Nick Saban calls out 3 Alabama football backups for CFP championship play: 'It's a lesson for everybody'

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News
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Alabama football coach Nick Saban made clear that three backups on the team didn't make the most of their playing time in the College Football Playoff championship loss in January. 

He didn't name the players, but he brought them up to make a point about being ready for an opportunity at all times when Saban spoke at the Alabama Football Coaches Association conference in late January. With John Metchie III already out and Jameson Williams injured in the first half, Alabama had to turn to its depth. 

"(The three guys) basically didn't do the things they needed to do throughout the season because they were frustrated with their circumstance," Saban said to the coaches in the room. "And this is a story you should take back to your team so players understand this." 

Saban, at the top of a clip shared on social media, first talked about Alabama being without starting corners and receivers. 

"So we're playing with some guys who didn't have a lot of experience, and it eventually got us in the fourth quarter," Saban said. "And we had the kind of team where we had a really good quarterback and we wanted to have skill guys that they couldn't guard, so we had two that were really, really good. (Metchie and Williams), and they both got hurt. Now we were playing with guys that typically didn't have to play at those positions." 

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These three unnamed players who had to step in were not playing as much as they wanted to, Saban said, and were outcome oriented. 

"They want to worry about how many balls they catch or how much playing time they get or whatever it is," Saban said. "So they don't focus every day on being a complete player at their position and they don't work in practice and prepare for the games because they say to themselves, 'Why should I do this? I'm not going to play anyway.'"

But when they did, Saban didn't think they were ready. 

"Not one of them, not one, could take advantage of the opportunity that they had because they had never ground through it," Saban said. "They never made themselves the best player they can be, and when they got the opportunity, they couldn't do it. It's a lesson for everybody." 

Five receivers saw snaps in the loss to Georgia. Williams, slot receiver Slade Bolden and freshman Ja'Corey Brooks started the game. Backups who played included Agiye Hall and Traeshon Holden, but Saban also could have been including tight ends as receivers. Tight end Jahleel Billingsley was targeted four times and had a drop, according to PFF's charting. 

Contact Alabama reporter Nick Kelly: Follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly. 

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