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Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript



Sept. 7, 2009

Opening Comments:
 “Well, just a brief summary of the Virginia Tech game. It’s not a lot different than what I said after the game.  I think the key was playing hard in the game, playing for 60 minutes and winning in the fourth quarter.  I think making 13 explosive plays offensively was a real key.  I think we responded extremely well to adversity in the game, even though some of that adversity was self-inflicted and I make no excuse for that, relative to first game or last game. We need to learn how to play our game as a team.  You can’t tolerate mistakes.  We made some lethal mistakes in this game that are all correctible, but we have to quit doing that.  We have to play with more discipline. We have to put the team first, in terms of making personal choices and decisions, whether its technique, personal behavior, or whatever it is and everybody has got to have a personal plan to correct it.  It’s that simple. It’s my responsibility and that’s what we need to do. 

“These things are all correctible and we had some very positive performances in this game by a lot of players.  Obviously, Mark Ingram being recognized as the SEC Player (of the Week) and Mike Johnson played very well on the offensive line.  Our coach’s kind of picked Mark and Greg (McElroy), for his performance, as the offensive players.  Rolando (McClain) is the defensive player.  P.J. Fitzgerald probably had his most consistent day as a punter and (Brian) Selman did a great job, doesn’t get a lot of recognition, but recovered a fumble and downed the ball inside the 5-yard line. Those guys are the ones that we recognize as a coaching staff.

“We are certainly looking forward to our home opener this week.  It’s great to play at home. It’s great to play here where he have fantastic tradition and great fans.  I think our players are looking forward to it.  We certainly enjoyed the great support we had in Atlanta and was a very positive venue in every way, but we’re always happy to play at home and looking forward to it.

“I think FIU is a young team and has a lot of players coming back.  They made a significant amount of improvement from year one to year two. They have a lot of players coming back.  They actually have a lot of speed, a lot of team speed. They are a wide-open throw the ball vertical passing game.  The quarterback is back and he had a good year last year. Their receiver No. 4 (T.Y.) Hilton is as good a player as anybody in the country.  I think he was way up there in all-purpose yards or led the country in all-purpose yards last year.  They haven’t had a game and there are some differences in depth chart from last spring to last year to where it is right now.  I think they might have had some guys out last year that are going to come back and play, especially defensively.  This is one of those games that we need to focus on what we need to do to improve as a team. It’s going to be very important that we make a significant improvement from week one to week two.”

On FIU building a program with home grown talent:
“Well they have. I think 90 percent of their team is from Florida; maybe more than that, I did not count it all up. They have good players.  They have a lot better players than what you think they have.  They have lots of team speed and they have made significant progress, as I mentioned from year one to year two, and they are going to have a better team this year in my opinion.  So, this is going to be a completely different challenge for us.  They have a lot of great skill guys, a lot of speed on the field.  They are wide open, spread out all over the place, guys getting the ball that can run with it in space. It will be a challenge for us defensively and they’ve got really good team speed on defense. I do think this is a program that can be successful.”

On offensive line performance against Virginia Tech:
“Well, I think they played better as the game went along.  We had 230 yards rushing.  Obviously our pass protection, our overall passing game, even though we made explosive plays, probably needs to continue to improve.  I am sure as every one of these guys watches the film; they’ll see they have room for improvement, as we all do.  I was pleased that we were able to accomplish what we did and we actually played better as the game went on, which I think is a good sign.”

On why the wildcat offense is a tough adjustment for defenses:
“I think that (it is), we saw it in the NFL last year.  I think when people see something that is new and difficult to defend, which it is, because you create another gap on defense.  The quarterback is no longer the quarterback.  If none of the coverages that we play and if we play man-to-man, nobody has the quarterback. Now you put him out as a receiver and put a tailback in there, you have created another gap to defend on defense to run the same plays that you normally run. By using the motion gaps or speed sweeps, at least keeps the people on the perimeter honest.  Everybody is developing their ways to try and defend this, but I also think people are expanding what they do in this, more and more, that if you’re not defending the middle of the field properly, they are going to have some things they can do to take advantage of that.  Ole Miss has always been able to do that.  They could do it at Arkansas.”

QB Greg McElroy
On whether or not last year’s game against Tulane has been mentioned:
“Not yet. It hasn’t been brought up formally, but it’s still in the back of our minds. You have to understand that anytime you’re playing a team fresh off a big victory you have to come out and respect them like anybody else.  Florida International, we’ve played them in the past, they’re solid and they’re a good, hard-nosed football team.  They’re well coached and it’s going to take good execution and game planning to prepare for them.”

On whether or not he expects to see on the field what he has seen on film from FIU:
“You would think so. A lot of teams come out and do what they do. A lot of guys, depending on the defensive coordinator, if they feel they do things competently and have confidence in what they run, you won’t see a lot of changeups. You say that, but you have to be prepared for something different.”

RB Mark Ingram
On the “Wildcat” formation:
“I was pretty excited. It’s a way for us to get some of our more explosive playmakers the ball, put them in different formations and give them a different look. I was pretty excited about it.”

On his confidence level with the offense after the game against Virginia Tech:
“I’ve always had confidence in the offense. We’ve been together all spring and all fall, so I’ve always had confidence in them. It’s really the outsiders that were doubting the line and doubting the quarterback, but I’ve always had complete confidence in our offense.”

LB Cory Reamer
On the Tide’s offense:
“The new guys had to get their feet wet. We had a bunch of new guys that it was their first time getting any game experience. They did a great job though. They came out in the second half really motivated, moved the ball well and stayed composed. They didn’t have things go their way in the first half, but they really turned it around in the second half and helped us out a lot.”

On Brandon Deaderick:
“That’s impressive. Man, anybody who plays with three holes in their body like that and has been shot, it’s impressive. I don’t know how he did it.  He came back, I think the second day after it happened, and was out there practicing and getting some extra reps. For him to go through what he did, it takes a lot of courage. You’ve got to respect a guy like that. The great thing about it is that he’s got a new perspective on life, and really is not taking for granted what he has an opportunity to do.  He has really gone out and taken advantage of every day that he has. It really changes things around for him.”