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September 22, 2012TUSCALOOSA | It might be a tad nitpicky to find fault in a 33-point win, especially when your starting quarterback is out of the game in the third quarter. But you don't win three national championships without a stern, laser-like focus to details, which revolves around always improving.
So it's understandable University of Alabama coach Nick Saban's sentiment Saturday evening after a 40-7 win over Florida Atlantic was that of correcting mistakes rather than savoring another blowout win.
After his Crimson Tide polished off its fourth win of the season, Saban publicly praised his No. 1-ranked team's overall performance, while at the same time acknowledging some red zone opportunities went unfulfilled.
Coming into the game, the Alabama offense had driven the ball into its opponents red zone 12 times, converting all 12 for points with 11 touchdowns and one field goal. The Crimson Tide remained a perfect 18-for-18 (14 touchdowns, four field goals) in red zone opportunities after Saturday's win but had to settle for three field goals once inside Florida Atlantic's 20.
"We certainly stalled out today," Saban said of the red zone execution. "How many times did we kick fields goal today? Four? In those kind of situations we're happy to get the points and very pleased that our field goals kickers are delivering for us, but at the same time we'd like to finish some of those great drives with a little better execution.
"I think up until today we had good red-zone execution, but today when we got the ball inside the (red zone), we didn't always take advantage of that. It's something we need to continue to work on."
UA players said it was a lack of execution that resulted in field goals and not touchdowns.
"We just had a lot of miscues," junior wide receiver Kenny Bell said. "We've just got to look at the film come Monday and just come back and work hard in practice."
It wasn't all bad. In fact, three of Alabama's four touchdowns came on plays inside the red zone. The lone touchdown from outside the Owls 20 came on Bell's 85-yard score early in the first quarter.
AJ McCarron connected with DeAndrew White for a 4-yard scoring grab, Christion Jones also snagged a 4-yard score and freshman running back Kenyan Drake added an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Still, Alabama wasn't pleased with converting only half its red-zone possessions into touchdowns.
"I mean, we just have to execute better," Eddie Lacy said. "There was a few plays where the defense just got us, you know? We basically have to just go in and watch film and see what they did and see what we have to do stop that from happening next week."
McCarron called it a day early, finishing 15 of 25 for 212 yards and three touchdowns and extending his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 176, just 14 behind Brodie Croyle's school record of 190.
Still, in his postgame remarks, McCarron didn't appear overly thrilled with the team's performance. He chalked the red-zone inconsistencies up to it not being the team's day.
"It's not always going to be perfect," McCarron said. "Some days, you know, things aren't going to go your way. You've got to fight through adversity, and that's what we did."
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.