Nick Saban has talked about playing with ‘an edge’ all week long, and it certainly seems like he’s on edge ahead of Alabama’s matchup against Tennessee on Saturday. Saban, speaking on his weekly radio show, urged Alabama fans to show up and make noise against the Volunteers.
On the surface, that’s nothing unusual for a coach to do. Josh Heupel told fans he needed ‘Neyland Loud’ last Saturday, and he definitely got it. But Saban’s tone was a little different.
Nick Saban ended “Hey Coach” with a mini rant on the impact fans can make on Saturday— Brett Greenberg (@BrettGreenberg_) October 20, 2023
“Everybody is on the team, all the fans everybody … you create the momentum … don’t worry about the player’s creating it ... you create it for them … one time I’m asking you to do that” pic.twitter.com/pRKdpxIPcw
“You talk about what a great rivalry game this is and what a big game it is, but it should be a big game for everybody. You know, everybody’s on the team, all the fans everybody and the fans in this game should have a huge impact on this game. I mean, you can have a huge impact with the noise that you make. This team is trying to go fast. They run 2.7 plays every minute in the game. So you can affect that and disrupt that by making noise and it’s going to create energy and (an) environment that our players will play better in. They’ll be able to sustain their intensity better in, which is what we lost last week, because it’s gonna take that kind of game for 60 minutes. These guys make a lot of explosive plays. They go fast. So it’s going to be one of those kind of games and everybody’s got to stay with it. You got to play the next play and stay in it as fans and you create the momentum of the game by what you do as fans. Don’t worry about the players creating it. You create for them one time, one time I’m asking you to do that.”
Remember, Saban is one year removed from walking into the chaos of Neyland Stadium which was full of fans watching their team in the thick of a National Championship race for the first time in 20 years. At Alabama, Saban has created a championship-or-bust culture that fans have gotten used to, perhaps taking some urgency out of Bryant-Denny Stadium through the years.
Alabama has already dropped a home game this year to Texas. They had a sleepy second half last week against Arkansas. I think this is Saban just simply trying to light a fire under his fanbase ahead of another key home game.
Keep in mind too — Tennessee played their worst game of the season on the road at Florida about a month ago. The crowd noise in The Swamp was a big factor why, so that’s something that Joe Milton and the Vols’ offense are going to have to improve on during Saturday’s game.
Tennessee and Alabama are set for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on CBS.