• 91°
franklin county times

Saban: 2009 is in the past, focus on 2010

HOOVER – Alabama coach Nick Saban made it clear at the start of Southeastern Conference Media Days that last year’s success was in the past and both his and the team was focusing on the 2010 season.

“Is it 2010? Am I right about that? Because everything I kind of hear has always been about last year,” Saban said. “So I’m going to make sure that we’re going to talk about this year relative to our team.”

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the program, which is still on probation for an NCAA rules violation three years ago, is the accusations that Marcell Dareus attended a party thrown by an agent. Saban declined to comment on the situation, saying the program is investigating the situation.

“We’re not really going to make any comments,” Saban said. “Nor do we have any information that he did anything wrong or he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Saban diffused the situation early this week by accusing some agents of using unethical business practices to leach onto young players with no regard to the damage it could do to the players’ futures.

Saban said the program will gather information about the situation, but the biggest focus is moving on from last season and being prepared for the 2010 campaign.

Players agree, saying last year was great but they are focusing on getting back to the national title game.

Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram said he would love to become the first back-to-back winner of the award since Archie Giffin in 1974-75, but he was not worrying about it.

“Of course, that would be great. It’s not my main focus,” Ingram said. “My main focus right now is to better myself as a player each and every day, become the best player I can be for my football team, make the best out of what I can do, put myself in the best position where I can make a lot of plays so I can help our team win games.”

The challenge for the players to forget last season will be difficult given the high expectations for the program. The Crimson Tide received 143 out of 177 votes in the pre-season media poll to win the SEC Championship Game.

Saban said he liked the Tide’s passionate fans and their expectations as long as they remained realistic. With Alabama losing nine starters on defense, including the entire secondary, Saban said the difficulty of replacing them will be a challenge. He said the team has quite a bit of talent, but plugging in talent to replace lost talent is not a recipe for success.

“I watched a cooking show the other day,” Saban said. “Let me say I put all the same ingredients in my pot as he put in his, and what came out of the oven is not the same as what came out of his oven.”

Linebacker Dont’A Hightower was expected to be a big part of the defense last before a knee injury ended his season prematurely. He said the loss of the starters has sparked this year’s defensive unit.

“It might be the foundation and motivation for the defense,” Hightower said. “We have a lot of talent, speed and athletics. We’ll use it to our advantage.”

If the defense struggles early, the offense returns eight starters to help pick up the slack as the Crimson Tide seeks its third consecutive 12-0 regular season.

Quarterback Greg McElroy said he does not anticipate any added pressure on the offense due to the turnover of personnel on defense.

“There’s going to be time when the offense has to step up and win games for us this year, and there’s going to be times when the defense has to step up and win games,” McElroy said. “It’s not added pressure.”

But should that pressure arise, Alabama is poised to handle it with McElroy – who has never lost a game as a starter during his playing career – and the punishing running back duo of Ingram and Trent Richardson.

Ingram said he expects both he and Richardson to be better than last season with all of the work they have done since the national championship game.

“We compete every single day. He makes me better. I make him better. It’s nothing but an advantage to our team just to have a one-two punch like that,” Ingram said. “When I’m in there I’m fresh, he comes in, he’s fresh. We’re both making plays, both being explosive. It’s nothing but an advantage to our team.”

While having a stout offensive unit returning, Ingram was quick to say the experience means nothing if the players do not put in the hard work that made last year’s success possible.

“It’s never going to be easy. We know what it takes to get back to that point and with the championship,” Ingram said. “But now we’re working even harder. We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves harder because we have a bull’s-eye on our back. Every team is going to give us their best shot when they play us.”

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

Galleries

PHOTOS: Phil Campbell High School students graduate

Franklin County

NEMCC announces more than 400 to spring vice president’s list

Franklin County

UNA releases spring dean’s, president’s lists

News

Roxy holds June 15 concert, plans other events

Franklin County

Free summer meal program available at Franklin County Schools

News

PHOTOS: Red Bay High School graduates celebrate

x