Countdown to Kickoff
Week 6 Press Conference Transcript



Oct. 8, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening Statement:

“Just to review last week quickly, I thought we worked hard fundamentally. The players responded in a positive way. This time of the season, if the season matters to you, now is the time to show the incentive you have to get excited about the opportunities you’ve created for yourself. Great competitors care about how they perform. They know they have to work hard to be consistent in what they do as well as be enthusiastic in their work, so the positive energy affects people in a positive way.

There is a lot of parity in college football. The teams that most of you in this room make head and shoulders above other teams obviously showed you how badly you can be mistaken. I know I can be mistaken and get criticized, but you all are badly mistaken when you make teams that are like so much better than everybody else. This weekend kind of proved that your predictability is not very good. I think what it proved is that the only thing predictable about college football is that it’s unpredictable.

The consistency and the key to the whole thing is consistency in performance, having a group of players committed to doing the things that they need to do to play the game at a high standard and a high level all the time, regardless of the circumstances or the situation.

This is an important game to us. It’s an SEC game. We are playing in a place where no one in our team meeting today has ever been before, including me. We are playing a new opponent that, in my mind, is a very challenging opponent for a lot of reasons. They are a very good defensive team. They are ranked nationally in most categories. Defensively, they are physical, tough and aggressive. They create a lot of negative plays for the offense. Offensively, this is probably one of the most challenging offenses philosophically in terms of being no huddle, a lot of different formations, a lot of motions and adjustments for the defense to make. They are very well coached. They’ve had some problems and issues this year with some very good players being injured. Regardless of those circumstances and situations, I think they have some very good players who are filling in and are very capable. Our team needs to be ready to play their best against what I would say is a very good football team. It’s a really big challenge for us this weekend. Gary Pinkel, a guy that I played with in college, very good longtime friend, has done a fantastic job at Missouri. His record over the 12 years that he has been there speaks for itself. He’s a great coach and done a really good job.”

On if roles have changed at the running back position due to injuries:

“We have two guys that we have to get ready to some degree to be able to give us some depth at running back. I think Brent Calloway is a guy that played running back [in high school] for a long time, who we tried to make an H-back, who we are going to get some repetition to at that position. Blake Sims has been a running back in the past, and even though he is sort of a backup quarterback, right now I still think that his skill set would allow him very easily with his understanding of the offense and previous experience to go back and be able to play that position, to some degree, for us.”

On Deion Belue’s status:

“Everybody is practicing today. Deion Belue can practice, but we are going to limit his contact for a few more days, but he can practice today. Kevin Norwood can practice today, [Brent] Calloway can practice today. Everybody that didn’t practice last week can practice today. John Fulton has done a nice job when he has been called on to go in and play for us, which has been one game for Dee Milliner and quite a bit of the game versus Ole Miss for Deion. It’s good to have a guy that has the experience that John has, and he has done a really nice job for us. Geno [Smith] is a young guy that continues to develop at a lot of different positions. With those guys, you just have to keep working to help them make strides every practice, every day, every play, so that they can improve and have a little more consistency and confidence in what they are doing.”

On his relationship with Gary Pinkel:

“Gary was actually one year behind me in school, so I was a senior when he was a junior. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for the kind of person that Gary is. He was a hard worker and very smart football-wise. We spent one year as GAs and part-time coaches. We were not assistants, so I did have an opportunity to work with him, and I do think that Don James had a tremendous impact. I can’t speak for Gary, but on me, in terms of my whole philosophy in dealing with players, personal development programs, academic support programs, talking about things relative to football as well as program oriented things, how to recruit, how to evaluate players. I learned a lot. When I first started coaching, Don James was so well-organized that I just assumed that any place that you went, that’s how everybody did things. When I left Kent State and went to other places, I was like, ‘Wow, Coach James was way ahead of all of this.’ I know Gary was exposed to the same thing and was with Coach James a lot longer, and I felt bad about leaving Toledo after one year and I knew the best person out there for that program would be Gary. I was just happy that he got the job, and he did fabulous job there for a long time and he has done a fabulous job at Missouri.”

On if Coach Saban watched any games this weekend:

“I didn’t really watch the games. I was watching Missouri actually, so I didn’t really watch them that closely. I watched a little of the Florida-LSU game, and I thought that those two teams really competed hard in the game and played hard, very tough, physical game. Turnovers on both sides had a tremendous outcome on the game.”

On what separates the pass defense in the SEC from other conferences:

“I think it probably starts with the guys up front. I have always said that I thought the thing that was different about this league was the pass rushers and the cover guys. The combination of those two things were a little bit better than other places. Everybody has good receivers, everybody has good runners, lots of good quarterbacks, but I thought that those two things were something that were a little better in this league, and I think that probably indicates that. If you look at most of the teams that have good pass defense, A, they are able to affect the quarterback because of pass rush. There are three things you have to do to be a successful passing team. You have to protect the quarterback, so the lines have to block. The receivers have to be able to get open and when you throw them the ball, and they have to be able to catch it. Number three, the quarterback has to execute, make good decisions, process information quickly, get the ball to the right guy at the right time, all that kind of stuff. When you have good pass-rush people, you affect several of those things. If you can cover a little bit, you can disrupt the timing at least, and all those things to me impact your ability to have passing efficiency on offense. I would say that is probably the biggest thing and most of the people that are in that category have some ability to rush and affect the quarterback.”

On Coach Saban’s assessment on the team’s line-of-scrimmage play this season:

“Some good, some bad. We have played the run fairly well on defense at times, and a couple of times we have given up some runs that, whether it’s misalignment or miss-execution, you see a lot of stuff though. In a couple of cases, we didn’t adjust properly to things that we hadn’t seen much before. Offensively, I think that inconsistency has been the biggest thing on the line of scrimmage in terms of not getting a hat on a hat and letting people give us bad plays at times, not executing in pass protection, or the quarterback not getting the ball out of his hand quick enough, so we have been a little inconsistent. I think both are areas that we can continue to improve on.”

On how Coach Saban and his staff prepare in the off week:

“I don’t think that you can ever forget about what you are doing. To say you are going to take a mental break – I don’t care where you go or where you stay – that is not going to happen. I leave town for a day, but I take everything with me. You ask me did I watch the games? The game was on, and I was watching our team either in practice on Thursday or games or recruits or somebody that has to do with improving our situation here. I do think that the mental break of not being in the same routine – to be able to chill-out for a little bit – probably is a good thing in terms of your ability to sustain the level of intensity necessary to do the things that all the coaches in the organization have to do. Hopefully they all got a chance to do that to some degree.”

On Chance Warmack:

“Chance has played very well, and I don’t think it’s of any surprise to us that he has played very well. He was a good player for us a year ago. We had high expectations for him, and he stayed focused pretty well on the things he needs to do to continue to improve as a player. He is a hard worker. I think that playing well means something to him, so he is a very competitive guy. He is very physical, has lots of toughness and he has exceeded expectations in terms of the way he has played and hopefully he will be able to do that throughout the season.”

#65 Chance Warmack, Offensive Line

On the bye week:

“It was great. I got to see my family and spend some time with them. I watched a few games. I was able to get into myself a little bit and just think about how the season has been and what I can improve on. It is always good to just take a step back and look at things from the outside.”

On what he learned from the upsets this past weekend:

“Anything can happen at any time in college football and you have to respect your opponent regardless of what their ranking is at the time. It was a lesson learned this past weekend that anybody can go down. I look at it as a blessing just to see what can happen if you’re not on your game.”

On if he watched the Missouri vs. Vanderbilt game this weekend:

“I got to see a little bit of the game just because we are playing them this week. They are a really physical defense with some smart players.”

On what Alabama needs to do when facing Missouri:

“We just need to execute the small things. We didn’t really do a good job the week before of just executing like we should have, and I think that is going to be the main factor in this game coming up. We just need to stay more physical and execute on the small things.”

On if going to a new or loud stadium affects the call on the line:

“Yes and no. It all depends on your preparation. We try to do a good job of preparing for an away game because we know that it is going to be loud. The fact that we have a lot of players that have experience with away games in the past means that we can always make adjustments. But again, you don’t know what they are going to bring and it is best to always be prepared.”

#83 Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver

On the bye week:

“With the injuries that some of the players have, we are just thankful that we got a break. It was a nice long break for us. We definitely needed it.”

On if the break gave him a chance to rejuvenate:

“Most definitely. The long break has allowed me to focus back on what I need to do and get this injury right.”

On preparing for Missouri:

“We mainly focused on what we need to do to improve as a team and as individuals. We prepared for Missouri a little bit, but we mostly just focused on what we need to do.”

On Missouri’s defense:

“We just know that they are a zone team and that they will come down and press us, especially on the receivers. They are physical, and we know that they are going to come out hard playing with us.”

On how Missouri’s defense is different than any other defense they have faced yet:

“They move around a lot and that is something that we need to get used to, and something that we need to watch film on to see where they are at.”

On how Alabama will play against Missouri’s defense:

“Mainly it is about us. As an offense, if we get the ball first we just have to come out and strike hard. We need to keep striking until they quit. As an offense we have to move the ball. We have to give our defense a chance to rest.”

On if it is hard to make audibles when the crowd is loud:

“It does at times, but that is why we work on it during the week so we can communicate from the center to the quarterback to the outside receiver to the inside receiver.”

On if the team has been concentrating on scoring touchdowns in the red zone:

“That is one of the main focuses that we work on during the week. Whenever we get into the red area that is one of the things that we love to do – just score. We want to give ourselves a chance to put seven points on the board and not just three points.”

#32 C.J. Mosley, Linebacker

On how much the team has been focusing on Missouri:

“We have been practicing on them a little bit in the practice before the bye week. We kind of have an idea about what they are doing.”

On what he knows about Missouri offensively:

“What we already know is that they are a fast-paced offense. They are a spray team. They are going to be in some empties and different kinds of shifts and motions. As a whole, just like any other team, we need to stop the run first and defend the past second.”

On if he watched the Missouri vs. Vanderbilt game:

“I’ve seen film, but I haven’t actually watched any games.”

On the bye week:

“We had a good three days of practice for our bye week practice. None of the players fell off and, like Coach Saban said, got the warm and fuzzies by going home. It was a great feeling to get to go home and see my family. We got over that first hump of the season and now it is time to start the second half and start off right.”

On how big of a factor it is that no one from Alabama has played in Memorial Stadium:

“It is going to be a great experience. As a leader and one of the veterans on the team, I just need to make sure that everybody is prepared and treats this game just like any other SEC game.”

On if it is equally tough on the offense and defense to play in front of a loud crowd:

“It is tougher on the offense. When their offense is on the field the crowd isn’t as loud so you can actually communicate better without having to scream and yell.”