Preview: No. 1 Alabama prepares to host Johnny Football, A&M - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Preview: No. 1 Alabama prepares to host Johnny Football, No. 15 Texas A&M

Posted: Updated:
Running back Christian Michael (left) and quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel (right) lead a potent offensive attack for the Texas A&M Aggies. (abc3340.com) Running back Christian Michael (left) and quarterback Johnny "Football" Manziel (right) lead a potent offensive attack for the Texas A&M Aggies. (abc3340.com)
Johnny Football is right in the thick of the Heisman race with his 31 total touchdowns in 2012. (abc3340.com) Johnny Football is right in the thick of the Heisman race with his 31 total touchdowns in 2012. (abc3340.com)
Manziel dives for a touchdown in the Aggies' victory over Auburn in October. (abc3340.com) Manziel dives for a touchdown in the Aggies' victory over Auburn in October. (abc3340.com)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Nick Saban doesn't waive his 24-hour celebration rule even after dramatic, last-minute wins that rescue No. 1 Alabama's hopes for a national title.

Maybe especially after them.

The Crimson Tide coach quickly cautioned his players not to let the emotions of last Saturday's 21-17 victory at then-No. 5 LSU overshadow the next big challenge. There's little time to celebrate when No. 15 Texas A&M's high-flying offense is coming to town Saturday.

"We've got to forget about this last game," Saban said on Monday. "We've got to move on. I told the players that right after the game. I think they have a lot of respect for this team. It'd be pretty difficult not to respect this team based on their body of work and what they've accomplished this season."

The Aggies (7-2, 4-2 SEC), who average 44.7 points and 559.6 yards, appear to represent the last real obstacle between the Tide and a perfect regular season, barring a gargantuan upset. A win sends Alabama (9-0, 6-0) into the SEC championship game against either No. 5 Georgia or No. 7 Florida.

After this one, Bama faces FCS Western Carolina (1-9) and struggling rival Auburn (2-7). To win the West, Saban's team needs only to win one more SEC game. To compete for the national title, it probably needs to win out.

The Tide offense was sputtering badly until AJ McCarron led the team down the field before lofting a screen pass that T.J. Yeldon turned into a 28-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left. And Alabama had survived its first significant threat of the season.

Saban said games like that LSU "can bring out either the best in you or the worst in you. It's all your choice."

Linebacker C.J. Mosley said sticking to the rule of one day to savor a wins before moving on was no big deal.

"It wasn't hard at all," Mosley said. "We have a goal, we have a mission that we have to do every week and it's our job to get past that game and move on to the next team."

Saban makes it easier to refocus by pointedly declaring it "by far" the team's worst defensive performance of the season. Alabama allowed 475 yards, the most since Saban's first season in 2007.

The Tide also pulled out a game that seemed to be slipping away during the 2009 national title run.

Massive nose tackle Terrence Cody blocked two low fourth-quarter field goal attempts to preserve a 12-10 win over Tennessee and keep the perfect season going. Last season, the Tide won every game by at least 16 points except for a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU.

Defensive end Damion Square was asked if Alabama needed such a test after trailing for all of 15 seconds in the first eight games.

"I don't think you ever need a game like that, but you know they come," Square said. "I've been playing college football for a while and every year we have one like that. You never know when it's going to show up, but coach always says to practice your best so when your best is needed, you can bring it out. And our best was needed and we brought it out."

The challenge is far different this week. Texas A&M brings quarterback Johnny Manziel and a no-huddle offense of the sort that Saban wondered aloud in October: "Is this what we want football to be?"

That came after the Tide had played Mississippi, which also employs a fast-paced style. Saban's reasoning was that it limited substitution by a defense and created potential safety issues for players.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin later retorted that he was just playing by the rules.

Asked about the comments Monday, Saban bristled.

"I think everybody misinterpreted what I said about no-huddle," he said. "I don't mind playing against no-huddle. We don't mind that at all. That wasn't what I said, it's what you all interpreted it to be. I just asked the question, Is this what we want the game to become? That's for you to answer. But that doesn't mean we don't like playing against it. We don't mind playing against it. It is what it is."

The Aggies' quick-tempo offense ran 97 plays and amassed 693 yards, gaining 361 on the ground and 332 through the air, in last Saturday's 38-13 win over then-No. 15 Mississippi State. It was the fifth time this season Texas A&M racked up at least 600 yards.

Manziel completed 30 of 36 passes for 311 yards and ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies, who improved to 5-0 on the road. The freshman has now totaled 31 touchdowns and is averaging 383.2 yards of total offense, better than 47 FBS teams.

"We're lucky to have him," running back Ben Malena said. "The play is never over. You've got to stay in the play and try to help him out any way you can."

The Tide appear healthy going into their first meeting with Texas A&M since 1988, though Saban said tailback Eddie Lacy would miss a day of practice to rest an ankle injury sustained against LSU.

He said leading wide receiver Amari Cooper didn't re-injure an ankle in the game but was "just a little sore" and shouldn't miss practice. Cooper didn't play in the second half.

"He's going to be able to practice and be ready to go this week," Saban said.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:08 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:08:05 GMT
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
  • Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:59 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:59:47 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
  • Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:54:01 GMT
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Birmingham Public Library reducing hours due to AC damage caused by extreme cold earlier this year

    Birmingham Public Library reducing hours due to AC damage caused by extreme cold earlier this year

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:50:59 GMT
    The mercury is rising, but the air conditioner at the main Birmingham Public Library is broken. That led the library to reduce hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library's main air handler. Parts have been ordered, and repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive. Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., Mond...More >>
    The mercury is rising, but the air conditioner at the main Birmingham Public Library is broken. That led the library to reduce hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library's main air handler. Parts have been ordered, and repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive. Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., Mond...More >>
  • Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:10:24 GMT
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
  • ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:28 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:28:29 GMT
    ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • National Take-Back Day scheduled for Saturday

    National Take-Back Day scheduled for Saturday

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:27:03 GMT
    Do you have any unused medication you would like to discard? You will have an opportunity on Saturday, April 26, 2014.More >>
    Do you have any unused medication you would like to discard? You will have an opportunity on Saturday, April 26, 2014.
    More >>
  • New home sales down even in the South

    New home sales down even in the South

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:17 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:17:30 GMT
    Spring often is the best time of year to buy or sell a house. Families ready to relocate begin the hunt for a home.The winter weather is past and builders are increasing inventory. This Spring is atypical: the housing market now is fighting off a difficult, long winter, mortgage rates are climbing, and there is a shortage of properties.The Commerce Department's March figures show sales of new U.S. single-family houses fell to their lowest level in eight months. Compared to March last year, sa...More >>
    Spring often is the best time of year to buy or sell a house. Families ready to relocate begin the hunt for a home.The winter weather is past and builders are increasing inventory. This Spring is atypical: the housing market now is fighting off a difficult, long winter, mortgage rates are climbing, and there is a shortage of properties.The Commerce Department's March figures show sales of new U.S. single-family houses fell to their lowest level in eight months. Compared to March last year, sa...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa police make arrest in kidnapping and robbery

    Tuscaloosa police make arrest in kidnapping and robbery

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:11 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:11:43 GMT
    Tuscaloosa police arrest one man and they are still searching for another.More >>
    Tuscaloosa police arrest one man and they are still searching for another.More >>
  • More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:08 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:08:05 GMT
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
  • Birmingham Public Library reducing hours due to AC damage caused by extreme cold earlier this year

    Birmingham Public Library reducing hours due to AC damage caused by extreme cold earlier this year

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:50:59 GMT
    The mercury is rising, but the air conditioner at the main Birmingham Public Library is broken. That led the library to reduce hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library's main air handler. Parts have been ordered, and repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive. Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., Mond...More >>
    The mercury is rising, but the air conditioner at the main Birmingham Public Library is broken. That led the library to reduce hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library's main air handler. Parts have been ordered, and repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive. Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., Mond...More >>
  • Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:31:06 GMT
    Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.More >>
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.
    More >>
  • Alabama State Bar to Host Free Legal Clinic in Tuscaloosa

    Alabama State Bar to Host Free Legal Clinic in Tuscaloosa

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:17 AM EDT2014-04-23 14:17:09 GMT
    The Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, working in cooperation with the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association and the University of Alabama School of Law, will host a free legal clinic for low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County. The clinic is open to the more than 40,000 low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County coping civil legal challenges. The clinic's lawyers are experienced in various areas of the law and will be available to answer questions in the areas of divorce/custody/visit...More >>
    The Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, working in cooperation with the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association and the University of Alabama School of Law, will host a free legal clinic for low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County. The clinic is open to the more than 40,000 low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County coping civil legal challenges. The clinic's lawyers are experienced in various areas of the law and will be available to answer questions in the areas of divorce/custody/visit...More >>
  • Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:10:24 GMT
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>