How does a team respond to adversity?
That’s the question Nick Saban had partially answered during Saturday’s 27-19 win over Texas A&M. It’s also an answer he’s seeking in full this week after his team didn’t play its best game.
The answer in the past has been that Alabama responds well in the weeks after adversity.
Whether it was the 59-0 victory against Texas A&M the week following a 14-13 squeaker over Arkansas in 2014 or the 38-10 win over a favored Georgia team two weeks after a 43-37 loss to Ole Miss in 2015, Saban-coached teams tend to play good football after being challenged.
“Well, I hope so,” Saban said. “I hope people can look at this game and see how did they advance themselves in terms of the way they played? Is this a game that you would tell everybody, ‘Yeah, watch me in this game because I really played well?’ If you can’t say that, then you should take a real look in the mirror and say, what do I need to do to get better here?
“As coaches, we want to try to help these guys every way they can improve with the preparation, the right mind-set when you get to the game, understanding the challenges you have when you play on the road. Understand the things that you did well and the things that you did poorly and how it could have affected the outcome of the game. All those things to me are really, really important. How did we play? How much did it affect us making line calls or whatever because we had a lot of noise in the game. All these things are things we should learn from, grow from, be able to improve as a team.”
Of course, adversity is relative for a team ranked No. 1 in the country and 6-0 on the season. In other words, it’s not always about losing, but more about a team not playing to its potential.
In that regard, if it helps players focus in more the adversity is worth it.
“I think definitely having this game was a good thing for us,” junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “Texas A&M definitely challenged us, they were a real good team with a lot of talent. I mean, we did a lot of things wrong that allowed them to come back into the game. It’s a lot of things we can fix. But, like you said, it is a good thing that we had this close of a game.”