TUSCALOOSA — Nick Saban has given this Alabama team his early season stamp of approval.
“I sort of like this team,” the Bama coach said this week.
It’s not precisely a ringing endorsement, but it’s a good sign for the Crimson Tide. The top-ranked Tide have beaten a Top-5 team and dominated one from the Mountain West Conference while overcoming injuries to four linebackers.
The next task is another Mountain West team, with Colorado State visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night as four-touchdown underdogs.
Then comes the Southeastern Conference schedule — but Saban sort of would not like it if his team got caught looking ahead.
“I think we have a lot of players on our team that I truly, truly think have very good attitudes,” he said. “They’re working hard, trying to get it right, trying to do better.”
That’s part of his continuous “process” that has little to do with the opponent and everything to do with “trying to get it right.”
The Tide (2-0) already has toppled then-No. 3 Florida State and routed Fresno State. The Rams (2-1) are taking their turn at representing the MWC after beating Oregon State by 31 points and losing 17-3 to Colorado when two touchdowns were negated by penalties.
This represents a much bigger challenge for Colorado State.
“When you watch this team on tape — offensively, defensively and special teams — it’s probably the best-coached football team that I have seen in a long time,” said Rams coach Mike Bobo, a former Georgia quarterback and assistant coach.
Bobo brings a quarterback, Nick Stevens, who has passed for 985 yards in three games and also has an All-MWC receiver in Michael Gallup.
Some other things to know about the Colorado State-Alabama game:
New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll hasn’t really unleashed tailbacks Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, or at least they haven’t produced a big performance yet. Harris and Scarbrough have run for a combined 181 yards through two games but they’re still one of the Southeastern Conference’s top tandems.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts is easily the team’s leading rusher with 209 yards, including a 154-yard, two-touchdown performance against Fresno State.
Saban hasn’t indicated whether linebackers Rashaan Evans (groin) or Anfernee Jennings (sprained ankle) will be able to return from injuries. He also said he wasn’t sure if tailback Josh Jacobs will play after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury sustained in fall camp.
Alabama has a 28-game nonconference winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium since losing to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007. The Tide has won such games by an average score of 37.8-11.8 with nine shutouts under Saban.