Alabama’s scrape with Texas A&M in 2017 inspired Nick Saban’s “rat poison” line that permeated the program’s lexicon. He said he wanted to avoid a repeat of that sound bite after Saturday’s game, but closed his postgame press conference with a similar message.
“We have a good team, but our team needs to do a lot of things to improve,” he said. “If what our team has accomplished to this point makes them in any way not take into account the kind of teams we have to play in the future, and they underestimate what we need to do to improve so that we can become a better team and don’t just take things for granted … that we’re going to show up because we have an Alabama uniform on and win the game … it’s not going to happen that way. It’s going to be everybody’s choice in the organization. I would appreciate it if you would, you know, sort of look at some of the things we didn’t do so well, and write about that. So maybe I can show it to some of the players and say, ‘Look here, man. Here’s something you can do better.'”
All eight Alabama freshmen who had appeared in the first three games of the season also participated in the game on Saturday. Those eight players have now played in four games, the limit they can play in and still receive a redshirt for the 2018 season. Playing in one more game will remove the possibility of those players redshirting.
Listed alphabetically, those players are outside linebacker Eyabi Anoma, punter Skyler DeLong, inside linebacker Ale Kaho, inside linebacker Jaylen Moody, defensive back Patrick Surtain Jr. and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
Running back Jerome Ford and cornerback Josh Jobe had played in the first three games of the season but did not appear on Saturday.
Special teams mixed
DeLong’s first punt Saturday pinned Texas A&M at the 1-yard line. Later he booted the ball 51 yards and had another punt go for 50. But Alabama’s sophomore punter also shanked a 13-yarder and had one that traveled just 31.
It was a mixed-bag day for the Crimson Tide on special teams. DeLong averaged 36 yards on six punts, pinning the Aggies inside their 20 three times.
Joseph Bulovas kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, the longest kick of his career. He was also a perfect 6 for 6 on extra points.
In the return game, Jaylen Waddle ran back two punts for 25 yards, with a long return of 15 yards, but Alabama twice had penalties called for illegal blocks on returns.
Honorary captains for the game were linebackers Barry Krauss and Rich Wingo. Both were linebackers on Alabama’s 1978 team that won the SEC and a national championship. The 1978 team was recognized on the field before the game as part of its 40th anniversary. … Game captains were outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings, tight end Hale Hentges and running back Damien Harris. … Alabama won the toss and chose to defer. Alabama is 2-2 in coin tosses this season. … Alabama’s 2018 men’s indoor track and field team, which won the SEC championship, was recognized at halftime. … Paid attendance was announced as 101,821. …. Saban remained undefeated in 13 games against his former assistants. He’s also now 54-14 against ranked teams since the start of 2008. … Saturday was Alabama’s 20th consecutive win at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Tommy Deas contributed to this story.