Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Watch Press Conference Now!
Transcript of Opening Comments and 1st Five Questions
"We've got another big week in the SEC. South Carolina is playing extremely well. They're 3-1 and they've got to feel like they have a real good chance to have been 4-0. We've got to find a way to bounce back and have three good days of practice. This team coming in here, South Carolina has a lot of seniors and experience, obviously because of it, and leadership. They're playing well in all three areas. They have a quarterback that can beat you throwing the ball, can beat you running with it. They've got probably the fastest group of wide receivers that we'll see all year.
"Defensively, they move around well. The secondary does a nice job of covering. They don't give up a lot of plays. The linebackers are hard, tough nosed guys, and the defensive line, like I said, they move around a little bit and do a good job of occupying linemen, especially in the running game to free their linebackers up.
"So, we've got our work cut out for us. We're back at home. Everyone's excited about that, and we've just got to have a real good week of preparation."
Mike, you guys took some shots down the field last Saturday, just missed on a few. How important do you think it's going to be to take some shots early deep against this defense, make them respect your throwing game?
"We're going to take what the defense gives us so to speak and have that mindset every week. I think it's important to be able to mix all those things up, your control passing game, your down-the-field passing game, your play action passes, your running game. I think it's important to see how to try to get a feel for how they're playing us, too, early. It's a little bit of that and then also there are some things that we'd like to do regardless of how they're playing us. I think it's a balance of all those things."
Mike, statistically, they look like they play very well against the run and that seems to be your strength right now.
"Yes, they do a good job. Like I said, their defensive line does a good job not getting knocked back, and then also, you see when you watch them on tape, opposing teams' offensive linemen have a tough time trying to get up to the linebackers. And their linebackers, when they do, are tough guys, hard-nosed guys. They do a great job hitting. And we feel like, obviously, that's one of our strengths, so we're going to have to take a good look at it and see how we want to attack them, and, going back to earlier, try to keep them off balance that way, mixing the run and the pass."
Mike, is Brandon Brooks set as punt returner, or do you look at some different guys back there?
"We've really, for all this season, we've looked at all those guys. He and (Tyrone) Prothro are back there. D.J. Hall is another punt returner. But we feel like Brandon is our guy. We struggled last week and mainly, he never had an opportunity. We had our guys not doing a good enough job, especially on Arkansas' flyers or their gunners or whatever you want to call them where he never had a chance to catch it and make somebody miss. So that's our biggest thing. We definitely need to work on our punt return. I thought Brandon fielded the ball better. I think there are some of those things you're going to want him to fair-catch it a little bit so he doesn't get himself killed or the ball knocked out, but we've got to do a better job even before he catches it. But we are working other guys, though, too."
You played against Coach (Lou) Holtz. Can you talk about that experience and what he brings?
"It was exciting for me personally, for us as a team for a couple of reasons: knowing Coach Holtz, his success and the record that he's had over the years back then and then playing Notre Dame was a big thrill for me, a big thrill for our football team to be the first team, really the first and only team (at Alabama) to beat Notre Dame. Ever since then, you watch him, and his record speaks for itself; his career. I can remember seeing him at the SEC head coaches meeting two years ago and then this past summer and then got a chance to talk to him just for a minute or so this summer at the SEC Media Day--he's done a great job with this team. He's got them going. They're 3-1, like I said, they feel like they out to be 4-0. They've got a lot of experience coming in here. They're going to be coming in with a lot of confidence. We've got our work cut out for us. We're 1-1 in the SEC and they are, too, so this is a big game."
Coach, can you give us an injury update, especially on Simeon (Castille)?
"Simeon will probably be limited today at practice but all reports are that he should be okay for the game."