Notebook: Johnson, others speak to team
TUSCALOOSA | Nico Johnson doesn't always have something to say, but on Saturday night, the University of Alabama's senior linebacker got everyone's attention after a 29-24 home loss to Texas A&M.
Monday, Johnson said he, quarterback AJ McCarron and guard Chance Warmack were among those to address the team following the game.
"Me and AJ (McCarron) and I think Chance (Warmack) stood up after the game and said we were in the same situation last year. We can't just give up because we had a loss," Johnson said. "The hope for playing for the national championship is slim to none, but we have to go out and play our best ball. We haven't played our best ball the last couple of weeks and it showed."
As two among the team's small group of seniors, Johnson and Warmack have the respect of teammates. But by their own description, both usually show leadership through example setting rather than by being vocal.
That changed on Saturday night.
"It's not my style. (But) that's what being a leader is," Johnson added. "You have to step outside your character sometimes. So if I've got to be a vocal leader from here on out, to get where we need to be, then that's what it is. That's what I'm going to have to do. If I have to pull somebody to the side and tell them they are not doing right...even if I'm not doing something right, somebody's got to pull me to the side and tell me what to do. But someone's got to step up."
The Crimson Tide has two games remaining in the regular season, against Western Carolina and Auburn, and can clinch the SEC West title with a win over the Tigers on Nov. 24.
Saban confident in Yeldon's ball security
UA coach Nick Saban indicated technique was at issue with two fumbles by running back T.J. Yeldon the last two weeks, one against LSU and another Saturday against Texas A&M.
"It comes down to the same thing - carrying the ball correctly. In one case you didn't get the hand off correctly, in the other case he was carrying the ball kind of low in his belly and got popped," Saban said. "Confidence should come in doing it correctly. We have every faith, trust and confidence in him that when he does it correctly he's not going to fumble."
Yeldon has rushed for 754 yards for UA this season, just 17 yards behind team leader Eddie Lacy (771).
UA defensive back John Fulton is unlikely to play Saturday against Western Carolina with a turf toe injury sustained against Texas A&M. The game provided Fulton's most significant playing time of the season.
"John Fulton has turf toe, a pretty good one," Saban said. "And he actually finished the game with it. It really swelled up quite a bit and all that. He may be very questionable for this particular game."
Fulton finished with four pass breakups and was named among UA's players of the week.
Iron Bowl time announced
Alabama's home game against rival Auburn on Nov. 24 will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and broadcast by CBS, the SEC announced Monday. The Crimson Tide's home game this weekend against Western Carolina begins at 11:21 a.m. on the SEC Network.
Saban said freshman wide receiver Chris Black, who recently returned to practice from a shoulder injury sustained in August, has been cleared for activity but not contact. Saban suggested playing Black, who is eligible for a redshirt, at the end of this season is unlikely. "I think it might be kind of foolish to play him because it would probably be a bowl game only type of thing," Saban said. ... The UA coaching staff named five players for weekly honors after the loss to TAMU: defensive back John Fulton and linebacker C.J. Mosley on defense, punter Cody Mandell on special teams, and Amari Cooper and Eddie Lacy on offense.
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