Saban wants to look ahead; UA players still hoping
Trent Richardson thinks the only thing that can top Alabama's slugfest with LSU is a rematch.
Richardson and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide are still harboring hope that they - and the BCS - can produce a Round 2 with the top-ranked Tigers in New Orleans for a national title.
''Most definitely. Look at the game,'' the Tide tailback said Monday. ''We don't deserve to be No. 1 and No. 2? If you look at how we played in our games like this, you don't see no 50 points getting put up on any of us. Neither of us scored a touchdown.
''Who wouldn't want to see a rematch? That's probably the biggest game that you're ever going to see like that, unless we get a rematch.''
There are plenty who would debate the merits of replaying the game even though it was decided by LSU's field goal in overtime for a 9-6 victory.
Namely Stanford, which remains one spot behind No. 3 Alabama in the BCS rankings, and fellow unbeaten Boise State at No. 5. LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma State likely control their own destiny.
The Tide is at least playing for a berth in the Sugar Bowl, if not the bigger game in New Orleans.
Richardson said Round 1 with LSU was perhaps the most physical game of his Alabama career.
''Just imagine you got two 18-wheelers going at it,'' he said. ''If you've ever seen, like, the Matrix movie? That's how the collision was out there.''
Coach Nick Saban headed off any questions about what happened last Saturday - or in January. He opened Monday's news conference by saying he'd ''make one statement about the last game and then we're moving on.''
As for BCS matters, don't bother asking.
''I am focused on the things that we can control, which is how our team plays,'' Saban said.
Alabama will have a hard time making any grand statements for poll voters and BCS computers on the field. The Tide's last three games are at Mississippi State and No. 24 Auburn with a visit in between by FCS member Georgia Southern.
The objective remains the same for the Tide, it's just now they need other contenders to fall while they keep winning.
''Our goal is to win a national championship, obviously,'' Tide center William Vlachos said. ''That kind of took a hit on Saturday. All we can focus on is what we're doing, the games that we have we've got to be locked in, be ready to go and play our best football.''
Saban doesn't want his team suffering a lingering hangover from that loss, but the game left some lessons - and questions - for his players. They hadn't faced any fourth-quarter challenges in their first eight games.
''Were you able to focus on doing your job at a critical time in the game like you needed to do it correctly?'' he said. ''Because that's what really gets you results. You've got to play smart. That's what we need to sort of take from all this.''
He emphasizes that the loss wasn't the kickers' fault. Cade Foster went 1 of 4 on field goals, all of at least 44 yards, and Jeremey Shelley had a 49-yarder blocked while making one from 34 yards. The reason those attempts weren't much shorter the Tide couldn't get anywhere after moving to within long field goal range.
''We end up going backwards in every one of those circumstances, so it makes it a much more difficult kick, and the percentages kicking the ball from the 23 yard line, or the 24 yard line, is a lot better than they are from the 49, 50 and whatever the rest of the kicks were,'' Saban said. ''Even in pro (football), for a pro kicker, to hit a high percentage of 50-yarders, and now it's like it's all about the kickers.
''Well what about the four plays that happened before the kicker had to go in?''
This situation doesn't seem to have the hallmarks of what happened last season. The Tide rolled along with the No. 1 spot and two wins over Top 10 teams before getting solidly outplayed in a two-touchdown loss at South Carolina, then fell twice more later in the season.
''We can't let it affect us or it will turn into another loss,'' safety Robert Lester said.