Last Modified: Monday, November 04, 2013 8:52 PM
BATON ROUGE — Nick Saban’s famed “process” may not allow for such foolishness at Alabama, but Les Miles was quick to admit that this week is a little different around LSU.
The No. 10 Tigers (6-2, 3-2 SEC) aren’t really in the national hunt this season, but the annual war with the top-ranked Tide will have all the usual trappings and distractions — prime time on CBS Saturday night for the third straight year, GameDay on ESPN Saturday morning from Tuscaloosa, saturated ESPN coverage from the LSU campus today.
Both teams went to the trouble of making sure they had an open date last week to better prepare.
But Miles won’t need ESPN’s Kaylee Hartung riding to work with him this morning to know that LSU is not playing Furman this week.
“What it’s like is just a little more energy in the step of our team, their attention to detail is greater,” Miles said Monday. “Yeah, I enjoy it very much. I’ve always enjoyed the competition with some of the better teams in the country and certainly Alabama is that.”
But if the Tide are listening to their head coach, they will treat the week no differently than when they played Kentucky or Georgia State.
Saban did admit that “This is not the kind of game that anybody could not get excited about playing.”
Otherwise, the process doesn’t change.
“From my perspective,” he said, “the way we try to get ready for every game is sort of the same kind of grind ... getting your players to understand and anticipate what’s going to happen, what they need to do to execute, get them to practice and prepare so that it gives them the best opportunity when the game comes.”
Miles knows it’s different than, for instance, when the Tigers muddled through a bad first half before putting away Furman 46-16 in its last game.
“No matter what the coach said, it was Furman,” Miles said. “I could not get them fired up until halftime.”
No problem this week.
“Our guys are in college football for these kind of games,” Miles said. “We look forward to playing them. It’s a great opportunity for all. Anytime you line up against Alabama, it’s a rivalry. There’s national prestige, the want to make plays against a quality opponent is there.
“I think the greatest compliment that we can pay an opponent is our best effort, and certainly Alabama will get that.”
The greatest compliment Saban can pay an opponent?
“Look, we have a tremendous amount of respect for this team,” he said of the Tigers. “But we’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for every team we play. If there was a better way to do it, we would have already been trying to do it that way.”
Alabama is doing something right. The unbeaten Tide have had only one remotely close game this season — 49-42 at Texas A&M — and have allowed only 26 points in six games since then. Bama, which also sits atop the BCS standings, appears to be on track to play for its third national title in four years.
All the better, Miles said.
“This team, kind of historically looks forward to playing Alabama,” he said. “I think it’s the same this week. I think our guys refresh beyond the open date and really forward to playing the best against our best opponents.”
Saban countered that, “the more emotion you have doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to execute better. You’ve got to stay in the right place for who you are and what you do so that the choices and decisions and discipline you with play with is going to enhance your opportunity to be successful.”
Just another week?
At least one player at Alabama didn’t get the memo.
“This is an exciting game,” Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood told al.com. “If nobody’s excited about this game they do not need to be here. It’s just the tradition around here, man. It’s just awesome, especially playing against these guys.”