Sa­ban tries to keep play­ers from me­dia ‘poi­son’

Doesn’t want them get­ting over­con­fi­dent

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - NEWS WIRE SER­VICES

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Af­ter pound­ing two SEC op­po­nents 125-3, Alabama needed all 60 min­utes to put away Texas A&M last Satur­day.

As you might ex­pect, coach Nick Sa­ban wasn’t happy with how the team fin­ished the 27-19 vic­tory and used the me­dia to send a mes­sage to the play­ers.

“I’m try­ing to get our play­ers to lis­ten to me in­stead of lis­ten­ing to you guys” re­porters. “All that stuff you write about how good we are, all that stuff they hear on ESPN, it’s like poi­son. It’s like tak­ing poi­son. It’s like rat poi­son,” he said.

Sa­ban’s com­ments have got­ten a lot of run this week, so one of the sto­ry­lines head­ing into this Satur­day’s home game against Arkansas (7:15, p.m., ESPN) is how well his play­ers have avoid­ing swal­low­ing the poi­son.

No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) is about a 30-point fa­vorite over Arkansas (2-3, 0-2), so it’s rea­son­able to think com­pla­cency could set in for the Crim­son Tide head­ing into its home­com­ing matchup.

Arkansas is com­ing off a 48-22 loss at South Carolina.

“You can sit here and talk about what they have not done as a team or you can say they should have beaten Texas A&M and they’re very ca­pa­ble of scor­ing a lot of points and be­ing a very good team,” Sa­ban said of the Ra­zor­backs.

“Their de­fense is a very sound and solid group that doesn’t make a lot of mis­takes, and you’ve got to work hard to ex­e­cute well to beat them. This is go­ing to be a chal­leng­ing team. It al­ways has been for us and we’re cer­tainly go­ing to pre­pare that way.”

Arkansas is av­er­ag­ing 32.6 points per game. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema typ­i­cally fields a phys­i­cal team with a strong run­ning game. The Ra­zor­backs are av­er­ag­ing 185 rush­ing yards but have been in­con­sis­tent, run­ning for 106 on 32 at­tempts against the Game­cocks.

More­over, se­nior quar­ter­back Austin Allen’s sta­tus was un­clear early in the week af­ter he suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury last week. He was able to prac­tice some Tues­day but not at 100 per­cent.

Coach Bret Bielema said Mon­day that Allen was “still in an eval­u­a­tion process.”

Backup quar­ter­back Cole Kelley, a red­shirt fresh­man, led the Ra­zor­backs on two fourth-quar­ter touch­down drives against the Game­cocks, but also threw an in­ter­cep­tion that was re­turned 45 yards for South Carolina’s fi­nal touch­down.

Bielema in­di­cated there’s no quar­ter­back con­tro­versy brew­ing for the Ra­zor­backs.

“Cole said, ‘If Austin can go, he’s our quar­ter­back,’ ” Bielema said. “I think that’s a great in­di­ca­tor of a guy be­ing in the right frame of mind.”

Re­gard­less of who’s un­der cen­ter, Bielema said the Ra­zor­backs have to get back to their run-first phi­los­o­phy.

“Of­fen­sively, we’ve got to get back to what we know how to do,” Bielema said. “When we’re not run­ning the ball ef­fec­tively, we don’t have suc­cess in any phase, and we’ve got to do that con­sis­tently.”

Pitt QB done for sea­son

Pitts­burgh quar­ter­back Max Browne un­der­went sea­son-end­ing surgery on his throw­ing shoul­der, Pan­thers coach Pat Nar­duzzi an­nounced Thurs­day.

Browne in­jured his right shoul­der dur­ing last Satur­day’s 27-24 loss to Syra­cuse.

The in­jury ends the col­lege ca­reer of the grad­u­ate trans­fer, who played at USC be­fore join­ing the Pan­thers prior to this sea­son.

“It’s not a great thing for our pro­gram, it’s not great for him, but he’s hang­ing in there and he’s good,” Nar­duzzi said of Browne.

Sopho­more Ben DiNucci will be the new starter, be­gin­ning with Satur­day’s game against North Carolina State.

Getty Im­ages

Head coach Nick Sa­ban of the Alabama Crim­son Tide is try­ing to get his play­ers to ig­nore me­dia re­ports about how good they are.

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