Texas A&M surprised college football with its 29-24 victory over the No. 1 Crimson Tide, helped by a 20-0 first-quarter lead. Turnovers on offense and missed assignments on defense put the Tide in a hole it could not climb out of.
“We didn’t play well,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “Just because they scored 20 points doesn’t mean that the defense played bad and we played well on offense. When I say we didn’t play well, we didn’t play well as a team.”
As No. 1 Alabama (1-0) prepares for the rematch with No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0), starting fast is paramount.
“Last year, we came out a little slow,” offensive lineman Anthony Steen said. “We’re going to try to stay focused on coming out fast at the beginning of the game and keep the tempo fast the entire game.”
Starting fast may quiet the Aggies’ rowdy crowd, better known as the 12th Man. Kyle Field is known as one of the loudest places to play in college football, but Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said it won't matter much.
“I mean it doesn’t matter where you’re playing,” McCarron said. “It’s always good to get off to a fast start. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing there or home.”
Saban understands the Tide will have to play a complete game to beat a talented Aggies team.
“This is not something you can go into and say, ‘Hey, if we play good on this side of the ball, we’re going to be fine,’” Saban said. “You don’t beat good teams like that. You have to play well as a team. Our team has to play well against their team.”
The Tide was coming off an emotionally draining road win at LSU, making its matchup with Texas A&M the perfect trap game.
“I think it was just exhaustion really,” McCarron said. “It was a long game, a full 60-minute game. Playing there takes a lot out of you, at Death Valley. We have no excuses. We came in here the next week and lost. Simple as that.”
Saban isn’t making any excuses either. His mantra is players have to be ready every week for the SEC gauntlet.
“You have be able to take 24 hours – win or lose – and get ready for the next opponent, whether it’s psychological, emotional, ability to prepare throughout the course of the week so you can get ready to go out there and play,” Saban said. “Whatever the circumstance is, you need to do it because consistency in performance is the key to being successful and you can’t be up and down.
"I think when people talk about emotion all the time, that creates that. It was an emotional win for us at LSU. But that can’t be an excuse not to be ready to play the next one. It just can’t be. It just can’t be acceptable. You’re not going to be consistent, especially in our league.”