Nick Saban beat the SEC to the punch when it comes to disciplining DeVonta Smith.
Saban said Saturday he knew the SEC would review Smith’s ejection in the final minutes of the Texas A&M game, after Smith threw a punch at an Aggie. The University of Alabama’s football coach did not wait for the ruling, however, announcing in his Monday press conference that Smith will be suspended for the first half of the upcoming Tennessee game.
“The fact that Smitty got kicked out of the last game for retaliation is something that really can’t be tolerated and I think is a lesson that all players need to learn from in terms of you can’t make emotional decisions on the field,” Saban said. “You can’t do what you feel like doing. You have to have enough discipline to walk away even if you’re provoked into something you don’t like. He will be disciplined in the next game. That’s our decision to do what we need to do to help him make better choices and decisions in the future.
“Smitty’s a great guy. He’s one of the best guys, hardest workers, does everything right, but it doesn’t make any difference. When you make emotional decisions, you don’t have a brain, you make bad decisions, sometimes they lead to consequences.”
Saban later clarified that he believes Smith’s actions to be, “a little more significant,” than the undisclosed violation of team rules that caused Smith, Najee Harris, Terrell Lewis and Brian Robinson Jr. to miss the first quarter of the Duke game, thus the full half for Smith in this instance. Saban believes the conference office will agree with his judgement.
Tennessee will also be shorthanded, as linebacker Henry To’o To’o will miss the first half due to a targeting ejection in the 20-10 win over Mississippi State last week. To’o To’o is second among Tennessee linebackers in tackles for a loss (2 1/2).
In Alabama’s first road SEC game, it tried to lighten the mental workload of freshman linebacker Christian Harris by substituting Ale Kaho into Harris’ position at times.
In its second SEC road game, the man in that role was Markail Benton. The sophomore did not record a tackle, but his appearance on the field has been weeks in the making.
“Markail’s been injured and he was actually competing and we were going to try and create a role for him, and he pulled a hamstring and missed a couple of weeks,” Saban said. “So it was really to try and get him an opportunity, as well as maybe take some burden off the other guys in terms of what’s on their plate. So if he continues to do well it would be helpful to our team that we have four guys on our defense who can play winning football. He’s certainly a guy who has the capability to do that.”
Bryant-Denny after dark
Alabama’s long-awaited night game is here this weekend, with an 8 p.m. kickoff against Tennessee. It will be the true debut of the LED lighting system UA installed this year, one that has the ability to strobe and change colors.
UA released a video of the lights shining red in the preseason, which Xavier McKinney saw on Instagram. The lights also turned blue in honor of Dornell Cousette, the Tuscaloosa police officer killed in the line of duty in September.
“I think it’ll be great for the fans to have that type of lighting going around in the stadium. I think it will create energy,” McKinney said.
McKinney has other reasons to look forward to a night game.
“I like night games because we get to watch movies the day before,” McKinney said. “It’s a chill little moment.
“The environment is cool and I like to play in those types of environments.”
UA found out Monday morning it will have also host a night game the following week, when the SEC announced the kickoff time for the Arkansas game.
One member of the Crimson Tide earned SEC accolades for his performance against Texas A&M, while seven others were named players of the week by the coaching staff. More on those here.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson