Bama tuning out hype of rematch with A&M

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Not many of Alabama’s players watched No. 6 Texas A&M host Sam Houston State over the weekend. The truth is they didn't miss much. The 37-point blowout was little more than a tuneup for the Aggies. But Alabama's players couldn't have named the score if they were asked to. Many, if not most, of them were too busy relaxing on their off week to find the nonconference game on the television dial.

Anthony Steen, the Tide's veteran right guard, was out at the lake. AJ McCarron didn't even know the game would be televised.

"Were they on TV?" Alabama's senior quarterback asked. At the very least, it was available online. "I don't have a laptop so …"

There was no follow-up question, though his trailing voice certainly left room to ask about his cell phone and tablet situations. It's hard to believe that an athlete in this day and age could be without some method of accessing the internet. At least then he might have been able to get a taste for what the environment at Kyle Field will be like on Saturday when the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide travel there to face Texas A&M.

It was typical McCarron nonchalance. He wasn't too concerned with anything when he spoke to the media on Monday. When asked, he said he had no plans to communicate with his friend, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, this week. The last time the two spoke, he said, was at SEC media days in July. And then, he added: "We're just friends, guys. Y'all make this thing a lot bigger than it needs to be."

Downplaying the significance of their relationship was understandable. But downplaying the significance of the game they'll play in just a few days wasn't possible. For the first time since 1988, Alabama is going to College Station to play a football game.

And that was enough to get McCarron excited.

"It's going to be a fun experience," he said. "Their whole 12th Man and everything, it's going to be a very cool experience for myself. Hopefully it'll be a good experience."

Steen said he watched the Aggies home opener two weeks ago and thought the crowd noise wasn't as bad as he expected. Still, it will be an obstacle for an offensive line that had difficulty communicating in its season opener against Virginia Tech in Atlanta two weeks ago.

"Things weren’t as loud as people say it is at 12th Man Stadium," he said. "We expect to not be able to hear each other, especially our center making the calls. We just have to stay focused and each and every person on the offensive line has to know all the calls for every position."

Steen, like so many of his teammates, downplayed the hype surrounding the game. There was no talk of revenge or retribution, just winning.

"It’s just one of those things where it’s in the back of your head that you lost last year, so you want to try that much harder to make sure you win this year," Steen said.

"I guess for some people it does [add motivation], but for me it’s another game and I know we’ve got to win it and I’m not going to go out there and come out flat. I’m going to go out there and try to play the best game I can."

Amari Cooper, Alabama's star wideout, said he doesn't watch TV and that and a Saturday’s trip to Kyle Field is only one step of many.

"We don't buy into the hype here," Cooper said. "I think all the hype is really irrelevant because at the end of the day you have to go out there and play your game. All the hype is really not real, you know, the things they say on TV and stuff like that. It doesn't line up with what's really going on."