Countdown to Kickoff
Week 3 Football Press Conference Transcript

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks with the media Monday.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks with the media Monday.

Sept. 12, 2011

Head Coach Nick Saban

"After looking at the Penn State game, as I said after the game, I was really kind of pleased and proud of the way our guys competed in the game. I think we really played hard, really played physical in the game. I think this game sort of defines the importance of execution. I think when we executed things properly, we got really good results and when we didn't execute, you pay the consequences for it when you play a little better team. An example of that is the backside linebacker runs through and someone's supposed to block down on him on the goal line on third and one. Nobody blocks him and the guy blows you up in the backfield and then everybody wants to go for it on fourth down and I say, "If we aren't going to block the backside linebacker, then we're not going for it on fourth down. Let's kick a field goal and make it a three-score game." That's what the offensive line's getting ready to hear in a little bit too."

"There were a lot of good things. We didn't turn the ball over. We didn't get sacked. We only had one penalty offensively, which means we really handled the crowd noise. We did a little better on third down. Defensively, after the first series, we sort of settled down. We made some mental errors in the beginning of the game, which were not helpful, but we got three turnovers, stopped the run pretty well and didn't give a lot of big plays up. We did not play as well on third down as we'd like, and that's something that we need to improve on. Special teams did a pretty good job, but probably didn't get the kind of net punting that we'd like, and we need to improve on that. I think the big thing here is you correct mistakes, you work to eliminate the deficiencies of your team and improve and show it in the game on Saturday. That's what we're trying to do with our team right now."

"We had some players of the week, which I know you already got. William Vlachos, Michael Williams on offense. Mark Barron, C.J. Mosley and Dre Kirkpatrick (on defense). Mark's (Barron) also the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Special Teams: Trey Depriest, Vinnie [Sunseri], Dee Milliner and Alex Watkins all did a really good job."

"Injury wise, we don't really have any new problems. Chris Jordan, we're probably going to just hold out for a week. He's been kind of nicked up for about two weeks and practices a little bit, but never seems to get where he needs to be, so we're probably just going to hold him out for a week. He hasn't really played yet, although he has been trying to practice. We've got a couple of guys that are nicked up, but nobody that can't practice today, or won't be back for sure tomorrow."

"I don't have anything else to report on Duron Carter, so you don't even need to ask about it. You'll be the first ones to know when we get the information. If we get the information, when we get the paperwork, however you want to say that."

"It'll be good to have Darius Hanks back. He gives us an explosive receiver on offense with experience. It's been a really good thing for our receiver group. I saw some maturity out of some guys. All those guys played better. Kevin Norwood played better. Kenny Bell played better. DeAndrew White played better. They all played better, from first week to second week. Hopefully this experience that they've all gotten is going to help them continue to gain confidence and be able to improve as we go through the year."

"North Texas is a team, in my opinion, that has some very, very good players that's very capable of making explosive plays. They have probably one of the best running backs that is as good as anybody we'll play against. The guy gained almost 1,600 yards last year. Lance Dunbar is a really, really good player. They run a lot of zone option, lots of formations. They've got a great return guy in [Brelan] Chancellor, number 80, who's a very good kickoff returner. [Head coach Dan] McCarney has come from some really good programs and is a really good coach. You can see a lot of improvement in their team. They finished the year last year scoring a lot of points, and they're still a pretty explosive offensive team. We need to get ready for this game, and focus on what we need to do to correct the things that we need to correct. We need to work on eliminating the deficiencies and problems that we have and improve as a team and show it in the game on Saturday."

On how Eddie Lacy is handling his new role and how Trent Richardson has done in the first couple of games:
"Trent has done a good job so far. When you are carrying the ball, it's a little bit like how do we block and what do we do, and I think early in the game, especially in two games in a row, we haven't done a very good job up front. We did a much better job from an offensive line standpoint this week as the game went on. We got a hat on a hat and got some movement on some people and had some holes to run through, and Trent took advantage of that and Eddie took advantage of it as well. Trent had some tough yards. When you don't block the three-technique and he runs through and hits you as soon as you get the ball, I mean you could be Superman and you are still going to lose five yards, so whose fault is that?"

On the plan with the quarterbacks for Saturday:
"We will continue to work the quarterbacks as we did last week which was two-for-one because we want to continue to develop Phillip, and we'd like to play Phillip if we get opportunities to play him because I do still feel both guys are good quarterbacks and I think there is good competition there. I think there is room for improvement for both guys, and we'd like to continue to do that. The thing that AJ probably did in this game is that he managed the game well, and he didn't make the bad mistakes. He made some good throws and made a couple that he could have made a little better, maybe. But he didn't make the bad mistake. There is only one occasion where he probably threw a ball that he shouldn't have thrown, and the rest of the time he was in the right spot and the right place. We didn't always have him beat or open or whatever. I think in that situation, playing that team, we did what we needed to do on offensive to give ourselves the best chance to win the game. He did a good job of carrying that out. Phillip didn't get an opportunity, so there can be no evaluation made between that. We are going to continue to try to develop both guys this week in practice."

On Darius Hanks coming back to the team:
"I don't think his transition back will be a problem. The guy has been playing around here for two or three years and has a lot of experience. He's been the scout team player of the week two weeks in a row because he has been working against the defensive for the scout team periods. When we go against each other he works against the offensive, but that has only been for the last two weeks. Prior to that he was working completely with the offensive, so there should be no transition period here. There should be no transition problems. I'm sure if he plays well then we managed it right, and if he plays poorly then you can all get on us for managing it wrong. The fact of the matter is that he is an experienced player, and he ought to be able to go out there and play well with a lot of confidence and do the things he has been doing for a long time. You can create something like you all did last week with the offensive line and all that. It makes it a little more fun for me to have something to react to."

On it "seeming" like Saban changed his approaches which lead to fewer injuries this year:
"No, I can't even remember how many injuries we had last year. It seems like means what? What is seems like? How many guys did we have hurt last year because I don't really know. We did come back in a little better condition this year as a team, one of the best conditioning tests that we've had. And we've had two pretty physical games, and that was a really physical game on Saturday, on both sides. I don't know that there's any specific reason for it."

On creating fumbles:
"I think that the three turnovers in the game were real key factors, no question about that. And two fumble recoveries were great. Both were caused fumbles. We did a good job of getting to the ball. We've really emphasized trying to create fumbles and get turnovers. As long as we get turnovers, I don't really care how they come. Last year we got lots of interceptions and not very many fumbles. Hopefully we can do both this year."

On the ability to rely on Trey (DePriest) and Vinnie (Sunseri) on kickoff and punt returns:
"I think it's really important to have four or five core special teams guys on your team, especially guys that aren't starters. In a lot of cases, Trent Richardson could cover kickoffs better than anybody on the team, and he actually did that for a while, but we really don't want him to play on the kickoff coverage team. We have several other guys that are really, really good special teams guys, but they play for 60 or 70 plays in a game, so it's really good for your team when you have four or five guys who are really good special teams players who aren't starters, and that's what they look forward to. That's what they prepare for. That's what they do, and you feel like they can do it as well as anybody on the team, and you're certainly not making any compromises to play them to hold somebody else out from doing it. When you get four or five core guys doing that it sort of lightens the load on everybody else in terms of what you have to do. Depth on your team is usually what gives you the opportunity to find those kinds of guys. Those two guys have certainly done a good job so far. They're both instinctive, they can run, they love to play, and they've done a really good job."

On William Vlachos' leadership and the team's weekly training schedule:
"Well first of all, William Vlachos and Barrett Jones both have done a really good job from a leadership standpoint on the offensive line. I do think, as the game wore on at Penn State, we started to win the line of scrimmage, and started to assert our will a little bit as an offensive line. I think we changed a few things in terms of the plays that we ran. And a lot of fans might say, `Well you ran the ball inside a lot.' Well, when you have big, powerful guys, maybe that's the best way to do it. We got beat with quickness, trying to run the ball to the perimeter in the first game, so we had more direct runs in this game. I think that probably helped the guys develop some confidence. Now we need to continue to do the other things as well, and we'll continue to work to try to improve that, but those two guys have done a really good job from a leadership standpoint. They have a lot of knowledge and experience. They're smart, and they have great personalities to help the other guys on the team."

On Brandon Lewis in the backfield and if he beat out anyone to get it:
"Guys volunteer for a lot of stuff but players don't decide who plays what. We're all for giving guys opportunities to do things they want to do, that they're motivated to do, but Brandon Lewis was a guy we thought that, athletically maybe and maturity wise, could contribute somewhere else on the team other than as a defensive lineman. Even though he was doing a good job, we felt like, `Okay, here are the guys that we have. When is this guy going to play?' And we felt like we needed one more big-bodied guy, whether you call it h-back, fullback, tight end , whatever, to play in special situations. He's sent the last couple weeks learning that kind of stuff to do that."

On Quinton Dial's progress:
"Quinton has made a tremendous amount of progress and improvement since spring practice. I think there's some apprehension sometimes as to being sure and certain about what he's supposed to do. Sometimes the call just doesn't come natural to him, especially when we're in stunts and blitzes and things like that, but that part of it is easier to overcome than some physical deficiency, which he doesn't seem to have. He's a guy that we need to make a consistent contribution in the future from the depth of the defensive line standpoint."

On the importance to keeping Phillip Sims' attitude positive, given that he's a play away from starting:
"I think that's very important. I think every player needs to know, it's probably more difficult when you're not the starter, or you didn't start the game, to be prepared to play the game as it is for the guy that knows he's going to go out there and play. I think it takes a tremendous amount of maturity, takes a competitive personality that you're driven to want to be the best and will continue to work to be the best at your position, regardless of the circumstance you find yourself in, and that you can't be result-oriented and say that because I'm where I am now, that defines me.  That doesn't define you. You define yourself in terms of who you want to be, what you want to be and how you want to go about doing it. There was an interesting thing I saw on ESPN that (Derek) Jeter said, `If you want to be the best, good enough is just not good enough.' We don't want anyone out there just being good enough. We want you to be the best player you can be. That's the goal of the program. That should be the goal of the player, and that's what we want every player to do. It's just as hard for the backup right tackle to get ready to play the game knowing that that guy can go down too."

What are your policies concerning Twitter?
"We monitor guys' Twitter. We don't want any guys to put information out there about what happens, but we released the information before the game because we didn't want it to be a distraction to the team. The team knew it, but we didn't want everybody to start focusing on what's happening, and all that kind of stuff. Our team knew what the situation was on Friday. I mean if we'd gotten the information on Saturday morning, the guy could have come up there and played in the game, so we weren't going to make an announcement until we were absolutely certain that wasn't going to happen. We found that out on Saturday morning, so we thought it would be best to pass out that information during pregame, but our policy is we don't want guys to twitter information about our team that creates an advantage for the other team. And secondly, we monitor guys' Twitter so that they are not putting information out that could be personally damaging to them in the future in terms of the kind of information that they choose to put out there, but we don't have a policy where you can't do it."

On if giving up a goal line touchdown against both Kent State and Penn State concern him:
"I mean the best goal line defenses don't get in it. That's what concerns me. What concerns me is not when they get the ball first and one at the one, whether we stop them or not. It's, `How did they get down there?' We didn't play as well as we needed to play in two minute. We had them third down and long. We didn't contain in the pocket and the guy runs for a first down. We get them third and long again and get the ball thrown over our head. That's how they got down there, and that's what concerns me. We have good goal line defense. We've stopped people on the goal line before. We executed what we were supposed to in that game at that time. We just didn't stop them short of the goal line, and we made the mental error on the two-point play, and we really didn't execute that the way we should have."

#99 Josh Chapman, Defensive Lineman

On giving up positive rushing yards against Penn State:
"Those guys (Penn State) came out pretty physical. Being the nose guard, you want to take the blame for it, especially if a team gets over 100 yards, but that is something we have to go out and start doubling their blockers and establish the line of scrimmage."

On how competing against the Alabama offensive line prepares him for games:
"I have been going against William Vlachos for many years. He is a great center. Chance (Warmack) and (Anthony) Steen are there too. We have a great offensive line, and going against them feels like you are going against one of the best in the country. It helps you day in and day out."

On the challenges of facing the different styles of run in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy:
"It is about tacking the right way. It is hard going against two great backs every day, but it helps you also."

On whether or not you can tell if you have beaten the opposing offensive line:
"Sometimes you can tell, but it is just about going out every time putting the helmets to the nail. We try and dominate them on every play. You just want to make them quit. Penn State is a great team, and they came at us hard on every play."

On Jesse Williams:
"Jesse is doing a great job. He is learning pretty fast. When he knows the defense, it is hard to block him and hard to stop him. He is a funny guy. He has a good sense of humor."

On how he gets psyched up for North Texas:
"You have to get psyched up for every game. This is another game closer to where we want to be. Playing games is what we love to do, especially playing here at home."

On Nick Gentry's role on the team:
"He is one of our leaders, especially on the defensive line. One thing I see with him is that he takes a lot of guys after practice and before practice and teaches them things they can do since they cannot meet with the coaches all the time. One day that guy could be a great coach. He helps me on things. We will be in the film room, and I do things wrong, and he will tell me to do this and do that. He is a great guy."

#3 Trent Richardson, Running Back

On his thoughts on the Penn State game:
"It was a big game and a tough game. We knew they were going to bring everything at us. They fought with all they had. We tried to bring everything to them, and we came out the bigger man in that game."

On the crowd at Penn State:
"We knew how loud it was going to be, especially playing at a place like we do at Alabama. I think Penn State is a hostile environment. It was hard to hear the audibles that AJ (McCarron) was calling, but at the same time we studied that all week. We were prepared for it."

On his 111-yard rushing game against the Nittany Lions:
"I think it was pretty solid. I know I need to work on my pass pro a little more. I have to punch my holes a little bit more and be more patient. Overall, I think I did pretty good. I went out there and played every play like it was my last."

On how he though AJ McCarron did in his first road start:
"AJ did pretty good. I saw him make a throw in between three defenders, and I don't know how he got the ball there. I did not even know the ball was out of his hands because he releases it so fast. He handled the crowd really good and handles the pressure really good. He carried the offense through the whole game. He still has a lot to work on. We have some big games coming up in the SEC with a lot of road games. We have to go down to Gainesville, and that is going to be a hostile environment. We know that is always going to be a fight for us. It is going to be a tough challenge for him, but we are going to be there to support him and push him along the way."

On playing North Texas this week:
"We just go out there and play. We have higher expectations. Our standard has been to start fast and finish strong, and that is what we have to do. We have to make sure we go out every play and do that."

#41 Courtney Upshaw, Linebacker

On playing with a healthy defense:
"It is good to be out there and competing. We are having a lot of fun. The energy and chemistry is higher. All we want to do is go out there and compete and make plays."

On playing in front of a loud crowd at Penn State:
"It was a real loud crowd there. We expected that going into the game and were able to go in there and make plays and do what we had to do."

On the pass rush against Penn State:
"I think it was just ok. We have to get more pressure. We just need to get there, the whole front seven needs to get more sacks. Penn State did a good job spreading it out more than we saw against Kent State. If we were able to get a pass rush they were quicker to get rid of the ball."

On getting two fumbles:
"Coach (Kirby) Smart made sure to show us that we were one of the last ones in that category last year. He has emphasized us forcing the ball out and stripping it. Dre (Kirkpatrick) did a good job getting to the ball on both plays. It is one of our goals to get three turnovers a game."

On showing film:
"Before every practice when we're going over plays he had this one clip that showed 118 out of 120 (in forcing turnovers last season). He made sure to show us that or show us a clip from the NFL or past teams that go out and strip the ball and force fumbles."

On preparing to force turnovers:
"We all, even during the game have to come out and force a turnover. Especially coming out of a three-and-out by the offense, we want to go out and try to get an interception, force a fumble, that's all we talk about."

#21 Dre Kirkpatrick, Defensive Back

On playing at Penn State:
"It was pretty good. It is one of the fields I wanted to play on, that and Michigan."

On the game for him personally:
"It was very emotional, very exciting. It was a place I always wanted to play at, and I enjoyed it, but we have to move on."

On the crowd and playing music until the snap:
"You've got to feed off it because I feel like everyone is against us, and our backs are against the wall. You put a dog's back to the wall, and he's going to fight his way out, so that's what we had to do."

On creating two fumbles:
"The first one I kind of knew I got it out because I got my head up in on him. The second one I was kind of in shock because I didn't know what really happened. It was just something that we worked on, we work on it in practice every week."

On the defensive performance:
"We played good up to a point. I was a little disappointed in our play that last drive but we had a little adversity and I pretty much say that we didn't accomplish it but we will this week."

On something he wants to work on this week in preparation for North Texas:
"Everything. There isn't anything I can't get better on this week, so I'm going to go out there and prepare like I'm going to the National Championship game."