Alabama braces for biggest test from Texas A&M
Alabama dropped 49 points on a nationally ranked team and Southeastern Conference challenger, then went out and did it again.
Now the Crimson Tide wants to keep rolling through another huge game. Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) hosts No. 6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0) Saturday in what’s not only a second straight Top 10 matchup but also a meeting with the biggest apparent threat in the Western Division.
The coaches and team leaders harp on staying grounded even after a 4910 thrashing of then-No. 9 Tennessee, which followed another road win over No. 17 Arkansas (49-30).
“They’re big on that, but we’re all like that,” tailback Damien Harris said on Monday. “None of us really think any differently just because we had two good wins. More so than anything, we just want to keep working on improving. That’s more motivation to get better each and every day at practice, finish every drive at every game, things like that.
“That’s the mentality that we’re trying to develop. We try to maintain a sense of humility because we made a lot of mistakes in both games and there’s still room for us to improve. So we try to emphasize staying humble and hungry.”
It’s hard to be humble when you’re averaging 49.5 points in four games against Top 25 teams and coming off a demolition of the SEC East front-runners. But facing the Aggies, who are coming off a bye week, in the Tide’s toughest test yet makes it a necessity.
Tide coach Nick Saban called the performance against the Volunteers probably “the most complete game we played all year,” then quickly shifts to the need for improvement.
That mentality helps explain why Alabama is 23-6 against Top 10 teams since the start of the 2010 season and riding a 19-game winning streak..
“I think the question is do you rest on your laurels or do you stay hungry to try to improve, build on the things that you did correctly and fix the ones that you didn’t?” Saban said.
No. 23 Mississippi is the only team that has really given Alabama trouble this year. The Tide won that game 48-43 but has brushed aside the competition before and since.
The most impressive statistic against the Volunteers: 438 rushing yards. Even center Bradley Bozeman was taken aback by that number when defensive end Jonathan Allen relayed it on the team bus afterward.
“I was like, ‘Holy crap. That’s a lot of yards,”’ Bozeman said.
Now, Alabama is a 16-1/2-point favorite over the Aggies. Still, Saban dismisses “outside talk” about how good Alabama is as media-fueled clutter.
“Those are external factors that I call clutter that really can affect your psychological disposition about how you need to compete in the next game, because you can get satisfied with people patting you on the back for what you did last week, then you get punched in the nose the next week,” Saban said. “So it takes a special kind of maturity and a special kind of competitor to understand that.”
NOTES: Quarterback Jalen Hurts is SEC offensive player of the week for the third time and earned freshman honors for the second time. Fellow freshman right tackle Jonah Williams is the offensive lineman of the week . ... Guard Alphonse Taylor, who missed the Tennessee game with a concussion, is “day to day” this week, Saban said.
Alabama defensive back Eddie Jackson returns a punt for a 79-yard touchdown during the second half of his team’s 49-10 win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday.