Countdown to Kickoff
Week 2 Press Conference Transcript



Sept. 3, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban
Opening Statement:
"Everyone thought that we were too young, too inexperienced and we couldn't handle success. Everyone was saying those things about our team. Now, people are saying something different. My question is, `What's different?' Nothing. We are still young, we are still inexperienced and we still have things to work on. It's going to be all about the maturity that the team has to be able to focus on what they need to do to correct the deficits that we have, whether it's individually or collectively as a unit on some part of our team so that we improve as a team. That's going to be important to how well we do. It's all about the progress that you make through the season. There's plenty of room for us to make progress. Successful teams are willing to do what unsuccessful teams aren't. That's what we need to prove that we are ready to do in terms of how we go about each week, each game that we play and each challenge that we have. That will be the most important thing with this team and how we develop. We had some guys that did some really good things in this game and played really well, not just the guys that were the players of the week. We talked about some of those things after the game. We also have areas of the team that we need to focus on improving. That's the most critical thing that we do moving forward. Some of the outstanding players on offense, players of the week Michael Williams and T.J. Yeldon, who was also the Co-Freshman of the Week in the SEC. Defensively, Dee Milliner and C.J. Mosley. Dee won a couple of national awards and the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Specialist Cody Mandell and DeAndrew White did a really good job on special teams. From an injury standpoint, we have four guys that will be limited to some degree today; Jesse Williams, Tana Patrick, Trey Depriest and Reggie Ragland, who may be the most difficult for this game. The other guys should be able to practice in a day or two. It shouldn't be a problem.

We are certainly looking forward to our home opener in Bryant-Denny Stadium. We had a great crowd and great venue this past weekend. It was great for our fans. We certainly enjoyed participating in that game, but even more we are looking forward to playing at home. I think all of our players love playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium and love the great atmosphere that we have there, so I know that the players are looking forward to that. I know that you all don't think Western Kentucky is very good, but they've won eight out of their last nine games, and they are probably one of the better teams in the Sun Belt this year, maybe the Sun Belt champs eventually. They've got 18 or 19 starters coming back from last year's team that won seven out of the last eight games after going 0-4. Willie Taggart has done a really good job there in the three seasons that he's been there. They do a great job in terms of putting pressure on you. Their defense really pressures the offense a lot. Offensively, the guys from Stanford do a lot of formations, a lot of shifts, a lot of motions and a lot of things that try to outflank you in a lot of different ways. This is a very challenging game for us. We are certainly looking forward to the challenges we have. They have a very good quarterback as well who has been a three or four year starter for them. He's very athletic and can scramble and run and make plays. This game is about us playing as well as we can play and improving as much as we can improve. We certainly have a lot of respect for our opponent."

On the two long passes in the Michigan game: "Anytime you give a 72 yard bomb and a 44 yard bomb, you know those are problems. They were both doubles moves, which take a long time to develop. We were in middle of the field coverage when they happened; both corners gave one up. Something that worked on going into the game, something that they had success doing in the past, and we need to do better, but we also need to rush better because it takes a long time for those plays to develop. One time we were in a four-man rush, the other time we were in a pressure, and we didn't execute the pressure properly; if we would have, they probably wouldn't have had time to throw it. Both of them were team defense things. Not one person was responsible. Those guys could have played better, but if we would have played better as a whole, probably would not have had the same result."

On AJ McCarron's success on play action:
"Anytime you throw the ball, the quarterback has to do a good job in terms of selling the play fake. I think when you run the ball effectively play action passes work extremely well because the other team gets zoned in to stopping the run. Now play action gets greater response from the defense, which is going to help you in the passing game. Route runners running it correctly, upfront blockers blocking it correctly are all things that make play action passes effective. We need to improve in the passing game, we need to improve on third down and we need to continue to make explosive plays on play action passes because we can run the ball. Those are all areas that we want to become explosive in."

On out-of-conference scheduling:
"It's difficult. If you are not willing to go home-and-home with somebody, which if you are playing a neutral site you don't want to go home-at-home in another game, so you have to get teams that will come here and play. What has been very difficult for the next few years is the SEC has to tell us who we are going to play and when before we can go and schedule other games. We are working through that right now, but I like to play teams that are not going to be so different that you are not improving your team against what they are going to face from other teams that you are going to play in-conference, if that makes sense. Playing Georgia Southern last year, that was a good experience for us, that we may have to play an offense some time, but throwing that right in the middle of the season, being so different, that doesn't necessarily. They did a great job, and I have a lot of respect for them and what they do, and it's a great offense, but you are preparing your team for something that is totally foreign to what they are going to see any other time that they play. We like to play against teams that have some carry-over in what we are going to do down the road versus someone else."

On the defensive performance:
"I think there are a lot of things that we need to fix. There are a lot of things that they did well. They played hard, and we were physical. We did a good job of stopping the run, which was our goal in the game. The goal in the game was to not let the quarterback run the ball, and he didn't have many opportunities to run, even on his own option reads we were making it so he was going to hand the ball off and make somebody else beat us. Did a good job of executing the game plan; fundamentally we have to do a lot of things better. That's what we are going to continue to work on. We got to play a lot of players which was good for their experience. We have a lot of improving to do in several areas that we are going to continue to work on."

On the running game:
"T.J. [Yeldon] did a good job, but we had total faith, trust and confidence in TJ. If Eddie [Lacy] couldn't have gone, T.J. was going to start. Eddie felt good in pregame, had practiced two or three days, so we played Eddie. T.J. did a good job, Jalston Fowler did a good job, Dee Hart did a good job and Eddie did a good job - they all did a good job. It was good that they all got an opportunity to play. Hopefully we will get Eddie more and more healthy, and he and TJ can continue to develop into a really good tandem with some other guys being able to contribute to that as well."

On Cade Foster's confidence:
"Cade has kicked with a lot more consistency this year; actually on kickoff, as well as his field goal attempts. He barely missed the first one, barely missed it, kicked it far enough, just barely missed it to the left. I think anytime you make a 51 yard field goal that is probably good for a guy. I think the important thing for Cade is he is in a difficult circumstance because he only kicks the long ones, so his make-percentage might not be as good as someone else's, but he is also taking the more difficult shots. He has to stay focused on `this is how I would kick a short one and I want to execute the same way,' and he seems to be able to do that a little better and has been really consistent in practice."

On new university president Dr. Guy Bailey and administrative relationships:
"I have not spoken to him, and we certainly have a lot of respect for the administration here and the chain-of-command that we have and how we have been able to have very good relationships with Dr. Witt and Judy Bonner and certainly feel like it's our responsibility as an organization, as an athletic department, as well as a football program to work well institutionally with the leaders of our university so that we can contribute in a positive way to the overall success of what we are trying to accomplish as an institution. We definitely are looking forward to meeting him when he gets here and developing a good relationship, good working relationship for the future."

On the value of the second-team offense finishing out the game Saturday:
"I guess it was very valuable, but they obviously need to do better; get a hat on a hat. It's probably good experience for them to get out there and get some of the jitters out and gain that experience and be able to learn from what they did or didn't do. Thought they would have an opportunity to play a little more, but same thing on defense, we thought those guys would have an opportunity to play a little more and we intercepted the first pass. We got to play a lot of players, but when we really put all the twos in, we intercepted the first pass that they threw. I was hoping that those guys would get to play three, four or five plays a piece, but we got to play a lot of players, and I think that was a good thing, especially as young as we are and hopefully we will be able to build on that."

It sounds presumptive to ask, but is there a plan this week to maybe get Phillip [Ely] some more snaps:
"That is presumptive, and it's typical of what you all would think and what our fans would think - that because these guys play in the Sun Belt they are not very good. It really is presumptive and so presumptive that I am not going to answer it. Look, we would like to play a lot of players. We would like to get Phillip a lot of experience, and if the opportunity comes up in whatever game that we play that is something that we would like to do, but to ask that on Monday is pretty presumptive."

On the veteran offensive line's performance on Saturday:
"I thought the offensive line, it's the first thing that I talked about after the game, did a really good job of creating movement up front, getting a hat on a hat; doing it on a pretty consistent basis, in terms of our ability to run the ball. I was really pleased with the way those guys played in the run game. I think in the pass game we have to do a better job firming up the pocket - quarterback has to feel comfortable and confident in his protection, keep his eyes where they are supposed to be down the field so that we can take advantage of some opportunities we have there as well. That's something as an entire unit we need to continue to work on."

On the new helmet rules:
"I think it's a good rule. I think it's in the interest of player safety. I think that we only had two occasions where it was a problem, and one a guy got a facemask penalty for ripping the guy's helmet off and the other guy claims that his helmet was pulled off in the pile. I think it makes players conscious of fitting their helmet properly and buckling it up properly, which is for player safety. The rule is to protect the player once his helmet comes off he cannot participate further in the play - and there have been some guys seriously injured because of that. So I think it's a really good rule. I hate to see players get penalized, but I also think players have to be responsible to wear their helmet properly and snap it up properly, so you minimize the risk of the guy's helmet coming off. I think it's a good rule."

#83 Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver
On the downfield passing:
"The main thing to work on is our timing and working with the quarterback to make sure we have the right steps and stuff like that. But that's one thing that we're going to work on this week is getting the ball up and down the field passing."

On how many explosive plays Coach Saban wants per game:
"Our goal is to basically get a lot of explosive plays and that's what we try to do at practice - get a lot of explosive plays on our defense, and that's the main thing we want to do to get explosive plays to help us win games."

#32 C.J. Mosley, Linebacker
On his first thoughts when he makes an interception:
"My first thought is to see who's next to me. Once I found out I had a little running room, I tried to get to the end zone."

On whether he played a lot of offense when he was younger:
"In high school I played running back every now and then...I broke a couple of 20- and 30-yard runs, but it's good to get in the end zone too."

On whether the performance on tape was as dominant as he thought it was on game day:
"Overall our effort and toughness was great. But a couple plays we gave up - some plays we messed up lining up and getting the right call - so we have to come in today and work on all the mistakes and make sure we don't do those again."

On what kind of mistakes the defense had against Michigan:
"Just minor things like lining up and getting the right calls, so it's nothing big that we can't fix."

On whether he was surprised that Denard Robinson didn't run as much as usual:
"We respected him, but our main thing was to just keep him contained, so if it was him running more or throwing more, our job is just to contain him, and that's what we did."

#89 Michael Williams, Tight End
On what the key to selling a play-action fake is:
"Selling the run. You have to sell the run. A lot of people expect the run, and we just figured that that point in time it was the right time to call that play, and we executed perfectly."

On the effectiveness of the offensive line compared to other years:
"I wouldn't say it's more effective, it's just more of knowing a lot more and being able to be in the right place all the time. Sometimes last year we may have been in the wrong place, we had the wrong calls. This year we know a little bit more about each other, we know how each other plays and we know each other's tendencies."

On the impressiveness of the running backs:
"We always tell our backs `you got one to beat.' And most of the time we feel like our best back will beat that one safety or that one corner or whoever they have to beat in a one-on-one situation. We'll cover up the down men and then linebackers and they got one to beat."

On the similarities of D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio:
"They're both great blockers. D.J. probably talks a little more than Cyrus just because he's been out there a little more, but they're both great players, and it's great to play with both of them."

On the advantages of having the tight end line up wide:
"It stresses the defense a little. You have to make different calls. You have different calls with two tight ends on the field than when it's just one or none, so I guess the calls of the defense could go in your favor as the offense."

#75 Barrett Jones, Center
On whether the dominance against Michigan was reflected by the final score:
"I don't know. After watching the film, I think we did some good things early. I really liked our intensity and the way we played, and obviously I don't think we played complacent, which is something we were trying to avoid. I definitely think the execution was average. We made a lot of mistakes, and honestly left a lot of points out there. I think we kind of let off the gas of a little bit in the second and third quarters, which is kind of disappointing, but we finished strong."

On his own performance playing center:
"I think I did alright. A lot of good things, and, a lot of different things that you can only learn in games. I think putting my head down especially was a big adjustment, and I've been doing that all week at practice. It's just something you got to get used to."

On the confidence of Cade Foster:
"He's been kicking the ball really well all season and all offseason, so we feel really good about him, and I think he has a lot of confidence this year. Even that first kick that he missed looked really good. Most kickers don't make a 54-yarder or whatever it was consistently, so I thought it looked like a really good kick, and the second one he knocked through really good, so I think we were really pleased with the way he played."