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“I think in this case our players definitely respect the team that we’re playing, they’re showing good due-diligence in their preparation for the game.”

The presumably easier opener will give a young defense some much-needed seasoning.

The Tide has nine new defensive starters, including three sophomores. The depth chart released Monday also has junior college transfer DeQuan Menzie at right cornerback some five months after he tore his Achilles’ tendon.

Starting linebacker Chavis Williams is a senior but has played almost exclusively on special teams his first three seasons. The defense could be even more youthful if end Marcell Dareus isn’t cleared to play by the NCAA.

Dareus is listed as a first teamer but is under scrutiny for a trip to Miami. Saban said he had nothing new to report on Dareus. Sophomore Undra Billingsley is his backup.

The coach said a game’s the best way to test young players, not preseason practices.

“That’s ultimately what you have to learn about them: How are they going to compete on game day?” he said. “Some guys play better when the game comes and some guys who practice very well don’t complete nearly as well when the game comes. I don’t think you can figure that out until the game comes.

“If hot peppers give you a bellyache, you can’t figure it out until you eat hot peppers.”

Finally, a spicy comment from Saban.