But not at Alabama, where the standard of excellence has created a mentality of not only winning, but dominating the opponent.
That 20-7 win at Mississippi State didn't make the top-ranked and unbeaten Crimson Tide too happy.
“No one left that locker room at Mississippi State feeling great about the win,” Tide center Ryan Kelly said. “We like the win because it’s obviously a win, but we didn’t like the way we did it. We left that field knowing that we didn’t impose our will on them. We didn’t feel like we dominated the line of scrimmage, and that’s one of the things we always work for every week -- dominate the line of scrimmage and move the ball really well in the running game. And I don’t think we did that really well.”
For the first time in a while, the Crimson Tide felt they didn’t make an opponent quit, particularly the offensive line. The Tide played its best half of football in the second half against LSU, but weren’t able to carry the momentum into Starkville.
“There have been a couple games earlier in the season, but recently we’ve been running the ball really well,” Kelly said. “I think this is good for the team, at least on the offense part because we know that we don’t want to have that feeling ever again. From this moment on we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do on offense and it starts in practice every week.”
Kelly compared the feeling following the Tide’s unimpressive win to last year’s loss to Texas A&M.
“I think so, honestly. It’s kind of disheartening when you work all week, and you go out there and you don’t communicate,” Kelly said. “We’re obviously going to watch the film today, put it past us, and all we’ve got to do is keep moving forward because we’re only going to be as good as (how well) we communicate and against LSU we hit on all cylinders, and if we can do that the rest of the season we will be fine.”
Similar to his postgame news conference, Tide coach Nick Saban continued to place responsibility on both the coaches and the players.
“Our team needs to pay attention to detail, get a better sense of urgency, a better sense of immediacy,” Saban said. “Play a little smarter in some critical situations in the game. I just think that this is something we need to do better as coaches in terms of getting the players ready to do this as well as them having the attitude that they can get taken advantage of when they don't do the little things right.”
Still, the benefits of playing in a close game weren’t lost on Saban, even if he’d prefer not to have them. The road for Alabama will undoubtedly get tougher with the Iron Bowl looming.
“I’d rather not have a close game, but at some point in time in the near future we’re going to have some close games,” Saban said. “We’re going to play against some good teams. Hopefully, the experience of what happened and the importance of keeping your poise and being able to stay focused on what you need to do to be successful on that play, are all lessons that are going to be helpful down the road.”