Oct. 17, 2009
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Head Coach Nick Saban
Well you know I kind of had the feeling that his would be a tough game. Psychologically this is a tough league to be at your best every week.
Hopefully our players learned a few things about what it takes on a consistent basis to not only play but to prepare and do things right, make the right choices and decisions so that you are prepared to play and have the right emotional disposition and psychological disposition in terms of your intensity and sense of urgency about what you’re doing.
I’ve got to give South Carolina a lot of credit. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their team. I don’t think that we convey that well enough. They were four points losing at Georgia from being undefeated and having the same record that we have. They have a good team. They’re well coached. Steve [Spurrier] has done a great job there. They have a really good defensive team. Our defense did a fabulous job today.
Javier Arenas was not suspended. We thought he would be able to play today. He got punched in the ribs Wednesday at the end of practice, finished practice and wasn’t a big deal. He was sore on Thursday, did walk through, did everything on Friday, we thought he would be able to play in the game and he went out pregame warm-up and said he couldn’t move and it was very sore so hopefully he won’t be out for any extended period of time, we’ll get him back but No. 20 did a really good job out there today. Its message for every player on our team that sometimes we have a hard time getting the backup players to focus and get ready because they don’t think they’re going to play. Well here’s a guy that does a good job all the time on special teams, does a good job in practice and gets an opportunity to go out there and played a wonderful game for us.
Mark Ingram was fantastic, 246 rushing yards with over 10 yards a carry, best performance ever in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The offensive line must’ve been doing a pretty good job too against a pretty good defense but the guy ran with tremendous passion and heart and did a wonderful job out there, scored a touchdown. I can’t tell you, if we had guys that could play like that, the sky would be the limit in terms of heart and character that he plays with.
We shot ourselves in the foot a bunch today, had three turnovers in the first quarter. We had a whole bunch of penalties that affected field position event though we did a good job on special teams in terms of our net punt versus Julio having 75 yards in punt returns, but we also had some called back, and we also had some kickoff returns called back. It’s very important to play penalty free in the kicking game and that’s something that we definitely need to get cleaned up.
When you do those kinds of things, you’re not playing winning football. You might win the game, but you’re not playing winning football because you’re not playing with the kind of discipline and making the right decisions that will enable you to be able to continue to play winning football.
P.J. [Fitzgerald] did a really good job punting today, changed field position dramatically not only the length of the punt but with the hang time, they really couldn’t return them.
The absence of explosive plays in the passing game, the inability for us to throw the ball effectively in the last two games is something that we definitely need to get corrected. We’ve got to get back and get our confidence in what we’re doing and where we’re going with the ball and get comfortable in the pocket and get the timing back in terms of what has been very successful for us in the past and its something that we’re going to need in the future.
On the offensive line:
“I thought we played pretty well today. We have to improve in pass protection, but we opened up some pretty good holes and had successful ground.”
On Mark Ingram’s performance:
“He’s a hard worker and a great football player. As an offensive line, we’re lucky to be blocking for him.”
On the defensive line:
“We had a tough challenge ahead of us this past week with simulating (Stephen) Garcia as a quarterback. He’s a great athlete. He made a lot of plays as you saw today. We got a couple sacks, but he still did a good job taking the hits, stepping up in pressure, traveling and making plays. He’s an incredible athlete but I think we did a good job stopping the run. They hit us with a couple draw plays, but for the most part today we did a good job stopping the run and taking them away from their comfort zone.”
On his interception on the opening drive:
“He (Stephen Garcia) threw the pass right to me. When I got the ball all I saw was the end zone. I wasn’t going to stop until I got in there. I think that play helped to set the tone for the game. The defense played great the entire night.”
On the offensive line’s performance:
“It’s really easy to do a good job when you have No. 22 (Mark Ingram) in the backfield. He really inspires the offensive line when we know we have a good back like him. We knew what we had to do the entire game. We haven’t been producing. We needed to get the job taken care of.”
On the performance of the running backs:
“I think we have the best running back core in the nation. We all make plays when we get the ball in our hands. I was able to score and make some things happen when they gave me the ball.”
On final drive of the game:
“That drive was probably the best drive we had all game as an offense. We struggled a bit but when the time came, we came through in the clutch. There were times where I thought about coming out, but I stayed with it.”
Head Coach Steve Spurrier
“It was an interesting game, an interesting game in that even though they were running for a lot yards, we were right there. Obviously we couldn’t score touchdowns. We had a lot of backwards plays, a lot of penalties; of course they had a lot of penalties also. But anyway, they are a very good team and for us to win we had to play real smart and we didn’t. I don’t know how many penalties our offensive line got, and I don’t know how many sacks that maybe we could have thrown away. Our guys tired hard. I am proud of our guys and we will get this one behind us and get ready for the game next week. Alabama is a big, strong team and obviously they are a very good running team. They didn’t throw very well against us and our pass defense coverage was very good. We had a chance for some interceptions. I guess we got one fumbled back to them. But we didn’t play real sharp. To beat a real good team you’ve got to really play sharp. I don’t know why we had so many holding penalties, tripping penalties and we had trouble throwing the ball away at times, which we went backwards most of the game. We did a few good things here and there but not enough to get in to the game. Give credit to Alabama, they are a very good team, hard to learn against. Obviously they ran it very well when they had the ball. But anyway, it’s history. We’ll get ready for our next game next week.”
On trying to get the ball to Ashlon Jeffery in the end zone:
“Three times yeah. The first one he threw out of bounds, the second one Stephen (Garcia) made a good throw and the third one we were trying to get to another play, but he left it on it. We thought if we had 1-on-1 again we’d try it again. We thought that was our best chance, but hopefully someday we can run it in from the five yard line; we just didn’t think we could. We didn’t think we had a play that we could run it in. Obviously I guess we should have tried. That’s the way it happened.”
On Stephen Garcia holding on to the ball:
“We’re not doing a very good job of coaching him to throw it away, especially when you run out of the pocket. All you got to do is throw it past the line of scrimmage. We’ve done a poor job of coaching him to throw it away right now. That’s the only thing I could say. We tried to say, ‘would you please throw it away,’ and he did better at the end. Finally at the end of the game he threw one out of the end zone and they had us covered pretty well. He made some good throws there at the end and he hung in there tough. Obviously the first play was a real bad one. You’d think maybe we could run the guy (Mark Barron) down somewhere around midfield, but he went about 70 yards with it. That was a bad play.”
On keeping the score close throughout the game:
“Our defense hung in there. Our defense made some stops. We got some penalties on them. They had a bunch, 10 for 113 yards. We only had five but it felt like it was more than that. The sacks were about like a penalty. We just couldn’t get the ball out at times. But we did hang in there. Who knows if maybe Stephen [Garcia] could have thrown that one away before we tried the 50 yard field goal, maybe (Spencer) Lanning could have reached, but it was real short. I felt like we had to take a shot at the field goal at that point.”
QB Stephen Garcia
On his leg injury at the end of the game:
“I fell hard and just twisted it a little bit. It doesn’t hurt too badly, but there was a kind of a sharp pain when I planted on it.”
On the schemes of Alabama’s defense:
“They ran what we watched them run in film all week. We knew what they were going to do, we just didn’t capitalize on some things. The pick six really changed the game a lot. I know it was only the second play of the game, but it did. I missed a tackle on the play too, which made it even worse.”
On what he saw on the play Alabama returned the interception for a touchdown:
“We were running a cover two post and a streak route with Alshon (Jeffrey) and Moe (Brown). There was nothing holding the backside safety and I overthrew the ball.”
On how they recovered after throwing an interception on the opening drive:
“I don’t know how well we recovered from it. We only scored six points the whole game, so I wouldn’t call that recovering. You just have to forget plays like that.”
On throwing numerous fade routes in the game:
“There were a few I tried to force and put in too small of a spot. I ended up throwing a couple out of bounds and a couple too far inside.”
On what the team can take away from tonight’s game:
“They were beatable, but we knew that the whole week. We have a pretty good team as well. There really is no such thing as a moral victory, and we know that. We are just going to push real hard in practice this week and get ready for Vanderbilt.”
Safety Chris Culliver
On the play of the Gamecocks’ defense:
“I feel like the defense played with a lot of heart. The offense didn’t have the best game, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We really can’t do anything about it.”
On Mark Ingram’s touchdown drive, scoring on six consecutive carries for 68 yards:
“I wish we had gotten into a different defense. It wasn’t anything spectacular, he just had some good runs and some good blocks. We tried to come up with a play, but we didn’t. He really just broke through the line of scrimmage and got into the second and third level of the defense.”