- Associated Press - Friday, January 4, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (AP) - Alabama’s team leaders weren’t thrilled with how practice was going for the BCS championship against Notre Dame, so they got their teammates together for a chat.

Crimson Tide linebacker Nico Johnson said Friday the meeting convened by the team’s leadership group before the previous day’s practice seemed to help.

No. 2 Alabama meets No. 1 Notre Dame for the national title on Monday night.

“We felt like it hasn’t been what it needs to be as far as intensity, as far as focus, as far as everything,” Johnson said. “Each player took it upon himself to give a little bit more, and that’s what we did. We’re going to try to finish the week out like we did (Thursday).

“We feel like if we do that we give ourselves a better chance.”

Johnson said the primary message of the session “was just getting back to what we do” and live up to the Alabama standard of football excellence.

He says no such wakeup call was needed before last year’s championship game because the Tide had a more veteran team, with leaders like linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tailback Trent Richardson. Alabama beat LSU 21-0.

Johnson said the Tide received big attention-getter with its loss to Texas A&M. This meeting might have been something of a pre-emptive strike, unlike the Aggies game, when Alabama found itself down three touchdowns by the end of the first quarter before rallying.

“That week, nothing would go right for us,” Johnson said. “Sitting back there thinking about it, it had to happen. It made us understand we had to play our best week in and week out. No matter if it’s Texas A&M or Vanderbilt or whoever. It kind of motivated us to finish the season out strong.”

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