Alabama head coach Nick Saban knew being 20-point favorites heading into the Week 2 matchup against Texas didn’t mean much.
While fans and pundits predicted a dominant victory by the Crimson Tide, Saban cautioned against buying into the hype, referencing Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M as heavy favorites during the 2021 season.
Saban’s concern turned out to be well-founded, with Alabama squeaking by 20-19 Saturday.
Saban praised his team’s mental toughness at his Monday media availability for finding a way to win while not playing its best football.
“I think you get mental toughness because things are hard,” Saban said Monday. “You have to embrace hard. I think that’s true in your life. I think that’s true in football. I think tough times make hard people. Easy times make soft people. It’s no different in football. If it’s hard, you have to embrace hard. I have no problem with our players and how they embraced hard in this game.
“They showed a tremendous amount of toughness and resiliency to play through what they had to play through to win the game,” Saban continued. “We didn’t execute like we wanted to, but you can’t fault the mental toughness. It was tough circumstances. Tough crowd. Very hot. We had guys getting cramps and not able to finish the game in some cases. So I don’t question the mental toughness.”
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy game for Alabama, which committed 15 penalties for 100 yards against Texas, the most ever by an Alabama team with Saban as head coach.
“We don’t want penalties. It’s all about discipline. Making the right choices and decisions whether it’s pre-snap or post-snap, it doesn’t matter,” Saban said in his on-the-field interview, according to Sports Illustrated. “We got to play better, there’s doubt about that.
“You gotta give Texas a lot of credit. Sark’s done a great job here, they’ve got a good team. We just got to play better.”
Alabama will have to lean on its mental toughness as the season progresses with four teams in the top 25 on the schedule.
Next up is UL Monroe before Alabama begins its SEC slate against Vanderbilt Sept. 24.