Countdown to Kickoff
Week 1 SEC Teleconference Transcript



Aug. 29, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban
Opening Statement:
“I think first games are always really exciting for everyone. Everybody is certainly tired of practicing, especially against each other. We are really looking forward to the opportunity that we have to play against a really good, well coached Michigan team. They have a fantastic player playing quarterback (Denard Robinson), and it will be very challenging for us to contain him, to some degree. I think in first games you just like to see where you are. You like to know where you are, know what you have to do to improve and get better. It’s always exciting to have, for us at least, to have a challenging game in the opener. I think that really excites the players throughout the year and not just this week, so we are looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge that we have.”

On Brady Hoke and his Michigan coaching staff:
“I think their staff does a great job. He was a great coach when he was an assistant at Michigan, which is when I knew him. He did a really good job at San Diego State. Their team is fundamentally sound in everything they do. They have a really good scheme defensively in terms of the things that they do. Offensively, they have a really good scheme that features the players that they have. They do a great job on special teams. They do an outstanding job, and that’s got to be, to some degree, a reflection of his leadership and the way he directs his staff, of a very good staff that he has.”

On sustaining coaching success throughout the years:
“We are process-oriented in what we do. We are trying to make this team as good as we can make this team. You lose 25 percent of your team every year in college football; you have a whole different team, a whole different mindset, different chemistry, character, strengths and weaknesses, things that you have to do to work hard to try to get young players to have the maturity that they need to have to go out there and play winning football. That’s what we are focusing on, and we are not thinking about some result. We are thinking about the game we have this week, and what this game will tell us about our team that’s going to help us improve for the next week. That’s how you approach the season as a coach, and that’s what we are focused on trying to do.”

On defensive leadership throughout fall camp:
“I think the important thing for leadership is how they do it in a game. Coaches can always affect practice in my opinion; the tempo of practice, with their energy and enthusiasm. I think leadership can help that, and I think that we have some a few guys on defense step up and show some leadership, and I think that having them continuing to do that, especially in game-like situations, is going to be critical to the maturity of our defensive team.”

On this year’s defensive identity:
“I think the biggest thing about this defense, without making comparisons, when you have a lot of new starters it’s the experience that they have that we had last year that we don’t have this year. How these guys mature, how they focus when you lack knowledge and experience, sometimes you make more mental errors. What’s the consequence of that going to be? I mean to me that is the biggest thing that I worry about when you have a lot of inexperienced players and not a lot of starters coming back. It doesn’t mean that they are not capable. It just takes a little time for them to develop. Sometimes they can make mistakes in practice, and you correct them, but they always seem to have a greater impact when they make them in the game. Hopefully we will be able to minimize that and play well as a unit.”

On what needs improvement this year:
“I think that we have a different team now, but we have some areas that we feel are important to winning, like how you play in the red zone, how many times you score touchdowns, what is your third-down efficiency, how you run the ball, how you stop the run, how many big plays you make, how many you give up. Those types of things contribute to how many points you score, how many points you give up. We are constantly analyzing those things to see what we can improve on and the same thing with special teams. We take every area of our special teams and say, ‘why did we not have more success, what do we need to do to fix it?’ Sometimes we go visit someone to get more knowledge so that we can make changes that will make us more effective. We have done that on lots of fronts on our team to try to improve our team for this year.”