Saban: Tide defense felt always ‘one play behind’

  • Covers the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of Auburn University.

Alabama coach Nick Saban on Monday sought to clarify the comments he made after Saturday’s 63-48 win over Ole Miss in which he said it felt as if the Rebels, who racked up 647 yards of offense, had figured out their defensive signals.

Saban told reporters during his regular weekly news conference on Monday that what he was referring to after the game was a feeling that his defense was always one play behind.

“Some of that is our issue in terms of how we disguise things,” he said. “They were going fast. We were struggling to get lined up and we didn’t do a very good job of disguising things. So they were able to take advantage of a lot of situations.

“They know us well, so all those things contributed to me feeling a little bit like we were one play behind.”

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin spent three seasons as Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014 to ’16.

On Monday, Kiffin responded to Saban’s comments, saying that he never knew the Tide’s signals during his time in Tuscaloosa and that going as fast as they do offensively doesn’t allow the time necessary to steal signals in the first place.

“We call a play basically before the last play is even over. Before they mark the ball, we call our play,” he said. “Then they scramble to get their play called. They’re just trying to get their guys lined up. It wouldn’t do us any good. By the time someone would relay that to us, we’re already snapping the ball.”

Ole Miss’ 48 points was the most No. 2 Alabama had allowed to an unranked opponent in the AP era (since 1936).

However, on Monday, Saban took up for defensive coordinator Pete Golding in saying, “I don’t think the call is necessarily the issue. I think the execution of the call has been the issue.

“The only mistake that would be is that we don’t learn from the mistakes that we made so that we can get better in the future, work harder at making corrections and get everybody to be responsible to do their job a little bit better, coaches and players included,” Saban said. “That’s the way we can improve.”

No. 2 Alabama won’t get a break this week when it hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday.

Saban called the Bulldogs “probably one of the best teams in the country” with “probably the best defensive team in the country all the way around.”

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