Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Oct. 12, 2009

 

Opening Comments:
“Well, just a quick comment about the Ole Miss game.  I was really pleased with the effort.  We played hard and competed well in the game. When it came down to execution, when we did things and did the fundamental things right and focused, we had good execution. We had success and when we didn’t do that, we didn’t do as well and that’s usually pretty typical. We continue to have to focus on doing the little things right – discipline and execution – to get things right so that we are going to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful. There is no rest for the weary around here and we are playing a very good team in South Carolina.  The key thing is the players have to realize there are a lot of good teams. We have to re-focus, re-center our energy and go to the next game. The last game was a great win, but the next game is the only thing that really matters.

“We had some outstanding performances in the game.  On offense, Mark Ingram did a fantastic job.  (William) Vlachos, who was recognized in the SEC as lineman (of the week) and Barrett Jones, did a good job.  Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson both had really good games on defense.  On special teams, Cory Reamer, Leigh Tiffin and Nico Johnson all did a really good job on special teams for us.

“This is one of those things, I’ve used this analogy before, we are kind of climbing a mountain and the higher you get the more treacherous it is, the more focus you need and more discipline and execution. Things are a lot more critical if you make a mistake.  I think our players understand that, the need to understand it and we need to be re-centered and re-focused on a really good team.

“The only injury we had was Rod Woodson.  We‘ve got some guys nicked up a little bit.  Rod Woodson will probably be out for at least a week with a patella tendon injury.  It’s not something that requires surgery at this point.  Hopefully after a week, we’ll have to sort of play him day-by-day.

“We are really looking forward to getting back home and playing at home.  It seems like it’s been a long time.  I am sure a nationally televised game on ESPN in Bryant-Denny Stadium is something that will be a positive for our players.

“South Carolina is really playing well on both sides of the ball and on special teams.  I think some marked differences this year is they have a little bit more balance on offense.  It’s always a very challenging pro-style offense with Steve Spurrier, who is a very good offensive coach.  He does a very good job coaching the quarterback and getting the ball in the right place and also getting in the right plays, relative to what you’re doing on defense.  I think their quarterback has played well, but they’ve had balance in their offense.  They’ve got two or three running backs that they use.  They’ve got a good group of receivers.  They’ve got good skills players and I think the balance is the real key.  Defensively, they are very athletic.  Eric Norwood obviously is an outstanding player.  So is (Cliff) Matthews, the other end.  They are good edge-rushers.  They have a good pressure package and do a really, really good job. Ellis Johnson is a really good defensive coach and has done a really good job with this group and they are one of the top defensive teams in the country.  They’ve got good specialists on special teams.  They do a really good job with their special teams.  This is a good all-around football team.  They are ranked.  They are 5-1 and other than a four-point loss at Georgia, this team would be undefeated and probably ranked a lot higher.  This is certainly going to be a challenging game for us.”

On Nico Johnson:
“I think that Nico is a fine young player and he did a good job in the game for us.  There is lots of competition out there.  We are going to get Jerrell Harris back and that’s the position he plays, so those two guys will compete and get reps this week and later in the week, we’ll have to make a decision as to who is most ready to play in certain roles, relative to how both guys can contribute.  I think both guys can contribute.  He did a good job, especially the first time out.  He just played in regular and did a really good job on special teams as well. We are really pleased with his progress.  As everyone on our team, we all can improve and that’s what our focus is going to be.”

On his relationship with Steve Spurrier:
“I’ve known Steve for a long time.  I was his assistant in the East-West (college all-star) game years ago.  The year I went to LSU.  Butch Davis and I were his two assistants.  I’ve known Steve for a long time.  I know his wife as well and so does Terry and we have a good relationship with them.  He actually rode back on the LSU plane with me when we came back from the East-West game and they about blew the Gator plane up in Baton Rouge when it waiting there to pick him up and take him home.  I have a lot of respect for him.  He has done a great job every place he has been.  We played against him at LSU when he was still at Florida.  I think he is an outstanding coach and has done a really job at South Carolina.”

On the job William Vlachos has done this season replacing Antoine Caldwell:
“He has done an outstanding job.  He is a bright guy.  He is strong.  He is very athletic.  His only problem that anybody could point to is he is not quite as tall as everybody else that plays the position maybe, or most people that play that position.  From toughness, from strength, from a competitive character standpoint, he is just as good as anybody we have ever had and is doing an outstanding job for us.”

On the offense’s red zone struggles at Mississippi:
“First of all, we had first and three at the three twice.  We got a penalty once on a play that probably would have scored a touchdown.  We fumbled a snap that hit the quarterback right in the hands on another occasion on another series that put us back on the seven- or eight-yard line and wasted a play.  It was not all, and giving Ole Miss as much credit as we possibly can, there were still some missed executions on our part.  Some in the passing game and some in the errors that we made that put us behind in down and distance.  These are all correctible things that we can improve on and certainly need to improve on and come away with touchdowns instead of field goals, especially when we get it that deep.”

On what makes Mark Ingram so good and effective:
“Mark’s a very good competitor.  He’s got good speed and he’s got power.  He’s built just like you’d like a running back to be, sort of low center of gravity.  He is explosive.  I think the thing he has really done this year is he feels very comfortable and instinctive and making the cuts that he is making and the plays that he is running and certainly gets the most of out of it. For the most part he has the ability to finish if he gets through the line. I do think that our team has blocked well and our receivers have blocked well, and that has enhanced his ability to make some longer runs.  He’s really done a really good and has been a real work-horse for us so far.  Hopefully we can get some other guys going with him and that will make him even better.”

On your team’s identity after six games:
“I think that at times, we’ve played physical, tough with great competitive character, but I also think at times we’ve lost our focus a little bit in games and not played and sustained that intensity like you would like.  I think that is something we need to continue to work on.  I felt that way in the Ole Miss game. We didn’t play as well in the second half on defense.  We needed to put the game away and never really did it.  We intercept pass with 12 or 13 minutes left in the game on the 10-yard line that would make the game go 19-10.  The game is certainly not over.  You’ve got to play for 60 minutes in the game. There is just a small difference in having the focus and the intensity and playing extremely well and losing that small edge and not playing quite as well, and making a few mental errors that allows the other team to gain momentum. That’s something that we need to work on, so it would be more from a consistency standpoint that an inability to do it.”

On improvement of Leigh Tiffin:
“Well, I think a few weeks ago, you all were asking me why he missed two extra points.  He’s done a good job.  He did a good job on kickoffs for us in this last game and anytime you make five field goals like he did, he’s been pretty consistent.  I think the big thing with Leigh is when he stays technically in his zone, he is pretty consistent.  I think every time he misses one, it’s because of something he did wrong.  It’s kind of like my golf swing.  When I rotate my elbow out and get that club laid off, I hit some really good slices. I mean some that go in the record book.  If I can get that right, I can hit it straight.  We all have those issues.  He has a done a pretty good job all year long, and when he’s missed, it’s been for a reason. When he loses his focus a little bit he loses his technique, but other than that he has done an outstanding job for us.”

Alabama Player Quotes:

Greg McElroy:
On Alabama’s offensive struggles inside the red zone against Mississippi:
“I think a lot of the problems was they (Mississippi) were kind of changing their look at the snap.  We just stopped ourselves so many times.  I fumbled a snap, which is our first fumbled snap of the year.  That’s inexcusable – you can’t have that.  We also had a false start penalty.  I think it was (Colin) Peek that fell out of his stance just a little early.  We just stopped ourselves.  We had first and three at the three twice.   It was disappointing and unfortunate to have two wasted plays.  It is difficult to overcome once you have a couple of negative plays when you are that close to the end zone.  Credit to them, they had a good defense, they really did.  It just seems like we just kept having one guy bust, whether it was me or somebody else – one guy would bust every time we made a trip down there.  It led to a negative turnout and a lot field goals.”

On whether or not South Carolina can key on the mistakes made by Alabama against Mississippi:
“It is just something where I have to see the field a little bit better.  I was making my decisions before I really saw the coverage role.  I was changing plays before I really saw, and I was changing to pass and didn’t do a good enough job disguising what I was doing.  It was unfortunate, but we were fortunate to win by 19 points.  It’s one of those things where that’s the great thing about this team – when the offense is having a little bit of an off day, the defense will pick us right back up.  When the defense has a little bit of an off day, like against Kentucky, the offense goes and scores almost 40 points.   The defense still did great against Kentucky, they forced four turnovers, but as far as yards given up, I think they got a little bit tired after a 17-play drive, so the offense had to pick them up.”

Javier Arenas:
On maintaining the mindset that the previous six games do not matter:
“Of course.  It’s always like that with anything you do.  You’ve always got to look towards the future.  If you’re doing well then you try to sustain and maintain.  If you’re not doing good then how can you get better?  You have to look at what’s ahead”

On facing a South Carolina receiving corps that possesses great height, and whether or not that changes his approach:
“No, it doesn’t change the approach.  You always have to come with your A-game.  It’s the SEC.  I don’t think it’s all the receivers that are that size.  When they’re smaller, they’re way faster.  The different sizes come with different attributes.  Taller guys can jump and go get the ball, and the smaller guys will just run past you.  You have to bring you A-game and go with the flow.  If the ball is in the air and they catch, just rip it out.”

On facing South Carolina’s quarterback, Steven Garcia, in high school:
“He was the best quarterback in the state, and he had great players around him.  He was kind of like what Tim Tebow is to the (Florida) Gators as far as keeping the team together and running the ball a lot.  It will be a great game for me to come and go against him again.”

Kareem Jackson:
On facing South Carolina’s tall receivers:
“That’s the thing with playing any SEC team; you know they’re going to have athletes and guys that can make a play on the ball in any situation.  We’ll just go in this week, put in another good week of practice, go by the game plan, work on technique and try to do all the things right.”

On Coach Saban’s analogy of the season being like climbing a mountain:
“At the beginning of the season, we try to take it upon ourselves to the team concept of climbing the mountain.  That’s everybody’s mentality right now, just trying to take it one game at a time, doing all the things right and trying to get better as a team, week in and week out.”

Rolando McClain:
On South Carolina:
“They’re obviously a good team.  I haven’t really watched a lot of film on them.  I saw them on TV when they played Ole Miss, but other than that I haven’t really watched film on them.”

On being a “coach” on the field:
“Surprisingly, to me it’s come pretty naturally.  It just came with the experience, knowing what to do and just being comfortable out there on the field.  I just know that there are so many guys around me that depend on me and my leadership this year, and now it’s something that I like doing.  I think the whole defense has taken how I feel with the game.   I feel like you put all of your work in during the week and then on Saturdays just go out there and have fun and relax.  Like Kareem (Jackson said), he said I’m a joker on the field.  I can make jokes because I know during the week that I did all the work.  I prepared all the way for the game.  I am confident in my ability to really execute the game plan, and I’m confident in my players out there with me.   I’m just relaxed and trying to have fun and make plays.”

On whether the referees are taking the fun out of football with excessive celebration penalties (in reference to being cautioned by a referee after making a tackle):
“Not really.  I wasn’t really celebrating.  It wasn’t something that I got frustrated with.  What’s fun for me was making the tackle, a tackle for a loss.  That was fun for me.  I don’t care about the celebration.  I’m not real big on celebrating.  They’re out there to do their job, and I’m out there to do mine.  He just told me to get back to the huddle.  I said, “Yes sir,” and I got back to the huddle.”

Mark Ingram:
On critically reviewing film of a missed block against Mississippi:
“It is always easier to look at the plays you do well on.  When you get the quarterback hit pretty hard or a play doesn’t work because you missed your blocking assignment, it kind of sticks with you more than those good plays.  The first thing I looked at was that play.  I kept rewinding it and rewinding it again.  You’re supposed look past plays like that, but when you miss a blocking assignment it kind of sticks with you and you want to get better at it.  That stuck with me, and I want to get better and take advantage of the mistake that I made.”

On having only been a part of two losses:
“We just keep trying to get better each and every week.  Older guys learned the hard way, so we don’t want to get punished in order to try and get refocused or motivated.  We just want to keep getting better each week and keep improving each week as a team, without having a loss.”