Alabama Football vs. Western Kentucky Postgame Quotes
HEAD COACH Nick Saban
Opening Statement: "This game ended up being a little bit like I expected it to be, and probably different from what a lot of people here expected it to be. Western Kentucky, Coach Taggert, and his staff do a really good job and use a lot of pressure with their defense and a lot of stunts. They try to give you bad plays, which we had far too many negative plays on offense that really hurt us. They're stubborn about running the ball, doing a lot of different formations, being a little different in terms of having two tight ends and one wide receiver on third downs. They create some issues that are a little different for us, and they do a really good job with a control passing game, which they did today.
"We didn't give up big plays, which is really important and makes it hard to score. I was pleased with being able to get a shutout. I think the turnovers were huge in that. I don't know what we had, three fumbles and an interception, which is usually something that they don't do.
"It was a great atmosphere out there today. I was really pleased with the way our fans showed up and supported our team.
"There are certainly a lot of things that we need to work on and improve on rolling into SEC play. Arkansas is a very good team. Lots of people picked them to be the best team in our division, so this is going to be a challenging game for us.
"I thought Kevin Norwood and Christion Jonesand the receivers made some big plays today. I thought AJ (McCarron) made some big plays today. We didn't do a very good job in pass protection having six sacks. Three or four of those were just that guys got beat. A couple of them were pressures that we didn't pick up properly, so that's something we definitely need to get better on. We need to be a better third down team, probably. We ran the ball ok, but probably not as good as we're going to need to, so there is a lot of things for us to work on. I thought Special Teams was probably a plus for us today and that's going to be an important area for us to continue to improve.
"I really think that we fully expected Jesse (Williams) and Dee Milliner to be able to play today. We weren't trying to hide anything. Dee actually strained a hip flexor Wednesday in practice or something and actually practiced some on Thursday. We went out and pre-gamed today and didn't feel like he was 100 percent. Could he have played? He said he could play if we needed him to play, and I just didn't want to take a chance setting him back. I thought it was good that John Fulton got a chance to play and get some experience, and I thought John did a good job for us. Jesse practiced Thursday and practiced Wednesday. I thought he was going to be able to play. His concussion scores are normal. We never had an issue with them. He woke up today and had a bad headache. He said could play if he needed to. The doctor said if you don't need him, don't play him so we didn't play him. Hopefully that will give him time to get over that. Brent Callowaydid get a shoulder today, I don't know the extent of it and if he'll be out. Jalston Folwer did injure his knee. We don't know the extent of that. They'll do an MRI in the morning and we'll let you know when that happens down the road."
On if Western Kentucky was doing anything out of the ordinary on defense to cause the six sacks today: "No, I think all the things that they did were things that they have done in the past. Like I said, at least three of the sacks somebody got beat on the edge. Couple other times, we probably held the ball - the last one we held the ball, no one was really open. We just need to do a better job all the way around, in pass protection, in our ability to throw the ball with consistency, the balance and identity that we create on offense, in terms of what we do, I think is real important and they played us like I thought they would. Run the ball, shrink the game, complete a lot of short passes, and pressure like crazy on defense to try to give you negative plays and every time they gave us a negative play we didn't overcome it very well. When we executed properly, I thought we did a pretty good job, put some good drives together and made some big plays, but that is something that we definitely need to get corrected."
On nose guard Brandon Ivory'splay today: "Well, Brandon has done a good job for us, he did a good job for us when he played in the Michigan game. We played [Damion] Square in there at nose some and we also played Big [Darren] Lake in there today, who we thought about redshirting, but I don't think we have quite enough depth to be able to do that, so we are going to go ahead and play him and he got an opportunity to play some today too. Brandon did a pretty good job in the middle, we were a little soft on the run at times, but we need to work on that as well."
On forcing more fumbles than in years past: "Well, we have been doing it for two years, we did it all last year, we did it all this year. Last year we didn't get any more, so whatever we did didn't work last year. So we are doing the same things now in terms of doing turnover circuit, working on ripping the ball out, teaching guys how to rip the ball out - we did rip a couple out today so I think it did pay off. Every day in practice, first thing we do when we have a defense meeting is put up who caused turnovers, who forced fumbles, who got interceptions each day so that we positively reinforce every guy that is doing it. I think we are more conscious of what we are trying to get done. Last year as good as we were on defense, we didn't cause many fumbles; but it was a pretty good trade-off for as well as they played. This year, I think if we can be a really good turnover team and have a great turnover ratio. That would probably be very beneficial to us."
On AJ McCarronbeing finding multiple receivers: "I think you don't look all over the field - you have plays called, he's got reads based on the coverage. We were fortunate to hit a couple of big plays today and he threw it to the right guy, and read the coverage correctly and the receivers did a good job of getting in the right place and getting open. We need to do a better job in the passing game, AJ [McCarron] is a guy that is very capable of making a lot of good plays, a lot of good throws, we had a couple of drops today, not perfect passes, but passes that should be caught. We just need to get in sync in terms of what we are doing in the passing game."
#35 Nico Johnson, Linebacker On the defensive performance tonight and the shutout: "We pride ourselves here to stop the run, and that's what we did today. We knew coming into this game that it was going to be different, but we just wanted to come in and do our best and communicate and just keep working out there and get that identity that we're trying to get after. We just came out of there and had fun today."
On playing Arkansas and starting SEC play this week: "We just try to get better. We've got to have a better week of practice than we did the first two weeks. We have just got to keep moving forward."
#83 Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver On the team's performance today: "It was an okay game for us. We didn't play our hardest, but we made things happen as time went on. We know we have got to go back in and make corrections, and we have got to play harder for the SEC game down there at Arkansas."
On his performance: "I mean AJ (McCarron) was looking at me, and I just had to make the plays. I've been hungry for these touchdowns for over three years now, so I had to make the plays."
On the upcoming game at Arkansas: "We definitely have to take it up another notch. We can't play that way down there at Arkansas. The one thing we have got to do is go back there and make corrections and make sure we get our timing right with the quarterback and just look at film and see what Arkansas does."
#92 Damian Square, Defense End Talking about the defense's performance on the shutout: "The defense did well, but we have a few things we got to work on - a few things in the pass game and a few things in the run game. When a team wants to give the ball to the fullback, we have to get off blocks faster ... There's some things we have to work on all the time, to work towards perfection, that's the goal out there to be perfect on defense. Of course there are always some things we need to work on to get towards perfection."
On the turnovers forced this game, and getting to the ball and making stuff happen: "That's what we have been focused, even last year we weren't a team that forced a lot of fumbles, but we were just a dominant defense. That's a category we struggled in, that's a category we focus on. We have just been trying to get the ball out and make big plays so our offense can get great field position and put some points on the board. That's in our hands to for the offense to get great position, and at put at least 14 points on the board from us forcing fumbles and causing turnovers."
Head Coach Willie Taggart
Opening statement: "At the end of the day, that's what it all boils down to. We came into this game with two goals, to play good defense by stopping runs and to not turn the ball over, and we did the complete opposite of what we wanted to do.
We played the number one team in the country today. Whenever you turn the ball over you limit yourself on opportunities for possession. You kill your drives and your kill your team's positive mentality. It was uncharacteristic of our guys; never in a million years would I have thought that they would have played like this today.
I thought we were locked in to our game plan and our goals, but we just didn't get it done."
On Alabama's scoring drives: "They never really retained the ball. Our defense played well enough for us to win this ballgame, or to be in this ballgame a lot closer than we were. Our offense moved the ball, we moved the ball and then we shot ourselves in the foot when we did move the ball. It takes a lot away from your entire football team when those things happen, especially against the number one team in the country. We wanted to finish our drives but we just didn't, and it killed us. "
On Western Kentucky's running game: "Our guys did a great job of gain tackling. We talked about this game last week, and we decided that we couldn't do one-on-one tackles, especially not against Alabama. I thought that our team did a great job of getting five and six guys to the ball whenever they ran the ball."
On how comfortable the Western Kentucky players were in today's game: "Our players were much more comfortable with this game than they were in the past. In this game our guys made plays, our guys got open, and our guys had the ball. We just put the ball on the ground. It was frustrating, because it takes away from all the good things that our players did do. We just didn't take care of business offensively in this game."
#82 Jack Doyle, Tight End
On WKU's turnovers: "We've seen that in every game we've lost in the past four years I've been here. We turn the ball over, we lose. It was obviously evident today."
On if there was any sense of awe playing Alabama? "I think we're more of a veteran group now. Even early on in my career, you come the day before and see the big stadium, and then you're just out there playing ball. You don't even notice everyone out there."
#76, Adam Smith, Offensive Line
On holding their own as an offensive line: "We'll see the film tomorrow. Coach (Wells) always says never good or bad but I feel like we did some good things out there. We will correct our mistakes and get ready for next week."
On running the ball on 1st and 2nd down: "We came into the game expecting to run the ball. It was part of our game plan. Like Jack (Doyle) mentioned earlier anytime you have four turnovers in the game it's not going to turn out good. "