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Saban focused on team chemistry

TUSCALOOSA — Alabama coach Nick Saban has plenty of areas of development his football team must address.

Among the coach’s themes throughout this summer camp has been being a physical team, finishing strong and being disciplined.

But the coach also talked to reporters several times about off-the-field things such as team building and chemistry.

“I’m pretty pleased with the way our individuals kind of manage their business,” Saban said after last Saturday’s scrimmage. “We have more guys that make good choices and decisions about doing the right thing. But you can affect other people at the same time to do the same things, and that’s something that we all need to do.

“I’m sure all of us, including me, have a friend someplace or somebody that we could affect in a positive way that we know is not doing the right thing.

“And we choose not to do it, because we don’t want the confrontation, but yet, it would be helpful to that person if we could get them to change. And I’m not just talking about as football players now. I’m talking about as people, as students and as players. And there has been many players that have had lots of problems in the past.”

Saban used Michael Irvin’s speech when he was inducted recently into the NFL Hall of Fame as an example.

“It should be the greatest day of the guy’s life and he sits there and talks about his kids,” Saban said. “How he wanted somebody that was a better parent for them, a better father for them, a better role model for them because of all the bad things and choices that he made that affected his legacy as a player.

“But is there anybody else on the Dallas Cowboy team that could have helped him? And that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about players being responsible for their own self-determination, but also being responsible to the team, so that we have sort of a consciousness that everybody is helping everybody do the right things.

“I think that’s necessary to be successful in any organization. It’s a collective responsibility to one another. I would like to see our guys do that. I think that would make us a better team. ... It’s not natural to do. It’s something that good teams have, and it’s something I’d like to see develop on our team.”

Saban did not specifically say chemistry is or could be a problem this season. But the coach has been proactive to keep problems from taking root.

Dr. Kevin Elko of the Pacific Institute and Trevor Moawad, the director of the Athletic & Personal Development program, have spoken to the team during training camp.

Last week, Saban discussed players being too self-absorbed and unable to handle adversity.

“They miss a pass, they miss a block, they make a mental error on a play, it affects them the next play,” the coach said. “They can’t come back and go to the next play. So we need leadership to affect them and we need people to understand they don’t need to internalize and get emotional about making an error or a mistake or not doing something right, they just need to learn from it, grow from it and get better.”

The coach also talked about needing some of his veterans to be patient with younger players.

“We have players out there who get upset — we give up a play, they get upset with the guy that messed up,” Saban said. “Well, nobody feels any worse than the guy who gave the play up. So now we lose our whole poise as a unit because one guy did something bad?

“That’s where strength of personality and competitive character is a real key to being successful. And that’s something that was very good on our team last year. We go to LSU and win, we go to Georgia and win, we go to Tennessee and win, beat Clemson in Atlanta. You know, you overcome a lot more on the road. To me, that’s where you really get a sense of who are we.”

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