University of Alabama Football Coach Mike Shula
Louisiana Monroe Game Week Press Conference
Transcript of Opening Comments and 1st Five Questions Asked
September 12, 2006
“We’ve got week three: (we’re) looking forward to this week. We talk to our team each week; basically, it’s like a one-game season each week. You try to treat it that way. We’ve got two wins. We’ve got to find a way to get our third win. We’ve got to get better. The whole thing that we’ve talked to our team about since the end of last week’s game is everyone doing their job better. Like I said, I think post-game and on our Sunday interviews, (this means) practicing better, meeting better, all those types of things. And yet, being 2-0 and not maybe playing as well as we should have, I’m still real excited about this football team, with the guys that we’ve got playing and some of the things that they’re showing; knowing that it’s their first time playing; knowing we’ve got a young group. I think if each individual keeps getting better, and we take it one week at a time, we’ve got a chance to continue to win. But the games are only going to get tougher.
“This week’s team, Louisiana Monroe, they are a very scary bunch. They’ve got some playmakers. Their quarterback is very athletic; similar to last week’s, maybe even more so a better athlete; maybe a stronger arm. He’s a young quarterback, but he’s made some plays. Defensively, they’re solid in their secondary. They’ve got corners that challenge receivers more, meaning in the one-on-one coverages, more so than maybe the way we’ve been challenged the first couple of weeks. So, as we know and as I’ve said, we’re going to have to play better and have three good days of preparation to get ourselves ready for this weekend.”
With the way defenses are stacking the boxes, it’s not anything new you guys have seen---I’m sure you guys are obviously going to see it a lot the rest of the yearbut, seeing it, and, the fact that you guys have been proficient at making defenses pay with the passing game, does that give you some encouragement with the defenses you’re going to see in the coming weeks?
“We’ve kind of said all along that we want to be a balanced offense. We want to have the ability to run the ball. If we do, that will create some good looks in the passing game because teams will try to bring one of their safeties down and leave their corners so to speak on an island. We’ve actually, this year probably, our first two games, have seen the other way. I’ve seen a little more two-deep coverage in first and second in run down situations than we’ve seen I know at this time last year and probably our first two years. So teams are mixing it up. We’ve got a young quarterback, and we’re seeing a lot of blitzing, too, not necessarily what we call zone blitzing. So they’re still playing some kind of coverage behind it. It gives you confidence, though, that your quarterback has been able to produce really two weeks in a row. He’s had some mistakes but to be able to produce, especially coming out in the second half with two good drives when we needed it. I would say to go along with that, I think we’ve protectedso far; I know it’s only been two gamesbut we’ve protected better probably, I think, than we ever have. Really, when you go back to last year’s bowl game, it’s been three pretty good games.”
You talked a second ago about how you’re 2-0, haven’t played as well as you’d like but you’re still excited; chance to win a lot of games. Do you say anything to the team about ignoring a lot of the criticism that goes on everywhere outside of this building?
“You talk to your team about that. I remember answering a question similar to this last year and probably a few times in my career, too. You worry about the things you can control, number one; you know, kind of going into it as a coach; going into it as a player; some of the young guys are kind of learning it: if you don’t have some of the success that we all feel like we should have, then there’s going to be criticism. There’s going to be questions that you’re going to answer that maybe you’re not used to answering. But what you’ve got to do is worry about the things that you can control and that’s how you, as an individual, can help our football team get better and then go from there. That’s kind of the things that we talked to our team about before the season and, really, all the time.”
Coach, this question is a little redundant from last week but, again, Ken Darby, coming out of the Vanderbilt game: do you feel like he’s 100 percent this week; and how will you handle the running backs this week?
“I think so. He came out of this game better than he came out of the Hawai’i game physically. After the Hawai’i game, his first couple of days of practice he didn’t look 100 percent. I thought he looked 100 percent Thursday, and I thought he looked much better on Sunday. Like I said after the press conference, only K.D. knows if he was 100 percent. I thought he had some real good runs, especially at the end, more plus-four runs than what we thought; had some big runs when we needed first downs in the fourth quarter to help us win the game and to help us hold on to the ball for a few more minutes. Hopefully, he is healthier now. (He) made it through that week and we’ll see him continuing to improve.”
You’ve got two games with the new clock rules. Has that gone pretty much the way you anticipated or are you having to adjust your game plans accordingly right now? And how will you be adjusting?
“Personally, I knew it was going to be faster. I’m not sure I knew it was going to be this fast. Our defense having 18 plays in the second half; offensively 29 plays for us in the first half of the last game; the total game going two hours, 47 minutes; I didn’t think it was going to be quite like that. I’m not sure it will be like that every week. It will be interesting, though. We talked about it before the season, definitely after the Hawai’i game and again after the last game: the premium is on productivity while you’re out there because you’re probably not going to be out there very long. And there’s not going to be as many snaps. I don’t know if y’all have compared the first two games this year to last year; there’s probably a big difference in the number of plays overall.”
(Someone interjects “eight plays.”)
“Eight plays just for the offense.”
Leigh Tiffin has been a good story early on this season, but how concerned are you that 18 of your 28 points have come from your kicker, considering the fact that you’re getting ready to go to Arkansas and go to Florida?
“It’s good news/bad news. It’s good news to know that we’ve got a guy, especially a freshman, that’s been able to come in and make some big kicks for us. The bad news is, we’ve got to get touchdowns. But, last week, we had two turnovers in the plus territory. You’re not going to score points with turnovers. We’ve got to continue to work on it and do a good job; execute a little bit better. And we’ll practice it again this week. I think our guys are obviously aware of it, and, if they weren’t, then sometimes they get reminded by some of the questions, too, and rightfully so. We’ve got to be better down in that area, but we’re not going to all of the sudden keep everybody on edge by over-stressing it so we get down there again and everyone tightens up, you know, We’ve got to score a touchdown.’ We’re not going to do that. We’re just going to continue to talk about it and keep coaching it hard and keep making sure our guys understand all the fine points of that part of the field and the things that come with it.”