Saban holds Hilltoppers in high regard

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If Nick Saban's blowup on Wednesday was any indication, Saturday's game against Western Kentucky could be interesting. The head coach of the Crimson Tide made it clear he's not buying any of the hype of being No. 1 in the polls and doesn't appreciate the lack of respect shown to a Western Kentucky team he said may be the best in the Sun Belt.

"I hate to be negative with anybody," Saban said, "But when you people start writing stuff about people that we're playing that doesn't give them the proper respect, that's not fair.

"It's not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It's not fair to our players, who need to respect them."

While the tirade was pointed at the media, the point of the lecture might have been directed to his players reading their own press clippings. When asked whether he expected an improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, Saban questioned whether his team was ready to take that step forward.

"Based on the way we practiced and what our attitude is around here and what gets written about what's going on and how everybody thinks, I would question whether that's happening or not," he said. "I'm not a real happy camper right now."

Given Saban's tone, it's safe to assume the Tide are taking Saturday's game seriously, even if they're the No. 1 team in the country and the Hilltoppers aren't anywhere to be found in the top 25.

Three storylines

  • Putting rankings aside: Saban pointed out Alabama's history of flubbing the low-profile games like Florida Atlantic or Georgia Southern in the week after beating a big-time opponent. For Alabama to make a run at another championship, only the best effort will suffice. If you're complacent on top, you won't be there long.

  • Defensive execution: Alabama's defense was, at times, dominant against Michigan. Other times, it showed susceptibility to the big play. The missed assignments and poor communication in the secondary must be remedied to stop a Western Kentucky team that's not afraid to throw the football.