Countdown to Kickoff
Week 5 Press Conference Transcript



Sept. 24, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening Statement:

“Our players really played hard in the last game. I was really pleased with the intensity that they played with. We obviously have some areas that we still need to be more consistent in our execution and ability to finish. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot to prove as a football team. Sometimes what gets you here doesn’t really get you there, which is where you want to go. We have to focus on being a little more competent, have a little more attention to detail, do the little things right so that we can continue to grow and improve. I think that’s going to be critical for us especially getting back into SEC play against a very good team this week.

The players of the week were D.J. Fluker and Eddie Lacy (offense), who did a really good job. Robert Lester and C.J. Mosley (defense), Cade Foster, Dee Hart and Vinnie Sunseri on special teams.

The only injured guy we have is Brandon Ivory, who is going to be day-to-day. He won’t practice today. It’s probably going to be questionable for this week.

Ole Miss is really a much improved team. The offensive numbers that they’ve been able to put up against everyone that they’ve played have been very impressive. Their no-huddle style, like Auburn used to be with Gus Malzahn, just to give our folks something to relate it to. They are playing hard, playing with a lot of spirit. They’ve got some really good skilled players. Bo Wallace has done a good job for them at quarterback. Barry Brunetti comes in sometimes. Two quarterback system, no-huddle, fast, really run the ball effectively with all the zone read options, quarterback runs, have some good skilled guys that can make plays in the passing game. Their defense is very quick and athletic. They move around a lot and create problems sometimes in their ability to run and affect the edges in the passing game. They forced a bunch of turnovers last week. This is a team that is a completely different team. I think Hugh Freeze has done a really good job. It’s obviously going to be important for us getting back into SEC play. It should be a great atmosphere for us at Bryant-Denny stadium Saturday night.”

On linebacker C.J. Mosley’s play this year:

“C.J. does a really good job. He’s very athletic, fast, very instinctive and is really a play-maker type of guy. He’s learned since he’s been here to fit the run a little bit better, does a good job in that regard – he’s gotten a little bit bigger and a little stronger. He’s always been a really good athlete and a space player so, with all the spread-out formations that we have played against to this point he’s had a lot of opportunities to make plays, and he’s made a lot plays.”

On playing young guys and how much of a luxury that is:

“I do think that even though they (Florida Atlantic) scored on the last drive, a lot of the guys that got an opportunity to play this week learned a lot about what happened when they played at Arkansas, and that really helped them improve. It improved their preparation. It improved their sense of urgency about getting ready to play, and that they may have an opportunity and they need to be prepared. There was improvement made and I think that’s a good thing and I think that helps the depth of our team. On the other side of that, you could say ‘we haven’t had to play 60 minutes in the game yet with the guys we are going to have to play, and we are going to play against a team that’s going to try to run 80 plays on offense, that’s their goal.’ More players are going to have to contribute and the players that play are going to have to sustain their performance for longer in the game.”

On the balance on both sides of the ball individually:

“We probably have a team that doesn’t have as many defined stars as what we have had in the past – and of course you all define them – it’s not my doing. I think we have a lot of guys that have had a lot of opportunity to play, which is a good thing and some of those guys have contributed and because of their contributions, I think that they have had an opportunity to improve, and hopefully we will continue to have a lot of guys that can make contributions on both sides of the ball. I think that is probably a good thing.”

On offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio and his journey back to the playing field:

“He’s a pretty relentless guy. He worked really hard. He had two pretty significant-type surgeries that are longtime rehabs that he worked very hard at. We weren’t even sure that he would be able to get back and be able to play this season. He was ready in the summer and has really done a nice job and has developed into a nice backup player for us right now, which adds depth to the offensive line. We are really pleased with him, but I think it speaks to his character, work ethic and attitude that has gotten him back to being able to do that.”

On not trailing so far this season:

“I think that we are constantly trying to teach our players that you play the next play, you are worried about the scoreboard, you are not worried about the circumstance in the game – that is an external factor – you need to focus on what you need to do to execute the very next play – whether you’re ahead in the game or behind in the game, that really doesn’t matter. That is something that we’re constantly trying to instill in our players, from a competitive standpoint. If they have never been in a situation, I guess you don’t know for sure how they are going to respond. I think it’s about poise and confidence and just continuing to play in the game and having confidence that if you continue to do the right things and execute and pay attention to detail, and play together as a team you are going to have a chance to come back and be able to do the things you need to do to be successful.”

On if there was a priority to get the defense up to speed on the option in camp this year:

“We have already played against it in the Michigan game. We have put a priority on it and there are some similarities to some of the things that we have played against in the past. Anytime we play anybody that does things different than we do, we spend time working on it so that it is not going to be new to the players when we play against it. That is one of those things that fit into that category.”

On if decisions will start to be made about redshirting freshmen and playing certain freshmen:

“We have played a lot of freshmen, and in some cases those guys have developed nicely, and I think they are going to contribute to our team significantly down the road. In other cases, you would like to see guys progress more rapidly, but we are going to continue to work with them and play the guys that we have played. I think if a guy hasn’t played to this point, we probably don’t plan to play them, but we may not have the luxury to do that. I think that we continue to try to develop all the players that are freshmen and if we get injuries or have an issue or problem with depth at a position, we may have to play someone else who we thought we maybe didn’t need to play. I think again, we are trying to make these decisions based on the fact ‘is a guy going to get to play enough to help him develop as a player,’ relative to losing the year of eligibility for playing just a little bit and that is really what we are trying to do. We don’t have any plans to play anyone to this point that has not played but that doesn’t mean that that can’t happen or won’t happen.”

#32 C.J. Mosley, Linebacker

On playing to the team’s standard during the game against Florida Atlantic:

“It’s going back to our standard as a defense. It doesn’t matter who you play; we’ve got to play to our level and just dominate each phase of the game.”

On the performance as a whole and how the team needs to improve for this week’s game:

“I feel that we did well, from a defensive standpoint. I think we made all of our goals. It just comes back to staying consistent, no matter who we play.”

On having Florida Atlantic as a good primer for the fast-paced Mississippi team:

“We practiced on that this past week because they’re going to be getting to the line fast and checking and things like that, so it’s something that we’re starting to get accustomed to. Some of our later opponents are going to be doing the same thing, so it’s something that we just have to practice and work on.”

On how Alabama will match up against Mississippi:

“They’re going to be fast-paced, so I’m pretty sure they’re going to get to the ball quick and try to get the defense where they can take advantage of us. We just have to be fast and communicate and just get to the ball and play physical like we always do.”

On Alabama’s offense:

“What I like about our offense is that they’re going to keep running it. They’re going to be conservative with the ball, but they’re still going to make plays and score touchdowns. Once we get off the field on three and out, if we have a long drive, and they’re still holding the ball for five or six minutes, that just gives us more time to communicate on the sideline.”

On staying focused throughout the day when there is a late kickoff:

“We usually get about an hour more of sleep,  then we’ll have our team breakfast and our team meetings and just get a few hours to cope and relax and get our minds right for the game.”

#37, Robert Lester, Defensive Back

On the Florida Atlantic game:

“They presented things that we haven’t seen before. I think that it was good to get a lot of our young guys experience. It’s always great to get the young guys experience because you never know when they are going to need to come in down the line.”

On if the fast-paced offense of Florida Atlantic will help them prepare for Mississippi:

“Yes. There are a lot of teams that run that fast-paced, no-huddle type of offense, and it is great to go ahead and get that look in order to get some experience from this type of team.”

On the rush offense of Mississippi:

“I know that they are going to come in and play hard and run the ball hard. It’s a big challenge for us to stop the run. By them priding themselves on running it so well, and us priding ourselves on stopping the ball, I think that it will be a great challenge.”

On Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace:

“He is a great player. Week-in-and-week-out we face great opponents and great players. He is going to bring his best game, and we are going to bring ours. The best will win.”

On starting the SEC portion of the schedule:

“We have six SEC teams to play back-to-back. This is why we come to Alabama, for the challenge and the competition.”

#92, Damion Square, Defensive Lineman

On the Florida Atlantic game:

“We competed well as a defense. We didn’t get a lot of turnovers, and that’s something that we need to improve on, but we played fast. Everyone played assignment football. We rallied to the ball. A lot of guys got some statistics that they deserved. Guys made plays that they were supposed to make and that’s what you like to see as a defense. You always have to come in and look at your flaws so that you have something to improve on because this is a game of improvement. The team that improves from week to week is the team that is going to stand at the end of the season no matter what type of victories they get throughout the year. We have to be humble as a defense and evaluate how we played honestly, so we can correct the things that we did badly. Then we have to go out there and get ready for Ole Miss and the things that they bring to the table.”

On if the team played to the standard that Coach Saban expects of them against Florida Atlantic:

“I think that we did that great. He preaches that, and I try to preach that before the game also to some of my younger teammates. We need to go out there and play to our goals, no matter who comes out on the field. That’s what we have to do against Ole Miss and all of our other opponents. We have things that we are trying to do as a defense and things that if you do them, then you have a very good chance of winning. That’s the reason why we play. We don’t go out there and get overwhelmed with our opponent. We go out there and play football the way that it is supposed to be played because at the end of the day no matter who is across the field from us football will always be football.”

On stopping the run:

“You have to stop the run, first and foremost. It is a running game. It’s a game on the ground and then you pass if needed. We want to make sure that we take pride up front and send teams to their passing attack because we are going to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run then you can’t beat anybody. This game is a game of steps also. First and foremost, you want to come out there and be physical. Second of all, you want to stop the run. As a front we take pride in that. We believe that starts with us. We do what we are supposed to do to free the linebackers up so they can make great plays.”

On if Alabama plays more physical than other teams:

“No doubt about it. We practice that way. We take pride in it, and we hold each other accountable to play physical. If it is looking soft, we come to the sidelines, and I’m going to let you know that it looked kind of soft over there. Whether you made the play or not. It’s football. That’s enough said right there. It’s not any other sport. It’s football. Football is a contact sport. It’s a collision sport. We want to make big collisions and great contact.”

#65, Chance Warmack, Offensive Lineman

On the Florida Atlantic game:

“They had the drive in terms of just trying to stop the run. I think we came out a little bit more focused at times of just executing the plays and just focusing on the little things like getting our hands inside and communicating amongst each other. We wound up on top and everything worked out the way that it was supposed to.”

On Eddie Lacy’s performance:

“Eddie is an explosive guy. He is really upbeat all the time. I think it shows with how he is on the field. He is always willing to get that extra three yards. He is really driven this year and has a whole new outlook on how to play this game. He is a really good player.”

On if he likes seeing the long plays because he is on and off the field quickly:

“It was a blessing. Plays like that just happen. As far as the plays go, I take it as an honor to have an offense that is balanced in the pass and the run. To see a receiver go down the field and make a play like that, it really pays off.”

On how balanced the Alabama offense is:

“You’ve got to give it to the coaches on that. They script it really well for us to make big plays in the air and on the field. It’s a tremendous thing to be balanced like that. We take pride in it, and we hope to stay like that for the remainder of the season.”