The entire season has been building towards this Saturday's Iron Bowl and Alabama returned to work on Monday to prepare for the game with No. 6 Auburn.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban spoke about the matchup for the first on Monday during his weekly press conference.

"The Iron Bowl is a tremendous rivalry game. There's a lot of passion on both sides. Lots of people are interested in it. It's got lots of ramifications this year. So as a competitor this is always a game that you look forward to having the opportunity to play in. And our team has put themselves in a position where they have an opportunity to accomplish something in terms of taking the next step that we need to take to be able to have a chance to be able to win the West or have an opportunity to play in the SEC Championship Game."

Saban praised the Auburn team quite a bit during the 15 minute press conference and it all starts with the head coach across the field

"Gus (Malzahn) has done a phenomenal job in my opinion. His team has improved throughout the course of the year and is playing as well as probably anybody in the country right now. All you have to do is look at statistical information."

Saturday's Iron Bowl will be the biggest game in college football that will have both conference and national implications, which can become a distraction for players.

"I think the most important things in games like this is the players can stay focused on the things they need to do to prepare. Stay focused on what's happening now so you can utilize each day in preparation and practice so that you can have the poise to execute."

Here are the topics Saban discussed on Monday:

  • Wrapped up Mercer win by saying the team played up to a standard and they accomplished what they set out to do on Saturday.
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick will practice this week. Andy Pappanastos is day-to-day. Christian Miller, Terrell Lewis, and Mack Wilson have not been medically cleared. Saban said he isn't saying they won't play but also not saying they will.
  • What he sees from the Auburn defense and what makes them difficult to face.
  • Ross Pierschbacher is also day-to-day and might be cleared to practice later in the week.
  • His impressions of Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
  • What makes Auburn defensive lineman Jeff Holland such a good pass rusher.
  • Rashaan Evans' development as a player and leader on this Alabama team.
  • The development of Jalen Hurts as a passer this year.
  • What makes Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson such a good player.
  • How significant the Iron Bowl has become over the past decade.
  • What changes he has seen from the Auburn offense compared to past years.
  • His impressions of the Iron Bowl before he arrived at Alabama and what he's learned about it.
  • How he evaluated Dylan Moses' performance against Mercer.

You can watch the entire press conference in the video above.

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