“The first couple of nights were tough, you just have to do things to keep yourself busy and keep your mind off of it,” Kouandjio said Tuesday. “You just have to move on, you know.”
Tide junior defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan also wanted to get past the heart breaking defeat.
“It’s just like, we lost fair and square,” Pagan said. “There are hard feelings, but at the end of the day it was meant to happen since it happened. Really we just have to move past it and start getting ready for Oklahoma.”
And move on they shall. Alabama’s biggest opponent in the Sugar Bowl on January 2 won’t be Oklahoma. It will be avoiding an Iron Bowl hangover. The last time the Tide was in this situation, coming off a late season loss that derailed national championship hopes, was 2008 following the SEC Championship game against Florida. The Tide went on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Utah.
Saban is using that situation as a lesson for this team.
“I think the lessons to be learned are, what did you do so that it affected your ability to be successful?” Saban said. “Not taking anything away from anybody else or the team that best us, but we did not play with the same effort, intensity, sense of urgency, we didn’t finish plays, we had lots of mental errors and six penalties in the fourth quarter that were very, very costly. So there were a lot of lessons to be learned and we kind of let it happen. We didn’t continue to work on the things that have always made us a good football team and a good football program here. The complacency and winning sort of got us away from that.”
Saban knows there are changes that need to be made for the upcoming game and for his team going forward.
“I think every guy has got to change his habits and get back on track so that we can do things,” Saban said. “I’m talking about finishing plays, playing with discipline, doing your job, being a good team member, not being selfish, not being jealous about somebody else, not being disgruntled, there’s all kinds of lessons to be learned. But when you do all those things, you have consequences. And they’re not good ones. And I’ve said all year long to our team that, can we do these things without having some kind of bad crisis happening to make us realize what we need to do to be successful? So we had the crisis and we’ll see how we react to it.”
The players say they’re guarding against a letdown. Part of it is excitement to play a storied program and the other part is not finishing the year with a loss.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Pagan said. “We’re fired up to play Oklahoma. It’s not for a national championship, but we’re going to go into it like it is. We want to finish this season as strong as possible.”