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>>

  • Moody High School students mourn death of classmate

    Moody High School students mourn death of classmate

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-08-19 19:51:03 GMT
    Students at Moody High School are mourning the loss of their classmate. 16-year-old Jonathan Harris, a sophomore died Monday night from injuries sustained in a weekend rollover accident on Roberts Mill Pond Road in Pell City. Students wore blue on Tuesday, the school color of Moody High School, the same color he wore on the football field and on the wrestling mat. "Jonathan was always one of those kids who had a smile on his face. You would never catch him frowning or in a bad mood. He was ...More >>
    Students at Moody High School are mourning the loss of their classmate. 16-year-old Jonathan Harris, a sophomore died Monday night from injuries sustained in a weekend rollover accident on Roberts Mill Pond Road in Pell City. Students wore blue on Tuesday, the school color of Moody High School, the same color he wore on the football field and on the wrestling mat. "Jonathan was always one of those kids who had a smile on his face. You would never catch him frowning or in a bad mood. He was ...More >>
  • Alabama alligator hunter demolishes state record with 15-foot, 1000-pound gator

    Alabama alligator hunter demolishes state record with 15-foot, 1000-pound gator

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 12:35 PM EDT2014-08-19 16:35:24 GMT
    A family battled a 1,000-pound alligator for more than five hours, putting several large hooks into the beast before firing a fatal shotgun blast into the gator's head.More >>
    A family battled a 1,000-pound alligator for more than five hours, putting several large hooks into the beast before firing a fatal shotgun blast into the gator's head.
    More >>
  • Essential oils not allowed to be kept in JeffCo schools

    Essential oils not allowed to be kept in JeffCo schools

    Monday, August 18 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-08-18 21:02:48 GMT
    The latest item to hit school ban lists are essential oils. Parents say these plant oils help their children suffering from seemingly most ailments from asthma to allergies. Jefferson County schools will not allow school nurses to administer them. Students cannot even keep them in lockers.More >>
    The latest item to hit school ban lists are essential oils. Parents say these plant oils help their children suffering from seemingly most ailments from asthma to allergies. Jefferson County schools will not allow school nurses to administer them. Students cannot even keep them in lockers.
    More >>
  • Auburn University SportsMore>>

  • Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:32:07 GMT
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
  • Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson says Nick Marshall will win Heisman Trophy in 2014

    Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson says Nick Marshall will win Heisman Trophy in 2014

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:52 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:52:14 GMT
    Auburn's backup quarterback predicts Nick Marshall will win the Heisman Trophy this season.More >>
    Auburn's backup quarterback predicts Nick Marshall will win the Heisman Trophy this season.More >>
  • BALLOT BREAKDOWN: FSU No. 1 in AP preseason poll

    BALLOT BREAKDOWN: FSU No. 1 in AP preseason poll

    Monday, August 18 2014 4:24 PM EDT2014-08-18 20:24:03 GMT
    By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer The Associated Press preseason Top 25 is out. Take a look at how the ballots break down, and find out what to watch for when the college football...More >>
    By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer The Associated Press preseason Top 25 is out. Take a look at how the ballots break down, and find out what to watch for when the college football season begins...More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Local SportsMore>>

  • Carl Edwards to join JGR in 2015

    Carl Edwards to join JGR in 2015

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-08-20 03:08:24 GMT
    NASCAR's hottest free agent is off the board. Carl Edwards was introduced as the newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team on Tuesday."It means the world to me to have this opportunity and to be a part of this organization," Edwards said. "It'll be nice to finally talk about this."Rumor linked Edwards to JGR ever since he announced last month that he was ending his ten year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing.Edwards will drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. It's the fourth piece to an impr...More >>
    NASCAR's hottest free agent is off the board. Carl Edwards was introduced as the newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team on Tuesday."It means the world to me to have this opportunity and to be a part of this organization," Edwards said. "It'll be nice to finally talk about this."Rumor linked Edwards to JGR ever since he announced last month that he was ending his ten year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing.Edwards will drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. It's the fourth piece to an impr...More >>
  • Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:32:07 GMT
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
  • WATCH: Nick Saban, Alabama football team complete Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

    WATCH: Nick Saban, Alabama football team complete Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:58 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:58:10 GMT
    You know Nick Saban would never back down from a challenge, especially one that's for such a worthy cause.More >>
    You know Nick Saban would never back down from a challenge, especially one that's for such a worthy cause.More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Vulcan Park and Museum to host 10th concert series

    Vulcan Park and Museum to host 10th concert series

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:47 AM EDT2014-08-20 12:47:46 GMT
    Vulcan Park and Museum plans to offer the Vulcan® AfterTunes Concert Series on September 28, October 12 and October 26, 2014. More >>
    Vulcan Park and Museum plans to offer the Vulcan® AfterTunes Concert Series on September 28, October 12 and October 26, 2014. More >>
  • Firefighters battle house fire in Ensley

    Firefighters battle house fire in Ensley

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:12 AM EDT2014-08-20 12:12:44 GMT
    Birmingham Fire and Rescue is battling a house fire in the 2600 block of Ave S in Ensley.More >>
    Birmingham Fire and Rescue is battling a house fire in the 2600 block of Ave S in Ensley.More >>
  • Civil rights icon believes protesters in Ferguson, MO can learn from Birmingham

    Civil rights icon believes protesters in Ferguson, MO can learn from Birmingham

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:50 PM EDT2014-08-20 03:50:00 GMT
    People in the Magic City are holding protests and expressing concern for the situation in Missouri. Sarah Snyder spoke with a local civil rights icon - who hopes Birmingham can be an example to people in Ferguson. More >>
    People in the Magic City are holding protests and expressing concern for the situation in Missouri. Sarah Snyder spoke with a local civil rights icon - who hopes Birmingham can be an example to people in Ferguson. More >>
  • Carl Edwards to join JGR in 2015

    Carl Edwards to join JGR in 2015

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:08 PM EDT2014-08-20 03:08:24 GMT
    NASCAR's hottest free agent is off the board. Carl Edwards was introduced as the newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team on Tuesday."It means the world to me to have this opportunity and to be a part of this organization," Edwards said. "It'll be nice to finally talk about this."Rumor linked Edwards to JGR ever since he announced last month that he was ending his ten year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing.Edwards will drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. It's the fourth piece to an impr...More >>
    NASCAR's hottest free agent is off the board. Carl Edwards was introduced as the newest member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team on Tuesday."It means the world to me to have this opportunity and to be a part of this organization," Edwards said. "It'll be nice to finally talk about this."Rumor linked Edwards to JGR ever since he announced last month that he was ending his ten year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing.Edwards will drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. It's the fourth piece to an impr...More >>
  • Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Auburn's Patrick Young could miss season with knee injury

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:32:07 GMT
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
    Auburn's H-back position has taken an injury hit for the second consecutive week.Patrick Young suffered a serious knee injury last week, and he may not be available to play at all in 2014."Patrick Young, that was kind of a tough deal," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Patrick Young hurt his knee, a senior walk-on, a guy's that's really been phenomenal for our program and finally was in a spot where he was going to get a chance to help us." Malzahn announced last week that H-back Gage Batten is...More >>
  • WATCH: Nick Saban, Alabama football team complete Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

    WATCH: Nick Saban, Alabama football team complete Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:58 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:58:10 GMT
    You know Nick Saban would never back down from a challenge, especially one that's for such a worthy cause.More >>
    You know Nick Saban would never back down from a challenge, especially one that's for such a worthy cause.More >>
  • 2 killed in helicopter crash in Tuscaloosa County (update)

    2 killed in helicopter crash in Tuscaloosa County (update)

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:15 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:15:41 GMT
    One of the two people killed in a helicopter crash in Tuscaloosa County was an Alabama Power employee, a company spokesperson confirmed to ABC 33/40.More >>
    One of the two people killed in a helicopter crash in Tuscaloosa County was an Alabama Power employee, a company spokesperson confirmed to ABC 33/40. More >>
  • Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges

    Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-08-20 00:56:36 GMT
    Gov. Rick Perry was defiant Tuesday as he was booked on abuse of power charges, telling dozens of cheering supporters outside a Texas courthouse that he would "fight this injustice with every fiber of my being."More >>
    Gov. Rick Perry was defiant Tuesday as he was booked on abuse of power charges, telling dozens of cheering supporters outside a Texas courthouse that he would "fight this injustice with every fiber of my being."More >>