Alabama notebook: Saban played percentages on fourth down
by Marq Burnett
Nov 30, 2013 | 1266 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN -- With two plays to gain a yard midway through the fourth quarter, Alabama ran the ball twice for no gain. Auburn’s defense stuffed the Tide and forced a turnover on downs at the Auburn 13-yard line.

“It goes back to being able to execute and make plays in critical situations in the game,” Saban said. “We’ve been a really good short yardage team. It just didn’t work out that time. We didn’t get it executed properly.”

Saban elected not to kick a short field goal as kicker Cade Foster had missed his two previous attempts.

“Well, we had missed a couple of field goals and we had fourth down and less than a yard,” Saban said. “I don’t ever like to say I don’t have confidence in our players, but I thought the percentages were that we’d make the first down.”

In hindsight, taking the points may have been the correct call and Saban acknowledged that everyone will criticize the move, including him.

“So, myself and a lot of other people will probably say we should have kicked the field goal there, but we had a field goal from that same spot that we missed,” Saban said. “So, you can’t take it for granted that we would have made it. Anyway, that’s the game.”

Final play

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis’ final touchdown is one of the rarest things ever seen in college football. In fact, there is only record of three other times it has happened.

LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. did it against UAB in September, but other than that, it hadn’t been done since 1968 with the other time coming in 1926.

“I was just shocked,” defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said. “I didn’t think that big of a play would come from that, but everything happens for a reason. That was just the play that came from it.”

Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said the final play went in slow motion from his viewpoint.

“It was just one of those crazy plays,” McCarron said. “It’s almost like a video game. That’s something you do in Madden or NCAA. It’s just a wild play.”

Wide receiver Kevin Norwood simply said “stuff happens.”

“The chances of that happening in college football are rare, and it happened tonight,” Norwood said. “We’ve got to move on to the next team.”

Added linebacker C.J. Mosley, “I really just couldn’t believe it happened. Nobody would have ever expected that. We gave it all we got. We tried to go for the field goal and they made a great play.”

Locker room postgame

Having not lost a game since November of 2012, Alabama players were both frustrated and sad postgame particularly with how the game ultimately played out.

“We were mad because of the way it ended,” Mosley said. “We had a good game plan. They had a good game plan. We both fought back and forth. We hate the way it ended, but it is what it is.”

Tide quarterback AJ McCarron tried to encourage his teammates.

“I told the guys to hold your heads high and be thankful for everything you have,” McCarron said. “Football is just a game at the end of the day.”

While a national title berth is almost completely out of the picture, Pagan wasn’t ready to stop believing.

“Well, we still have hope,” Pagan said. “We’ve been in this situation twice before, and we have still gotten national championships out of it. Our hopes are still alive, and we will continue to get better.”
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