Nick Saban: Can't take it for granted

Updated: November 12, 2013, 12:13 PM ET
By Alex Scarborough | ESPN.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The win over LSU on Saturday was sweet, but Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn't want his top-ranked Crimson Tide to fall asleep at the wheel.

After all, he has seen it happen once and he won't have it happen again.

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama coach Nick Saban is using last season's loss to Texas A&M as a reminder of what might come after an emotional victory against LSU.

Alabama beat LSU on the road late last season only to return home and slip up against Texas A&M, losing a game that nearly cost the Tide a shot at the BCS national championship game. And while this week's opponent -- Mississippi State -- is no Texas A&M on paper, the possibility of an upset remained fresh on Saban's mind Monday.

"The biggest thing is the players have to embrace the next challenge of what they need to do to play well," said Saban, who took time to point out that all five of the Bulldogs' losses were to top-20 teams. "You cannot take things for granted. There can't be any kind of relief syndrome that, 'We got by that game.'

"The team we want to be is the team we were in the second half -- an aggressive team that's trying to control the line of scrimmage, playing aggressively. Not a team playing with a lot of anxiety that's worried about making mistakes and errors. We made a lot of mental errors in the first half of the game.

You've got to be aggressive and you've got to play to win. You can't play to keep from getting beat.

-- Alabama coach Nick Saban

"You've got to be aggressive and you've got to play to win. You can't play to keep from getting beat."

Linebacker Trey DePriest said the team has bought in: Relief syndrome will not be tolerated.

"By just going out and doing what we do every week," DePriest said. "Don't get complacent. That's basically it. No complacency."

Saban wants the team's methodical routine to be the same this week as it was the week before. A sense of entitlement, he said, must be avoided at all costs.

"With every game you win, the next challenge becomes more important and a bigger game," he said. "This certainly will be no different playing on the road against a very good team this week."

Alabama's trip to Starkville is only the third road game of the season and the first since the Tide took care of Kentucky 48-7 on Oct. 12.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron doesn't quite see the similarities between last year's game against Texas A&M and this year's game against Mississippi State.

"Last year was a lot different," McCarron said. "[We were] playing Texas A&M, which was one of the top teams in the country at the time. Also, them having the offense they had, it was just a lot of exhausted guys out there. We had some beat-up guys, especially from the week before [versus LSU], especially on offense. The receivers were beat up.

"Other than that, we'll be ready to go."

Alex Scarborough | email

Alabama/SEC reporter

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