Alabama head coach Nick Saban taking Commodores seriously


Claire Barnett

Vanderbilt takes on Kansas State on Saturday, September 16, 2017. Photo by Claire Barnett//The Vanderbilt Hustler.

Milind Mishra

Alabama head coach Nick Saban had plenty to say about Vanderbilt at his weekly press conference as the Commodores prep for what is the most exciting game in the Derek Mason era.

And when Saban speaks, you listen.

When asked about what impressed him the most about the Commodores, Saban first mentioned the defense, which has conceded the fewest offensive yards in the nation. He spoke glowingly of the “exotic looks” that Vandy’s defense plays, saying “it makes it so much more difficult for the offensive line to identify the [defensive] front and know who to block, so it creates confusion.”

Saban also mentioned Vanderbilt’s “outstanding” secondary. Vanderbilt has the top-ranked passing defense in college football. Although Vanderbilt’s played MTSU, Alabama A&M, and Kansas State, Saban said it would be a mistake to discount those stats simply due to the opposition.

The key for Vanderbilt will be to maintain a balanced offense. Saban praised Vanderbilt’s offensive balance, and noted how Kyle Shurmur is the most efficient passing quarterback in the SEC. The key for Vanderbilt, specifically Shurmur, will be to hit on a few explosive plays, because that’s what it usually takes to beat Alabama.

Saban didn’t leave out running back Ralph Webb either. Saban described Webb as a “physical, downhill runner who runs with a lot of toughness and tenacity.” Expect Alabama’s top priority to be shutting down the running game, and force Shurmur to pass the ball against their dangerous secondary.

He also joined the chorus of college football minds that are taking Vanderbilt seriously. Saban candidly mentioned how he thought Coach Mason’s squad “deserves to be in the Top 25.”

However, when asked at Vanderbilt’s press conference on Tuesday, Kyle Shurmur remained steadfast that they haven’t thought of anything other than the impending game.

“Our full focus is on Alabama, and going 1-0 this week,” he said.