July 24, 2008
HOOVER, Ala. - Alabama's senior captains Rashad Johnson and Antoine Caldwell spent Thursday morning in Hoover, Ala. at the SEC Media Days answering a wide array of questions. The following is a transcript of one Q&A session:
Alabama Safety Rashad Johnson
On the team's comfort level going into the second year with Coach Nick Saban: "I definitely think guys know what Coach Saban wants, more this year than last. Now, we know what he wants, and when it's time to meet, he'll say something, and everyone will start laughing sometimes. So there's more of comfort level there that there wasn't last year."
On Coach Nick Saban: "He's pretty blunt about what he wants, but that's what most guys want. You don't want a coach that beats around a bush and never tells you what he thinks. Most guys want to be told what they're doing wrong and how to correct things, and we don't question that what he wants out of us is good."
On the team's ability to finish: "Finishing and consistency is a big thing for us. Our season could've been totally different if we would've finished strong, so that's what we've been talking about doing during this summer."
On the team's incoming freshman class: "We have a lot of confidence in those guys, and we've already seen the way that they've come in and worked this summer. They've worked just as hard as guys that have been here - those guys are all about winning and it means a lot to use that they've come in and started working like everyone else."
On the team's season opener against Clemson: "The Clemson game is going to be a big game for us. It's exciting for me because they have lots of explosive players, it'll be a big challenge. It will set the tone for how the rest of the season will go."
On his own progress: "To be coming from a small town and to the big stage I'm at now, it's a blessing that God has allowed this for me. I work hard at every practice. I try to work and do what Coach says and be the best I can be."
On the team's first game against Clemson: "I don't look it as bragging rights. The ACC has great teams and the SEC has great teams. For our team, we're looking for an identity and so we want the game to show how hard we've been working in the offseason to get the job done."
Alabama Offensive Lineman Antoine Caldwell
On the team's offensive line: "We feel good about our line, but I don't think we've convinced enough people about how good we are. We do feel like we've got the most experienced and so we should be the best because we have the most veterans."
On returning for his senior year: "I feel like we were going to have a really good season and there were relationships that I was going to miss. I'm really big on not regretting anything and I was in NFL training camp right now, I'd be thinking, "Shoot, Alabama is stacked this year and going to win the SEC Championship and I'm going to miss it. I feel like the money will always be there so I just wanted to come back and be apart of what we're trying to do here."
On the team's incoming freshman talent: "I think the young guys we have coming in had a good grasp about things. Coach McElwain, the system that he's brought, is more friendly, easier to learn, than what we've had here in the past. It's a faster system where don't have to think as much and the younger guys have been in here this summer working with it so I think they'll be more comfortable when fall practice starts next week."
On the team's first game against Clemson: "We open with Clemson and that's huge, exciting, for us. It's rare when you start the season that your first game is one of the biggest and so we're excited about and looking forward to it."
On the differences between year one and year two with Coach Saban: "I think a lot of guys this year grasp what he's saying, that we have to focus on the process and not on the results. You'd think it wouldn't make a big impact, but if you think about it, it only takes about three or four guys to mess up a game and a season. I think the guys are buying into it now and that makes a big difference."
On Coach Saban: "I know he doesn't get the most love in the media, but he's such a geniune guy. He's one of the most focused and razor sharp guys that I've ever been around. He takes pride in what he does, and we can see him on and off the field, and he's always the same person. He's definitely a big influence on us."
On Quarterback John Parker Wilson: "John Parker has so much experience and that's great. I think he's going to have a breakout year because he's the most experienced quarterback in the SEC and he has the best line in front of him. People don't see this, but he's a real competitor, and I respect that, more out of him than on anyone else on the team."