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Saban says Crimson Tide must correct mistakes soon to avoid beating itself (via Crimson Magazine)

19 Sep 2016 Stan J. Griffin

The riveting 48-43 win by the No. 1 Alabama football team over then-No. 19 Ole Miss Saturday in Oxford will not soon be forgotten,  as the Crimson Tide had to survive a thriller filled with big plays by both sides, a host of momentum swings and a late rally by Hugh Freeze's Rebels to remain undefeated in the early season at 3-0. 

It was also a game that was much closer than it probably should have been, and as Alabama coach Nick Saban pointed out during his Monday press conference, his team can ill afford to continue the mistakes that plagued it early and often in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, mistakes that might translate into a defeat somewhere down the road if the top-ranked Crimson Tide does not correct them soon. 

"I'm very proud of the way our team competed in the game, and the guys played hard, played with a lot of heart, great competitive spirit, but when you look at things, the devil is kind of in the details," he said. "We could have really lost the game based on mental mistakes, mental errors, lack of execution at times that really led to bad plays for our team. So, our focus needs to be on getting these things corrected, but having the ability to focus on sorta' each and every play. It's kind of hard to figure out when you get behind in the game 24-3, basically gave them 14 points, one on the missed execution of a line call that gave them a sack fumble for a touchdown, one which was a busted coverage in the secondary, which was really pretty easy. Lack of discipline and eye control for an uncontested touchdown. And then to come back and (outscore the Rebels) 45-6 over the next I don't know how many minutes in the game. And then do a really poor job of finishing the game like we need to finish it, and allow them to score 13 points in the last five minutes or whatever in the game. So, all these things catch up with you if you don't fix them, correct them and focus on every play and get things executed properly. You don't ever want to beat yourself, and when you do things like that, you give yourself an opportunity to beat yourself."

Alabama will get another chance to clean up its act Saturday when Paul Haynes' Kent State Golden Flashes (1-2) of the Mid-American Conference pay a visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium for an 11 a.m. CT (SEC Network) clash. 
Saban said he looks forward to seeing how his team will fare against a quality MAC program coming off a 27-7 win over Monmouth. The game obviously also has a bit of sentimental significance for the 10th-year Alabama coach. 

"Kent State, my alma mater, you know I was telling (his wife) Terry this morning, I watch these games and these tapes, and look on the field, and I played there, and I can't remember too many games that I played in, so I guess I'm getting old," he said with a laugh. "Anyway, they did a nice job against Penn State and it was 16-13 at the half (before the Flashes fell short 33-13 in its season-opener) and they actually missed a field goal to tie the game. I think they've settled on a quarterback in (redshirt freshman Mylik) Mitchell, who is a very athletic guy who has played well for them. You don't have to look hard to find Central Michigan beating Oklahoma State. The Mid-American Conference is sort of known for being able to come up against some pretty good teams and come up with some wins. Obviously North Dakota State beating Iowa last week, who is a ranked team, and this happens every week, and it happens because the teams that they're playing don't have the proper respect, they don't prepare correctly and then they don't go out and play very well and the other team has players too that are very capable. They need to be respected and we need to focus on what we need to do to get better as a team and play to our standard, and that's certainly going to be the message for this week."

In regards to the physical health of his team, Saban reported that redshirt-junior receiver ArDarius Stewart (the team's second-leading receiver behind sophomore Calvin Ridley), who suffered a knee injury in the Ole Miss game, is the only player questionable for the game against Kent State. 

If Stewart, who has 13 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns, is not able to go against the Golden Flashes, Saban said he has a pair of other players in mind in terms of filling that void. 

"Well (redshirt junior) Robert (Foster) will play some, but the guy that's been playing really well for us is (junior) Cam Sims, so we would play him as well," he said. "It will be an opportunity for some other guys to play. A young guy that we've been trying to play both ways, who's got a lot of promise, is (freshman kick returner/defensive back) Trevon Diggs, who, because of our lack of depth in the secondary, we've tried to be playing him both ways, which I think we'll probably try to emphasize a little more offense with him this week."

Saban said the Crimson Tide would not practice on Monday, adding that he felt his team needed a bit of a physical break.

The Southeastern Conference announced Monday that freshman Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts was named its offensive player of the week while UA senior defensive back/kick returner Eddie Jackson was named as the league's co-special teams player of the week.

In addition, the Alabama coaching staff recognized nine Tide players following the win over the Rebels as its players of the week. 

Bradley Bozeman, Damien Harris and Hurts were selected on offense, Ryan Anderson, Reuben Foster and Dalvin Tomlinson on defense, and Adam Griffith, Keith Holcombe and Jackson on special teams.

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