Both Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher have joked about calling the other this week. And while Fisher can’t rule out doing that before, it’s still noteworthy. One of the last times the two head coaches talked was after a flash feud and a set of apologies. It’s now Week 6.
No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) will host Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1) in Bryant-Denny Stadium with an unclear starter at quarterback for both sides. The Crimson Tide is favored by 23 points by most books. Jalen Milroe may be in line to make his first career start as Alabama looks to avenge a 2021 loss with a similar buildup. Its running game may be the key offensively against one of the “top defensive teams in the SEC.”
The Aggies rallied off turnovers to beat Arkansas, which the Tide dominated in the fourth quarter and lost last weekend to Mississippi State, 42-24. The Aggies are 2-2 since the Appalachian State upset on Sept. 10.
Here’s everything Saban and Alabama said about the Aggies before Saturday night. What did Fisher say about the Tide?
MORE Tides: Nick Saban gives the latest update on Bryce Young ahead of Texas A&M
Analyzing Alabama’s run game: How the Tide creates a ‘guaranteed touchdown’
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach
On Texas A&M’s offense: “We’ve seen a little bit of both (quarterbacks). We don’t really know the circumstances of the situation, but we have to prepare for both guys. I mean, we do this a lot, especially when the skill set of the two guys is a little bit different.
“They got some very explosive players on offense. Evan Stewart’s a really good receiver.”
On junior RB Devon Achane: “No. 6 is really an explosive player, not only as a returner but as a runner and a receiver. I mean, this guy is a very, very talented guy.
“First of all, a running back is a mismatch position in the passing game and they do a great job of running them on difficult routes to cover, especially if you’re trying to play man-to-man. He’s very elusive, he’s got great speed and he’s a great returner on kickoff returns. If this guy gets in space, he’s got a burst so you gotta do a great job playing team defense against guys like that and try to minimize the opportunities where he gets mismatched on somebody. I think that’s the biggest issue, but the guy’s really, really a good player and a good receiver, good runner — he’s a good all-around player.”
On Antonio Johnson, A&M secondary overall: “Their secondary is good. They’re big, they’re physical. They’re very athletic at corner. They’re long. They got good size. Tackle well. Antonio is a really, really good player so they move him around some, he plays some different spots.”
On A&M overall: “So they’ve got a really, really good offensive team. They’ve got a really good defensive team, one of the top defensive teams in the SEC.”
Will Anderson, Alabama LB
On outside noise: “We try to approach each game the same, no game is bigger than any other one. Texas A&M is up next on the schedule, so now we will be talking about this game and in previous games, we talked about our other opponents. Texas A&M has a really good team, a really good offensive line, good quarterback. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.
“Like I was saying, I came here to play football. I don’t come here to write tweets. I don’t come here to go back and forth. People may try to make it a big thing, but at the end of the day, I have a scholarship to play football. Coach Saban brought me here to play football, he bought us all here to play football. That’s our job to go out there and make sure that we bring the best versions of ourselves on the field and make sure that we’re playing up to the Alabama standard.”
Will Anderson doesn’t have time for Jimbo Fisher vs Nick Saban feud
DeMarco Hellams, Alabama DB
On the Tide’s loss to the Aggies at College Station in 2021: “Last year was a hard-fought game. We lost it. It left a really bad taste in my mouth, other guys on the roster’s mouths. It’s something we definitely remember from last year and it definitely helped in our preparation for those guys this year.”
Dallas Turner, Alabama LB
On rematch: “I mean, actually when we went to Texas A&M last year, that was my first start as a freshman. So, I feel like it was a game that we have to learn from, and coincidentally it was my first game as a starter. So it was kind of rough at first, but it was a learning part for the team, and I feel like I learned from that experience.”
What the Aggies said about the Tide
Head coach Jimbo Fisher on Alabama: “They’re good in all three phases. Coached very well. Nick does a tremendous job, we all know that. They got really good players. They play confidently. They play well and they’ve built their culture to be the right thing. They’re doing well.
“The back, the transfer-back Gibbs is phenomenal. He can really run. … Their offensive line is getting better. Their tight end is a good player. Their defense with Will Anderson is outstanding. Dallas Turner is the other end. They got two of them that can rush.”
On the summer beef between the sides: “We’re in good shape, and we’ve moved on,” Fisher said per The Battalion.
Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M DB on Tide quarterbacks: “We have to prepare for both Bryce (Young) and what’s his name, Jalen, yeah. We got to prepare for both. No matter who we play, we just have to go out there and execute.”
Fadil Diggs, Texas A&M DL on the atmosphere inside Bryant-Denny: “It’s loud in every stadium. Playing in Kyle Field will actually help us with that a lot. We just need to communicate and get our signals in better, because like you said, it’s a crazy atmosphere. We just need to get our signals in and communicate up front and in the back end.”
ESPN’s Andrea Adelson and Dave Wilson chronicled the “big-money coach, a struggling offense and plenty of questions” surrounding A&M. It’s a good look at why some of the interest of this summer has not returned with the same fervor.
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NAlvarez@al.com.