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Nick Saban Says Alabama Has to "Respect Winning" Ahead of Mercer Matchup

The Alabama head coach wants to see a full 60 minutes of intensity from his team on Saturday.

During his weekly Thursday night radio show, Alabama head coach Nick Saban picked up right where he left off from Wednesday's press conference. 

In response to host Eli Gold's opening question about how preparation was going for Mercer, Saban spent over seven minutes talking about how his team needs to play with immediacy, intensity and intelligence against Mercer.

"When you lose your intensity, you become pretty ordinary pretty quick," Saban said during the Hey Coach! radio show. 

He was not pleased with the intensity he saw from the Crimson Tide after the team took a 27-0 lead over Miami last Saturday. Saban said this is an issue he often sees on teams coming off a national championship season, particularly citing the 2010 team that had won 19 games in a row before losing to South Carolina 35-21.

"We got the lining kicked out of our britches and had a really good team, maybe a better team than we had the year before," Saban said. "But it was all because of the same thing, couldn't maintain intensity. Everybody was looking for an easy way. Won 19 games in a row and everyone forgot what it was like to lose, and that's what happened.

This team is either going to be above that and be able to get it right without that happening. Or we're going to have to learn our lessons the hard way if we don't learn how to maintain intensity for 60 minutes in a game, especially when you play a good team."

Alabama has won six national championships under Saban, but only one of those teams was able to repeat (the 2012 team.) The head coach said teams lose respect for winning when they forget what it's like to lose. The Crimson Tide is currently on a 15-game winning streak dating back to the 2020 Citrus Bowl win over Michigan. 

Now the next opponent ahead is Mercer this Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban said this has been a "very difficult week" for the defensive players preparing for the unique style of offense that Mercer runs. However, this game will be an opportunity for young players like Chris Braswell, Dallas Turner, Kool-Aid McKinstry and JoJo Earle to get playing time. 

Saban said Braswell and Turner will be stepping up to help replace some of the production lost with the injury to Christopher Allen. McKinstry will get some time in the secondary according to Saban. 

And the head coach called Earle "Waddle-like" when it comes to punt returns. Slade Bolden handled punt returns against Miami. Saban said they are still working on building Earle's confidence when it comes to returns. Earle had two catches for 25 yards against the Hurricanes. 

Overall, Saban is excited to be back in front of a full crowd at Bryant-Denny and encouraged the fans to be energetic and enthusiastic.

"I talked a lot about maintaining intensity, and I think great energy and enthusiasm in the crowd is certainly something that helps players do that," Saban said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing, come out and support our guys