Alabama looks for better preparation and attention to detail moving forward.
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims (6) puts on the Old Leather Helmet following the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Georgia Dome. Alabama defeated West Virginia 33-23. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — After further review, Alabama’s 33-23 victory over West Virginia in the 2014 season opener is not as disconcerting as first feared. This, at least, is the story head coach Nick Saban is sticking with.
“You know after reviewing the film of the game, it was a really good win for our team,” Saban said.
Effort and toughness are a couple of characteristics Saban said he liked from his football team after the Tide limited the Mountaineers to just one field goal in each of the final two periods.
“I think our players really competed well in the game,” Saban said. “When things went wrong, they hung in there and played the next play and kept competing in the game and never really got flustered or lost their poise.”
The coach highlighted the efforts of Amari Cooper (12 catches, 130 yards), T.J. Yeldon (23 rushes, 126 yards, 2 TDs) and Jalston Fowler (blocking, special teams). Quarterback Blake Simms set school records for a debut in both completions (24) and pass attempts (33). Cooper’s 12 catches ranks in a tie for second all-time at Alabama for receptions in a game (DJ Hall had 13 against Tennessee in 2007).
Still, Saban freely admits that the team has a long way to go in order to meet Alabama standards.
“Really we have got to have better preparation, better attention to detail, and more guys on our team able to play winning football on a consistent basis,” Saban said. “And obviously first game experience for some guys, who haven’t played a lot, is certainly monumental, in terms of them understanding and developing.”
The No. 2 ranked Tide opens the 2014 home schedule at 12 p.m Saturday against Florida Atlantic, a 55-7 loser to Nebraska last week. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
As 39-point favorites would suggest, the focus for Alabama is on what it has to do to improve moving forward in the season.
“And I think it is really important how much you improve from first game to second game, and I think the key to being successful in this season for a lot of teams that I saw is going to be who can improve; who can make that improvement,” Saban said. “And that is what we are really focused on.”