University of Alabama Head Football Coach Mike Shula
Hawaii Game Week Press Conference
Transcript of Opening Comments and 1st Five Questions
August 29, 2006
“Good afternoon everybody, I hope everyone is doing well. Our football team is excited about the season starting. We’ve got by far our toughest opponent ever since we been here in our regular season opener. The kids have worked hard to come together as a football team in training camp. We need to have three solid days of preparation. Hawai’i is a team that’s coming in here, that is, just listening out of their camp, probably one of the best teams they’ve had since June Jones has been there. They are very talented on offense. They spread the field. (They’ve) Got a quarterback that can move around and he’s got a very good arm. (They’ve) Got wide receivers that can stretch the field and do a great job catching the ball and then running with it, making yards after the catch. Defensively, they like to blitz. They’re very opportunistic. They try to create negative plays and they feed on turnovers. Special teams, they do a good job. They’ve got two returning, a punter and kicker there. So we definitely have got to have a real good week of preparation. We all know our football team; we are going to see a lot of new starters on the field. But our kids are excited; we just need to, like I said, have a real good week of preparation.”
Coach, since you’ve been beating up on each other for about three weeks, I know you got a pretty good gauge of what you think about your football team, but you always have some apprehension going into the first game. What do you really like best about what you’ve seen out of your football team in this fall camp?
“Well the improvement I think. You go back from day one of spring practice to the last day of spring practice, I think the same thing in the fall practice. From day one of fall practice, now with the freshmen adding to the mix, until now, we’ve seen improvement. We’ve seen guys, our football team, coming together as a football team, learning how important it is to play as a unit, not as 11 individuals out there. When you seen some new guys, everyone is anxious to see what these guys are about.”
Coach, could you just talk about John Parker’s progression, where he’s at, making his first start and having to face a defense with all the unpredictability and blitzes and things that they use?
“Well, we’ll see Saturday night. He’s going to get tested for sure this first week against a very good, talented defense, a defense with a good scheme, a defense that likes to blitz. I think he’s improved, but he hasn’t played a game. He hasn’t started a game. Last year he did a good job when he came in last year. All the signs that you see as you evaluate your quarterback lead you to believe that he’s going to be a guy that we can win with. Now he’s just got to go out there and do it now. I think he’s got a lot of confidence in himself and the players around him, and I think that is very important for a young guy to have. And we have confidence in him too.”
Coach, in your experience as both a coach and a player, because you don’t have a preseason game, does it take that week one to gel as a unit, or are you guys pretty close coming off of two-a-days?
“We better be gelling, otherwise, we’re not going to have much of a chance Saturday. That’s why we try to scrimmage as much as we can, put our guys, and really all of us, our coaches as well, in as much game-like of an atmosphere as you possibly can. We scrimmage over at the stadium, all those types of things. But you still don’t know. You still haven’t played. So each and every year this first game is going to be the same way, especially when you have new guys, when seniors leave the new guys come on. But I think we’ve got some good indicators. Are they 100 percent sure that if our guys do well in scrimmages and those atmospheres is that going to carry over to the game? No, but that’s football. But hopefully they continue to get better and those things are good indicators that we can gel as a football team Saturday night.”
Mike, because continuity is so important on an offensive line, can you address the fact that you’ve kind of had your guards in out and you’ve flipped the tackles at one point or Capps over---can you just talk about what you’ve seen of the continuity and update the guards who’ve kind of been beat up?
“Both our guards will practice today. Marlon Davis and B.J. Stabler so, hopefully, that’s a good sign they’ll be ready to go. I think the rest has helped both of those guys. I think, yes, continuity is important. I think the one thing, we have been moving guys around in training camp and a little bit in the spring, and maybe if guys hadn’t played before that would make you feel a little more nervous going into this game. But I think most of our guys have got that experience. Justin Britt is new but he’s got veteran experience, just not at the offensive line spot.”
Mike, a lot of young and/or inexperienced guys at defensive back for you. If you can just talk about the pressure on those guys facing Hawai’i this week.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re young or they’re experienced, they’re going to have pressure this week. Hawai’i can get the ball down the field. They’re not afraid to throw it anywhere. They’ve got guys that can get down the field quickly and then they’ve got guy that can get open. On underneath routes they understand how to attack your defense whether or not your man or zone or anything else. They’re going to get tested. Some of the younger DB’s (defensive backs), if they’re on the field, they’re kind of like John Parker Wilson, in the same boat. They’ve just got to get out there and go play and believe that everything that they’ve done so far and that they’ve been taught just use those things in the game, don’t all of the sudden try to do things on your own.”
Coach Joe Kines
“We’re not disappointed in how anyone came out of camp, so we’re right there. We’re dressed and ready to go to the prom. Someone’s got to play in the band now. We’re ready to go but you’re not going to know until you get out there. Again we feel good about how we came out at camp. Those young guys worked hard in practice and we’re just hoping that will transfer over to the field. I don’t have any doubt we will play hard. Guys come to Alabama to be different; they come to win a championship. That part isn’t going to change.”
On Defending Hawai’i
“Obviously you have to get guys out there that can defend a pass. We’ll try to give them three or four different looks so they don’t zero in on us. You don’t want to put your kids in a situation where a guy can take advantage of that. We’ll rush as many as we need to get pressure on a quarterback. If we have to send them all, we’ll send them all. Hopefully we can get some pressure with a four-man, five-man rush and add to it whenever as we play the game.”
Keith Brown, WR
“Anytime a team hits a lot, it’s telling the receivers to get open, it’s coming to you. We’re ready for it, we’ve prepared for it. We’ve gone through all the possible blitzes and I think we’re going to be really prepared for the game.”
On John Parker Wilson
“He’s been throwing really well. From the start of summer workouts, just watching him back there and seeing how much he’s progressed is amazing.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen him nervous. He’s a real calm guy. We’ve gone through practices when defense have been whooping our tail and he’ll just say Let’s go guys, let’s pick it up’. He’s developed well and he’s going be a real good quarterback as well as teammate.”
On being a leader
“I know what it was like when I came in. I didn’t have a lot of receivers older than me. I understood then how important it was to have a person to teach you the ropes. When these guys came in, I was there for them to talk to about anything. It’s been fun to help the younger guys. You try to become a leader. I’m older and I’ve been through it and I’ve experienced it so it’s good to help them.
Tim Castille, FB
On the identity of the offense
“Ken Darby had 1,000 yards in his sophomore year and he played half a season and had 1,000 yards last year. We’re trying to get him 1,000 this year. So as an offense, we will run the ball on first and second down and on third down we’ll try to stop you and throw the ball. That’s basically our identity; just run the ball. If we can’t dominate the line of scrimmage, we’re going to have a tough time winning the football game.”