Mac Jones throws an interception on the game’s first play, then comes back to throw four touchdowns in Alabama Georgia’s 41-24 win (2:01)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala – It should have been known from the start that Nick Saban wasn’t going to miss a day’s work.He always appeared more machine than man during his time in the public eye – a creature of routine and process that had barely done worse than sniffing in its six national championship races He had hip replacement surgery last year and the day after he went under the knife his wife found him standing in the aisle, anxious to get back to the office
No, Nicholas Lou Saban was not going to miss a football game, and especially not a game of the magnitude of Saturday night At home, against No 3 Georgia and his coach, Kirby Smart, Saban would find a way to make it to Bryant-Denny Stadium He tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and three days later had all three negative tests he needed to get back to action He caught a fair state soldier after the third test, and within 30 minutes, he was at the team hotel for the pre-match meetings
And later that night, after Saban led his team onto the pitch to thunderous applause, he did what he always has, beating a former assistant for the 22nd consecutive time in his career. After a poor start in which their defense struggled with a number of unusual mistakes, Alabama found their balance and ended up convincingly beating Georgia, 41-24, to remain the only undefeated team in the SEC.
It didn’t take long to know that Saban was feeling like himself again as he tore up first-year linebacker Will Anderson after a touchdown in the first quarter and screamed bloody murder at an umpire after a call to intentional grounding a few minutes later When a defensive lineman jumped offside in fourth and 1, triggering an automatic first try, Saban was absolutely beside himself, putting both hands up as if to ask why
At halftime, the adjustments made by Saban and his assistants worked, as the defense went from a lost appearance to full control After forcing back-to-back kicks, first-year nickel half-back Malachi Moore picked Stetson Bennett, and half-back Najee Harris gladly traded the turnaround for seven points and a double-digit lead. Then, moments more security Daniel Wright pushed Bennett back and, again, the attack did the rest, as Mac Jones continued his campaign for the Heisman Trophy with a fourth touchdown pass, really putting the game to bed
Security DeMarcco Hellams said the defense wanted to make a statement in the second half He said Saban stressed it was going to be a 15-round fight and end the game And they did, dropping zero points in the third and fourth quarters
No, it wasn’t Saban who pushed Jalen Hurts in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, but it was still a turnaround at halftime What if Saban wasn’t there, if he hadn’t cleared the COVID-19 protocol with hours to spare and was watching TV like the rest of the country, who knows if Alabama gets it right?
No disrespect for Steve Sarkisian, who called a brilliant game as offensive coordinator, but it’s not Nick Saban No one can fill these shoes
Subsequently, when Saban spoke to reporters, he didn’t dwell on an unstable first half or any imperfections there might have been. Instead, he said it was an « obvious big win » and that he was proud of his team’s fight.
Above all, he was proud of the way his players handled the distraction of his absence when he was not on the training ground on Friday, when his straw hat was so clearly missing, a source told ESPN that it was weird and that it sounded like an episode of « The Twilight Zone »
Saban appeared to be in good health during his Wednesday press conference and radio show the following night, but for three days the college football world was obsessed with Saban’s condition and his possibility of returning
Saban tried to prepare his players for either eventuality He told them he hadn’t caught a pass or tackled in 40 years, so what did he do to them? served during a game anyway? From afar he tried to keep them focused on the task at hand
When Saban showed up at the team hotel before kick-off, players weren’t prepared Jones said the reaction « was pretty crazy » when Saban walked into the hall. unannounced shift
Senior linebacker Dylan Moses said Saban was there for the tours brought extra energy to everyone Seeing Saban walk through the door he said: « Our confidence went through the roof »
And that, perhaps more than any in-game adjustment or half-time speech, is the real value of having Saban on the sidelines: the confidence his presence brings. For 14 seasons now, he’s been a part of Alabama Turns out even a positive COVID-19 test can’t stop it from showing up
Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Southeastern Conference, Georgia Bulldogs Football
World News – US – “Our Confidence Has Exploded”: Nick Saban comes back and Bama rolls
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