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January 7, 2013

Time to play

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | Despite a team meeting held in Miami to address a lack of focus and a pair of freshmen being sent home for a curfew violation, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is pleased with how his team finished its preparations for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame tonight.

UA linebacker Nico Johnson first made mention of the team meeting on Friday, at which several of the team's leaders made it clear that more discipline was needed.

Saban said the circumstances of the travel schedule at the beginning of the week may have played a role in the problem.

"I think that when we came here ... we had a practice at home, which is a little bit out of the routine. We traveled here, and it just seemed like we had a little bit of trouble getting sort of recentered and refocused on what we neededto do," Saban said in his last remarks to the media before the game. "And we had to have a little meeting to try to get everybody back on track. But since that time, I feel really good about the way our players have responded."

Among other activities that will keep the players close in the 24-36 hour window before kickoff, the team was scheduled to see a movie as a group Sunday night, though Saban was unsure of the title choice. On Saturday, veteran players echoed Saban's contention that the team has reclaimed the business-trip perspective that most had embraced since landing in Miami.

Apart from team focus, Saban said the five weeks that separated the Southeastern Conference Championship Game from the BCS title game create "a one-game season" that is another challenge in preparation.

"I think in bowl games in general, psychological disposition is really, really important because I've talked before about how it's so difficult to bring the momentum of the season to this game," Saban said, "regardless of where you were when the season ended, because there's such a separation between the two."

TideSports.com Recruiting: Alabama commitments and Tide targets talk BSC game and prediction

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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