Countdown to Kickoff
Tide Players Talk About Western Kentucky Game



Sept. 8, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama football team met with the media at its weekly media day Monday as preparations begin for the Western Kentucky game on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be available through Crimson Tide Sports Network pay-per-view.  Here is what the Tide players had to say about this week's game in Tuscaloosa.

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson

On being surprised on lack of big plays: "We haven't had many at all especially passing. That's something we need to work on.  We had a couple shots down field, we just didn't hit them.  We've got to get some big plays; it's hurting us I think."

On missing deep balls: "The one to Julio was me wanting to throw it away from the defense and I threw it too high.  I could have put it out a little farther but we just missed it.  That is a ball we've hit in the past, and one we'll hit in the future."

On importance of offensive line staying healthy and being consistent in positions: "It's a pretty big deal.  Those guys came in and played pretty well.  Not playing together though, it hurts.  I think when we're healthy we are pretty tough to beat.  We just have to deal with it and those guys have to be ready for whatever happens."

On how he handles the breakdown in offense when he gets to the sideline: "When we go to the sidelines, we try to figure it out.  We want to make sure we know whose coming, and whether we are going to be hot or not.  Whether we have a free guy coming or not.  We try to figure out if it's something they are doing, whether they are playing games up front or sending guys we don't know whose coming.  That's what we talk about, who is coming."

On wanting to throw to wide receivers more: "It's not in the game plan.  It's kind of what the defense does.  We don't go out and say we want to get the wide out's ten touches and get the backs three touches.  It's just kind of what they are doing defensively.  We split the backs out a little more this game.  It's just a little kink we were trying to throw in there.  I think the big thing is getting the ball downfield and hitting some big plays to get some chunks because we aren't doing that.

Junior cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas

On getting knocked out: "It was a big hit.  I mean it happens.  We were fortunately in a good position in the game already, so I didn't have to risk anything and go back in.  I was out a couple minutes.  That was it.  I was ready to go back in but I had to take the proper precautions.  They took my helmet.  Yesterday was my usual Sunday.  I studied and things like that.  I am fine.  It just lasted for a few minutes and that was it.  The main word though is proper precaution."

On breaking school record for punt return yards in a single game: "I don't care.  I was just playing.  After I graduate I'll look back on it.  It means something to me now but it will mean more then.  Right now, I'm just playing ball.  I'm not really focusing on all that."

On returning a punt for touchdown: "I was just trying to move forward but a guy grabbed me.  He swung me around.  That's the only reason why I went backwards.  I didn't intend to go backwards; I was forced to go backwards.  After that I had to make the best of the situation so I just cut back across the field and from there my blockers took over.  The guys made great blocks."

Senior safety Rashad Johnson:

On not allowing a touchdown in two games: "It was mentioned this morning actually.  It's just a focus for us, when we get into the red zone to improve on our red zone defense.  It definitely wasn't as good as we wanted it to be last year.  I think we are doing a good job of that now.  I think it's just people more focused on doing it right.  When we get in the red zone, we all come together and are not going to let them in the end zone.  If anything we want to force them to kick a field goal and maybe we can get a hand on it or affect the kicker."

On how Mark Barron played: "He came in and did well for us. There were times when he kind of got caught out of place.  It was a learning experience for him.  It lets him know that he has to be ready because he could get thrown into the fire.  Anytime a DB goes down, he's the first to come in.  I think that hit him, and he's going to show up a lot more in practice and try to get everything down so he can play more. 

On having true freshman in the game on defense: "It's gone well.  (Linebacker) Dont'a (Hightower) has been playing well for us.  Mark (Barron) when he comes in has been doing well for us.  It's not really a big issue with the freshman coming in for us.  All those guys go out and practice hard every day.  They are getting better every week."

On telling guys not to focus on certain teams: "I think that's my job here is to remind guys of what we have to do and things to focus on to get better so we can go out and win every week.  So I'm not getting tired of it.  The more guys we can get to understand that the easier it will be for us to go out and dominate the games that we play in.  I mean we didn't play as well as we could have on Saturday.  I think guys were focused.  Maybe we just came out a little flat.  Tulane might have done some new things because they had a whole week of practice where they didn't have to worry about school or anything like that.  They have some good players.  They were very physical.  I can't take anything away from them and what they did."

On Rolando McClain's leadership style:"He has a crazy style.  He comes out every day and he's enthused.  I think his is a little different than mine.  They listen to me but with him he's more of a demanding type person.  He is a lot bigger and people are scared of him.  When you he says stuff they are listening and they are going to do it because they don't want that type of guy against them at any point.  He's a great leader on our team right now, and that's saying something because he's just a sophomore.  He's doing a great job.  He's definitely grown into the role.  Last year, there were times when we would have to say things to him to get him back on track because he was just a freshman coming in from high school.  This year he has been totally focused on his job, and what he has to do to make guys better and he's doing a great job of it."

Junior offensive lineman Mike Johnson

On watching film from Tulane game: "We learned a lot about what happened in the game.  It was just little stuff here and there.  I think it's easily corrected.  A little bit more studying of the film and it should be corrected by next week.  We obviously didn't do what we wanted to do up front.  We have two backup guys in there.  They did a pretty good job after watching the film.  We need to be more physical.  That's always our goal is to be more physical.  We came out against Tulane and played pretty good but it doesn't matter if we can't do it the next week."

On lack of offensive continuity: "Continuity is a big thing for us.  I think anytime you have different starters in there and you are working with new people, it's going to be something different.  You definitely don't want it to affect us but maybe it has.  We can't use that as an excuse."     

On the play Marlon Davis and Drew Davis: "I think they have worked great together.  They have worked together since the spring.  They are the only two players that have started together the whole time I guess.  They have worked great together.  Marlon has brought Drew along and that's part of the reason why Drew is starting this year I think."

On Mark Ingram: "I think with Mark, he is breaking a lot of tackles.  Anytime you see a young guy like that working his butt off to make yards for us, it makes us want to work that much harder."