The Alabama football team returned to practice to begin preparations for the Cotton Bowl matchup against Michigan State. 

Players worked for about two hours inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility before Nick Saban met with the media for the first time in about 10 days.

These were his key points during the opening statements:

  • The team was anxious to get back to work. The energy and enthusiasm was good.
  • The key to being successful in the postseason is keeping the players focused through the break.
  • 20 players graduated on Saturday and that makes 29 total graduates on this roster.
  • He congratulated the players that won individual awards but singled out the offensive line on winning the Joe Moore Award.
  • The team is healthy and there are no new injuries as practice gets started again.

The biggest overall theme for the 16-minute press conference how to prepare for the College Football Playoff. Saban has said for sometime - and reiterated it on Wednesday - that the coaching staff needed to do a better job getting the team focused on playing a playoff game rather than a bowl game.

"We certainly didn't do a very good job last year," Saban said. "I felt our players did not approach the game like a playoff game. They approached it more like a bowl game, which was obviously not our intention, not what we tried to sell to them in terms of what they needed to do. I think they felt a little entitled when they won the SEC Championship.

"This is a new season. When you get into a new season, what you've done in the past doesn't have anything to do with what you're going to do moving forward."

The team will return to the practice field on Thursday to continue preparations for Michigan State.