Added Saban: “I think we’ve practiced better and I think there’s better awareness. But again, it's not every now and then, it’s (about being) consistent. This is what’s necessary to play well together all the time. It’s necessary. I can’t just think about what I’ve got to do because I have to do it with other people.”