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Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript



Sept. 22, 2008

Opening Statement:

“After reviewing the film after the Arkansas game our players really played hard and I am proud of the way they were physical in the game, controlled the line of scrimmage, ran the ball very effectively and really made plays in the game when we really needed to make them.  Whether it was the goal line stand before the half, scoring after they scored in the first half, Julio’s touchdown, and starting with a turnover in the second half, all those things are very important in being a good competitor and being able to respond to the tough situations in the game. Also there are a significant amount of things that we probably need to improve on. I think technically you would want the players to look at the game from the standpoint of how they executed, what needs to be done to get better at certain things in their game and as a team and certainly that is what we want our focus to be. I think our players were good that way in terms of the way they viewed this game this morning and looked at it to try and get better from it.

“We had some outstanding performances in the game. The entire offensive line played extremely well but (the coaching staff’s players of the week) Glen Coffee, Andre Smith, who was also the SEC Lineman of the Week, Travis McCall who always does a workman like job for us in terms of his blocking and in his leadership. Defensively Rolando McClain and Brandon Fanney had good games. P.J. (Fitzgerald) had one of his best games on special teams in terms of his punting and Robby Green and Tyrone King both did an outstanding job with their tackling on coverage units. We don’t have any injury problems. Rolando McClain is fine, Josh Chapman is ok, Javier Arenas is ok. We have some guys that are nicked up and sore but nobody should be out of practice. Hopefully we will be able to continue to work to improve.

“Obviously this is a very challenging game that we have. These are the kind of games that you should come to a place like The University of Alabama to play in. Played at Georgia before and it is a good atmosphere to play a football game in. To be on national TV is great for our players but the most important thing is we stay focused on what we need to do on the field so we have the best chance to be successful. Georgia has an outstanding team. Undoubtedly one of the best teams in the country, top two or three for sure. A team that has been pretty dominant in the way they have played all season long on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Mark Richt is an outstanding coach and has done a good job there. They won the Sugar Bowl last year and were very impressive last week against Arizona State. They have some outstanding individual players. Obviously a great running back in (Knowshon) Moreno, their quarterback is arguably the best quarterback in the country in terms of his passing efficiency, running their offense and his leadership. They have two fantastic wide receivers. (A.J.) Green and (Mohamed) Massaquoi both have big play ability and are big guys. Their defense is certainly one of the best defensive teams in the country. They are difficult to run against, are difficult to score against and have a lot of starters and a lot of experience back on the team. This team has balance offensively, they play well; they are coached well; that is why they are one of the best teams in the country. So it will be a real challenge for our team to play against one of the best teams in the country on the road. We need to stay focused on the things we need to do to improve as a team and play our best football.”

On the play of Kareem Jackson:

“He has done a really good job all the way around as a player. He has made a lot of improvement. The big thing is don’t give up big plays, keep them cut off. They tried to make one on him Saturday and he made the play. He has become a better tackler, a better run force guy and has done a better job all the way around and has been a pretty consistent performer.”

 On Coach Kirby Smart and the play of the secondary:

Kirby Smart our secondary coach has done a great job. He really does a good job all the way around with the players and does a great job in preparing them. It was good that we made those turnovers. We needed them in the game, they were big plays in the game. There was a period in the second quarter where we played 27 plays with only two kickoffs in between and I think that affected our players. We made more mental errors and didn’t really execute well during that stretch. It was great to make the big plays and score the touchdown. We just had to go right back on defense again and we got a little tired.”

On matching up against the Georgia wide receivers (Green and Massaquoi):

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for those two players and their quarterback. They have shown a real capacity to make big plays down the field. It is a part of their offense in terms of play action pass and throwing the ball vertically down the field. That is something that will be a challenge for us whether we are playing zone or man we have to jam them and keep them cut off. I think that will be a real key to the game in terms of those guys not being able to make big plays.”

On missed tackles against Arkansas:

“It is something that we can get corrected in practice this week. What players do sometimes at this time of year is not wrap up instead of tackling him or grabbing him with your arms and grabbing cloth. It is a fundamental thing. That is something you always emphasize. At this time of year sometimes you go through game-by-game game plans and start focusing on what to do and what the assignment is and start to less focus on how to do it. The technique that you use, the eye control you need to have and tackling is no different. The hitting was there, the toughness was there, but that wasn’t the problem. It was the technique to bring the runner down that we didn’t pay attention to detail on. There were some other areas where we had similar issues as well.

On wanting to play in these types of games:

“There is no question about it. If you are a competitor you like to compete in games where great players are going to be out there. You can see how well you get your team prepared to play in a challenging situation. Obviously there will be a lot of adversity to overcome. Most great competitive situations offer that challenge. Obviously how we manage that will go a long way in terms of how we play in this game.”

On characteristics of a Mark Richt team:

“They are always very well coached. You are not going to find them out of position very much. They are sound and solid in everything they do. They are always physical. They always play with great effort and toughness. They are always going to have great skill players. That has always been a trademark of his teams. They have good quarterback play and great skill players of offense, a lot of players on defense who play with toughness and can run. They are well coached, discipline and are always going to be in the right spot. You are going to have to beat them and they are not going to beat themselves very much.”