Defensive lineman Damion Square (92) and linebacker Courney Upshaw (41) celebrate after hitting LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson in last week's loss. / CW | Jerrod Seaton

Defensive lineman Damion Square (92) and linebacker Courney Upshaw (41) celebrate after hitting LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson in last week's loss. / CW | Jerrod Seaton

No. 12 Alabama’s fall to No. 5 LSU Saturday put the Crimson Tide out of the running for the national championship. The team has faced a mountain of pressure this year in anticipation of another title, but with a 7-2 record, it remains positive about the reminder of the season.

“When you become so result oriented, you lose the focus on the process of what it takes for you to improve and get better and play your best,” head coach Nick Saban said.

Saban said he has told his team over the course of the season that players need to strive to be the best player they can be, not only for the team but for themselves.

“It would seem like it’s some kind of pressure,” junior defensive lineman Marcell Dareus said. “But, we just have to hold it together to finish out the season strong. People build us up to so much hype, and it feels like we’re not living up to their expectations.”

Dareus said the team needs to stop looking for the outcome of the entire season and look toward the outcome of the team’s next game.

Center William Vlachos agreed that the end result orientation has been too high and the only thing to do now is push for those last wins and finish strong.

Alabama still has a chance to win a quality bowl game before the season is out, and the team leaders agree that finishing the season on top is not yet out of reach. With joint commitment to improvement in practice and correcting its minor mistakes, the Tide could wrap up the regular season with a fist full of wins.

“We have four games left including a bowl game, and I think every problem is correctable,” senior quarterback Greg McElroy said. “Everyone’s a little disappointed that we couldn’t make those corrections without having to experience a loss, but it’s water under the bridge and there’s nothing we can do now except for move forward and try to be the best team that we can be and finish as well as we possibly can.”

The in-practice corrections do not only apply to getting ready for No. 19 Mississippi State this weekend, they apply to the remainder of the season. Saban says that a lot of improvement can be made in four games and that’s all he and his staff ask for.

“We need to do a better job as coaches, as teachers, and players need to do a better job of focusing on execution, not only when the game comes but every day in practice,” Saban said.

“In everything that they do, in terms of what kind of people they are and the things that they do to prepare to play the game,” Saban said. “Whether it’s how you practice. Whether it’s how you eat all week, how you rest. The process of what it takes to be the best that you can, be rather than just getting the result. I know it’s my responsibility to get the results… I feel like I’ve been harping on this team all year long to build up a standard that we’re all going to play to and with the intensity and toughness and focus that you need to do it.”

The players are willing to step up and really hone in on the issues that could potentially stop them from competing in a BCS bowl game this season.

“We have to pay attention to detail, have a since of urgency out there, and really come together,” Vlachos said. “We know that there’s still a lot to play for.”

“We can be great,” Dareus said. “Just like any team that comes through Alabama. It’s just the little things, just finishing up on blocks, finishing up on tackles, blocking interceptions and covering your man.”

Although a chance for a repeat national championship is gone, McElroy said Alabama still has a lot to play for in the coming weeks.

“All is not lost,” he said. “We just have to regulate our confidence and go out there and excite.”

In comparison to last year’s national championship team, McElroy, having been a part of the glory, says that consistency and confidence is the key difference in this year’s lineup.

According to Saban, building a since of leadership amongst the young Tide will be a major factor in succeeding the rest of the season.

“It’s going to be a combination of the chemistry, the leadership and the individual commitment to make this 2010 team memorable,” Saban said.

“We have had some good leadership on this team, and I think it is something that we need to develop and grow so that we can continue to get better. The true test of leadership is how the team responds, because leadership is most effective when things aren’t going well.”