Notes: Saban on unpredictability of 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- As he's done all season, Nick Saban continued to guard his Alabama Crimson Tide against an upset. He could have stepped to the podium on Monday and not said a word and gotten his point across.

But that's not his style.

With the weekend off, Saban spent Saturday taking notes. No. 4 LSU lost to No. 10 Florida in dramatic fashion. No. 5 UGA was exposed No. 6 South Carolina. Even Missouri got tripped up on the road by the previously 1-3 Vanderbilt Commodores. No one was safe.

"The teams that most of you in this room make head and shoulders above other teams, obviously showed you this last weekend how badly you can be mistaken," Saban said in his opening remarks. "I know I can be mistaken and get criticized, but you guys are badly mistaken when you make teams that are like so much better than everybody else. This weekend kind of proved that your predictability is not very good.

"What it proved is the only thing predictable about college football is its unpredictability."

It wasn't quite the tirade of a month ago when Saban criticized the media for overlooking Western Kentucky -- a team the Tide beat 35-0 -- but the message was the same.

"The key to the whole thing is consistency in performance, having a group of players that are committed to doing the things they need to do to play the game at a high standard and a high level all the time regardless of the circumstance or situation," Saban said.

No one need go on radio or television to put the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide on upset alert. Saban and the coaching staff have that job covered.

"This bye week was perfect timing," said senior safety Robert Lester. "It gave the younger guys a chance to look at other teams and other great teams and them not bringing their A game to the game and actually lose a game, maybe they learn a lesson while not actually going out there and learning a lesson and it costing us."

Alabama will travel to Columbia, Mo., on Saturday to face the Missouri Tigers, who will play without starting quarterback James Franklin who is sidelined with a stained MCL, according to coach Gary Pinkel.

On paper, it looks like a game the Crimson Tide should win handily. Just don't tell Saban that.

"Our team needs to be ready to play their best against what I would say is a very, very good football team," he said.

Injury update

The bye week served a dual purpose for the Tide. Players were mentally recharged, as well as physically recovered.

Saban said starting cornerback Deion Belue, starting wide receiver Kevin Norwood and backup H-back/running back Brent Calloway would all practice this week. Belue, Saban said, would be limited in terms of contact drills.

Saban took time to applaud John Fulton and freshman Geno Smith for their job backing up Belue and Dee Milliner, who missed time a game with a strained hip flexor.

"Fulton has done a nice job when he's been called on to play for us," Saban said. "It's good to have a guy that has the experience that Fulton has. He's done a really nice job for us.

"Geno is a young guy that continues to develop at a lot of different positions. We've just got to keep working to help them make strides every practice, every day, every play so that they can improve a little more consistency and confidence in what they're doing."


"He’s just relentless," said running back Eddie Lacy of Saban. "He has the answer to pretty much everything and if you just listen to him, if you just take everything he’s saying and just apply it, then you should be successful as a team and as an individual."