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Saban: Alabama has ‘really, really good team’ despite issues

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Before his football team clashed Saturday with Texas A&M at Kyle Field, Alabama head coach Nick Saban told reporters the Crimson Tide needed an
effective rushing attack to find success.

The offense answered with a paltry total of 23 yards on 26 carries, a total that included six
sacks. Alabama also had 14 penalties for 99 yards and two turnovers, compared to 4-for-19 and one for the Aggies.

It’s hard to win with those numbers, but Alabama had a surprising Plan B and won 26-20 behind career days from quarterback Jalen Milroe and receiver Jermaine Burton as well as a defense that only allowed a field goal and 103 total yards in the second half.

“This may be the record game for me in terms of messing up and still winning, if you take the mess-ups and the penalties and add them up altogether,” Saban said after the game. “But then you look at the other side of all that, and what kind of resilience and ability to overcome adversity does somebody have when you’re talking about the kind of competitive spirit you have on your team – which I will take any day because we can fix the other stuff.”

Alabama (5-1 overall, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) returns home Saturday to play Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) at 11 a.m. (ESPN).

Milroe might still be a work in progress, but against A&M (4-2, 2-1) he completed 21-of-33
passes for 321 yards. He threw three touchdown passes, two of which were to Burton (nine
receptions, 197 yards).

Milroe threw an early third quarter interception with Alabama trailing 17-10, but the Tide’s Caleb Downs immediately returned the favor with a pick. The oft-maligned Milroe, who was benched earlier in the season, followed with a TD toss to Burton as Alabama tied the game. Before the quarter ended Alabama took the lead for good when Milroe-Burton teamed up for another TD.

“One of the things that Jalen has learned is just to keep playing the next play and focus on that play,” Saban said. “You’re going to make mistakes. Bad things are going to happen sometimes, but you’ve got to be a point guard, man. You’ve got to make lots of assists, not very many turnovers, but you can’t let the turnover that you do make bother you.

“Distribute the ball to the rest of the guys on the team and let them make plays.”

While the win wasn’t always pretty, Saban said, “For guys to pull themselves up to overcome adversity, this is a great win for our team. It was a great win for the program.

“It was an opportunity for this team to sort of show who they are in terms of what kind of team we have, and I think we can have a really, really good team.”

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