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Week 3 Press Conference Transcript



Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening Statement:

“This was not our best game (Western Kentucky). It’s a little predictable that when you don’t focus and pay attention to detail like you need to, whether it’s in preparation or actually in your performance, things don’t usually go as well as you’d like them to. We probably learned something about that relative to the last game, not taking anything away from the other team. They played hard. They played well. When you watch the film, there was a lot of lack of focus and attention to detail in doing little things correctly, which usually can bite you in the you know what. It did at times, whether we got sacked or didn’t block a back or run through or didn’t cover them exactly right on defense on third down or whatever the situation was. Our focus for that game was to improve and to get better as a team.

Peyton Manning made a great statement this year when everybody was making a big deal about how he played. It’s one game. The Michigan game is one game. How you progress through the season is the most important thing. How you improve through the season. The challenges are going to get greater all the time. That’s what we want our players to focus on and do. We certainly have a greater challenge this week.

Our players of the week were AJ McCarron and Kevin Norwood on offense, Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley on defense and Cade Foster and John Fulton on special teams.

I think all the injured guys will be back practicing today. Dee Milliner, Jesse Williams, Reggie Ragland and Brent Calloway should all be able to practice. Jalston Fowler will have surgery on his knee and is most likely going to be out for the season. Jalston has been a great player in the program and a really great special teams guy. He’s been a great backup player for us, really good attitude guy, a lot of character and a really good competitor. I know he feels badly, and we feel badly too for him that he can’t be a part of and continue to contribute to our team this year.

We are playing a really good Arkansas team. Regardless of what happened last week, that doesn’t change how we feel and how we respect their players and the team that they have. They have a very good team. They had some very difficult misfortune in the last game that they weren’t able to overcome. We still have to expect that we are going to get their very best performance. We need to have our very best performance if we are going to be able to play the kind of game that we need to play on the road to have a chance to be successful against what we think is a very good team. They have a lot of starters back, and they have a lot of experienced players. They have a very good quarterback, the best quarterback that we’ve played since maybe last year when we played against them. They’ve got a good running back. They play well on special teams. They’ve got some significant players back on defense. They have very good special teams, very good specialists. This is a good team in our league and our division. It makes it a very important game. It’s going to take our best performance to have a chance to be successful.”

On how running back Jalston Fowler’s injury affects other players:

“Well, I think we have what we have, and we have backups at every one of the positions and roles that he [Jalson Fowler] filled, so there won’t be one particular guy – I think on special teams there is a different guy on each special teams that actually will take his place now. At running back, Dee Hart and Kenyan Drake will now have a little more opportunity. Kelly [Johnson] was his backup at fullback, which is what he plays anyways so, we are going to miss him, but it is going to take a number of people to replace him in the various roles that he played on our team.”

On cleaning up pass protection:

“Well, I think most of the time when you get beat, is it what the other guy did or is it what you did? And a lot of times we didn’t play very well fundamentally, we didn’t set properly, we didn’t look at the right things, we didn’t pay attention to detail. You get a little behind in the down because the guy beat you and you didn’t play the right way, you don’t give yourself the best chance to be successful. On several occasions that is what happened. It is something that we have to get corrected; our guys have to pay more attention to detail, focus on doing the little things right. You don’t get re-dos so, when the quarterback gets hit that is not ever good. We just need to do a better job in that regard all the way around.”

On if offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier looking forward to facing his old coach:

“You probably ought to ask him. I didn’t ask him about it so I don’t really know, you could ask him. You have permission to ask him. It’s really high on my priority list, I’m going to run out of here and ask him; not worried about them passing for 340 yards a game or anything like that. So, just want to make sure he is alright.”

On if Coach Saban would rather be facing Arkansas without them losing to the University of Louisiana-Monroe last week and how the team is preparing for Tyler Wilson to or not to play:

“Nobody here should be feeling warm and cozy about the other team’s circumstance or situation. We need to be thinking about what we need to do to be successful. Regardless of who plays in the game, they have a lot of players that are very capable of making plays and having success. Regardless of who plays quarterback, whoever prepares to play in their system is probably going to be a pretty effective player that we are going to have to do things correctly to be able to stop. Tyler Wilson is a great player; you don’t like to really see anybody ever get injured. He is great for our league, he is great for the fans and he is certainly a very challenging competitor that we have to play against, and we hope he is okay. Whoever plays, we are going to have to do a good job of executing, and do our best job and it really doesn’t matter what happened last week – I’m sure we are going to get their best game.”

On Arkansas head coach John L. Smith:

“I don’t know John L. [Smith] really well. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect of him. He has done a really good job everywhere he has coached. He was at Michigan State, where I know a lot of people who knew him when he was there; did a really good job at Louisville. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach, and I think he has always done a good job – and I am sure he will do a good job with these guys.”

On forcing turnovers and if there has been any new emphasis from last year:

“Like I said after the game, we have done the same kind of emphasis, done the same things to try to get turnovers, and we did all last year. We actually visited in the offseason to see how they were the great turnover teams – whether they were in the NFL or in college – what some of the things they were doing to emphasize getting turnovers. We have been doing that for over a year now, last year we didn’t get them, this year we have gotten a few. I think that we want to continue to emphasize it because I think this is always something that has a significant impact on the outcomes of games and ball security is important for us and getting turnovers is important as well.”

On the difference between this team and the 2010 team:

“I think there are a lot of similarities because we had a lot of inexperienced guys playing on both of those teams. I think we had nine new starters in 2010, now we have seven or eight new starters on this team; but we used a lot of players last year and a lot of different situations and all that and some of those guys are gone too, that were just specialty players. Nobody says Nick Gentry was a starter, but he played as much as Josh Chapman, who everybody says was a starter, but they played in completely different roles and completely different situations, well both of them are gone. So it’s not just the starters, it’s the guys who contributed in a lot of different roles. I know we have a lot of young players who don’t have a lot of experience, we just need to keep working every day to try to get them as many repetitions as we can so that they can go out and perform and not make a lot of mental errors that are going to have significant consequences for us.”

On what different things Coach Saban has seen in the offseason from this team compared to 2010:

“I have said this on several occasions: this team has done everything we asked them to do up to the Michigan game. They didn’t really respond the way we wanted last week, but to me an identity is created over an entire season, over a complete body of work. Just like Peyton Manning said, ‘one game doesn’t make a season.’ So, how you progress through the season, how you improve, and what your attitude toward that is really critical to becoming a very good team. Consistency and performance defines that in a large degree. Now does this team have the maturity to do that? That’s what we have to continue working on, not just with the players who don’t have a lot of experience, but with the ones who have experience, to drive the leadership, to try to buy into understanding what is important, to progressing through the season. I think I might have said this once before, but the season is a grind. You have to embrace the grind. It’s as simple as that; it’s the way it is. That takes a lot of determination to be able to do that, but that is really the fact of the matter.”

On the depth of the defensive line:

“I have been pleased with the way our guys have played upfront. We’re still trying to work through who can play what roles, what they can learn. You know we have five or six guys that have some experience, but when we look at edge rushers and inside rushers and some of the younger players that we are trying to bring along, we are sort of developing those roles and it’s how much they can take on as well. We can’t give them too much, they are just going to have to learn and grow with the experience that they get, but we have some decent young guys, we just have to keep trying to develop them.”

On Nussmeier and Stoutland serving on a John L. Smith staff and if that is an asset:

“I think that John L. is a very good coach, but the systems that they are running there are totally congruent that the offense they ran last year, which was Coach Petrino’s and the defensive coordinator comes from Ohio State and they are doing the same kind of stuff they were doing at Ohio State. If John L. was calling the plays or running the defense or something like that, that may be something that would be beneficial, but we are just trying to look at what they do and do the best job we can getting our players in the best position to have a chance to be successful.”

On Nick Perry’s increased role:

“Nick did a nice job. We played him in regular, he started at safety. Robert [Lester] and Vinnie [Sunseri] are strong safety types and HaHa [Clinton-Dix] and Nick [Perry] are a little more free safety types. We were playing Robert and Vinnie at the same time in regular and we felt like we needed more of a free safety type, which guys like Rashad Johnson have done a good job for us. So, Nick did a really good job in the game and that was the reason we did that in regular. In nickel, we stayed intact, because HaHa was already in the game and Vinnie played star, so we just didn’t have opportunity to play a lot of nickel in the last game. Nick did a good job, very conscientious, very smart, does a good job of making sure he is ready to do his job well, and he is going to have to play some roles this week that will be a little different for him as well.”

On Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson as pass rushers:

“I think that any time you play against a team capable of throwing the ball, now I also think this team is capable of running the ball, we need to be ready to defend that. If we are fortunate enough to create passing situations, probably one of the best ways to play successful pass defense is to pressure the quarterback, so obviously if you have good edge rushers and you have good push in the pocket in the middle, the combination of those two things can be very beneficial to affecting the quarterback and I think it will be really important in this game. I think that Adrian and Xzavier both have done a decent job to this point and I think both are capable of being a factor in terms of pass rush and it’s going to be important that they are a factor in this game.”

#37, Robert Lester, Defensive Back

On the Western Kentucky game:

“I think we did a pretty good job. Anytime a defense can force four turnovers and keep them from scoring, I think that’s a job well done.”

On playing in Bryant-Denny stadium:

“It’s always great to play in front of your fans. To hear them cheering for you when you did something good, and even if something goes wrong they’re motivating you and they’re behind you. It always feels good to play in front of your fans.”

On what he took away from the Western Kentucky game:

“There are always things we can correct. We give the tape to Arkansas. Arkansas sees our mistakes, and they’re going to try and capitalize on those mistakes and make their big plays, so we sit there and we watch the things we messed up in that game and try to fix them so that whenever we see it from another opponent, not necessarily from Arkansas but from other teams we will know what to do.”

On Deion Belue’s performance:

“Deion is a smart guy. He is very talented. Those are things that you expect to come his way. In the Western Kentucky game they flowed his way.”

On playing Arkansas away:

“I remember playing in 2010, being nervous and not really knowing what to expect and the crowd playing a huge factor in my performance. Going into games like that you need to make sure that the young guys are ready and know what to expect. You need to make sure that they don’t fold under the pressure and that they actually go out there and perform the way that they can.”

On if he calms the younger players down now that he is a veteran in the secondary:

“Of course. That’s exactly what Mark Barron did when I was one of those nervous guys and didn’t really know what to expect. He told me things that calmed me down and let me go out there and make the plays that I did.”

On Tyler Wilson:

“He reminds me of Ryan Mallett. They always keep great quarterbacks. He is a guy that can make plays. He is smart, and he has managed the offense. Even if he doesn’t play, Arkansas has backups that are very capable of doing the same thing.”

On if not knowing who is going to play quarterback factors into preparation:

“I don’t really think so. We know that they are going to have a talented quarterback back there to manage the game. Whoever they decide to play, we just have to be prepared for.”

#83 Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver

On the game against Western Kentucky:

“It was a pretty good game for us. We came out swinging. It was a physical game for us, but at the same time we didn’t play our best. That’s one thing we have to fix this week. Today we have to make corrections and get ready for Arkansas.”

On his performance and what he could have done better:

“I think I performed pretty well. I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities. I think I could’ve done better blocking-wise, but catching-wise I think I did pretty well. I only had one drop, but out of all the catches and passes that were thrown to me, that one drop kind of messed up my whole day because I really don’t like dropping balls. I kind of dwelled on that a lot, but I had to move on from it. Besides that it was a pretty good game.”

On AJ McCarron’s performance and the passing game:

“One thing we worked on this summer was the passing game and getting our timing right with the quarterback and receivers and making sure we get open for them. It starts with the offensive line, for them for be able to block for it for AJ. For us to get open for him has worked out well for us. That’s one thing we worked on this summer. AJ is a great quarterback. He’s a great leader. He has great accuracy. With him being our quarterback it makes it easy for us receivers to make plays for him.

On the timing between AJ McCarron and the wide receivers being a part of their success:

“One thing we pride ourselves on is getting open for AJ and letting him give us a chance to make plays.”

On Arkansas’ defense:

“I haven’t really watched film on them, but some of their players from last year are gone. They’re physical. They have a physical defense. They’re going to press on us, I’m pretty sure.  We just have to be able to give AJ the opportunity to throw us the ball again.”

On the matchup between Alabama’s red zone offense Arkansas’s red zone defense:

”That’s most definitely one thing that we need to work on. Last year we didn’t really get the job done, but this year we’ve worked really hard for it. Another thing we need to work on is third down—third and long, third and short, being able to make first downs. Most definitely red areas are going to be a real challenge for us this week.”

On how he works to prevent turnovers:

“If you go into a game thinking about turning the ball over then most likely you’re going to turn the ball over. Coach Saban has taught us a lot of discipline with ball security and keeping the ball high and tight. If we go into the game not worrying about turnovers and just playing the way we should play, then we shouldn’t have to worry about turnovers.”

On the effect that Arkansas’ environment will have on him:

“Going to any away game, having to play in a tough environment is going to be tough. We just have to stay focused. It’s going to be loud, but one thing we practice on is being able to hear AJ in the huddle. So we’re going to practice that this week and we should be fine.”

#35 Nico Johnson, Linebacker

On the game against Western Kentucky:

“I think as far as the effort and the toughness standpoint, we played well.  I don’t think the execution and focus were all there like they were supposed to be. Some of my other teammates probably agree with me. I don’t think we played to (Alabama’s) standard. We have to come in this week and correct all those mistakes and put that week behind us and learn from mistakes we made in week two. We play Arkansas this week—they may see something they like and bring it to their game plan like Western Kentucky did when we made mistakes in the Michigan game. We just have to continue to get better and eliminate those little errors.”

On the turnovers forced against Western Kentucky:

“Coach preached to us about winning the turnover margin. He feels like if we win the turnover margin, then at least three points or a touchdown could come out of each one. If we do that then we should be successful. We want to be able to knock the ball instead of ripping the ball out, because I think last year or the year before last year we were like 118th out of a lot of people in turnovers, so we want to come in this year just knocking the ball off people and having fun and creating turnovers. That’s what we tried to do this weekend, and fortunately we did it.”

On Arkansas’ offense and Tyler Wilson:

“He’s intelligent. Watching film on him and playing against him last year—he has skills. Whether he plays or not, we have to come in this game with the mindset of affecting the quarterback the best we can and keep creating turnovers. One thing I expect going into every game is to affect the quarterback and stop the run, and if we do that then we should be okay.”

On Arkansas’ offense being explosive:

“They are [explosive]. It’s been like that for a while with Arkansas. They always have a very good offense, good receivers, good running back, good quarterback. We’re going to have to go in and have a good week this week and see what happens.”

On Arkansas’ environment being loud:

“It is (going to be loud), coming off the week they had and the week we had. It’s always a rivalry type of atmosphere. We know it’s going to be loud, we know it’s going to be an emotional game for them and us, so we’re going to have to go in with the right mindset and the right intensity and get the job done.”

#65 Chance Warmack, Offensive Lineman

On the film from the game against Western Kentucky being frustrating or encouraging:

“You can look at it in two lights. It’s all about correcting your mistakes. We look at it as something we need to work on. We’re not perfect. We made a lot of mistakes in this game, and we just have to correct them.”

On the mistakes made in the game against Western Kentucky:

“Communication, for one. Some people weren’t on the same page, in terms of communication. Technique is another. You can’t be sloppy. Depending on who you play, sometimes you think that you can take plays off, and you can’t do that. You have to play every play like you’re playing a high opponent. Some plays we didn’t execute.”

On losing Jalston Fowler:

“He is a phenomenal player. He brought a lot to the offense. I don’t want to count him out early just yet because I don’t know the specifics of his injury, but he is a great guy and he brought a lot to the offense. He is a very powerful running back. I haven’t spoken with him yet. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but I was praying for him as soon as I saw him [injured] on the field. I just hope that he gets better.”

On giving up six sacks:

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take it personally. We have to improve our pass protection a lot. This week we’re playing a very skilled opponent, as far as the defense goes. We just have to improve on that.”

On not playing to their standards in the game against Western Kentucky:

“No, we didn’t at all. We all feel the same way about how we played on Saturday. We need to get better as a group, collectively, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do that as a group, so we’re going to do that.”

On statistics depicting Arkansas’ defense as being weak:

“You can’t go off statistics. You have to go off of what you actually see. Western Kentucky has a very good defense and Arkansas has a very good defense, and we have to prepare for Arkansas just like we needed to prepare for Western Kentucky.”

On the talent of SEC’s defensive linemen:

“They’re phenomenal defensive linemen, day in and day out, whether in practice or in the game. You have to be on your A-game when you go against them, because if you take one play off you might get beat. We take pride in playing against the best here, as far as playing defensive linemen. In the SEC in general, we see good defensive linemen all the time. In any conference, you’ll have good defensive linemen or defensive end. You just have to respect it and play against it the right way.”

On going for touchdowns instead of settling for field goals:

“When you get in the red area it’s a different attitude. Coach (Stoutland) says you have to set your hair on fire. When we get in the red zone, we’re all looking to score.”