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Alabama Football Players Talk about the Tennessee Game



Alabama Football Players Talk about the Tennessee Game

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? The University of Alabama football team held its weekly media day Monday afternoon at the Naylor Stone Media Suite in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility.

The Crimson Tide (5-2, 3-1 SEC) is preparing for one of its biggest games this Saturday as Tennessee (4-2, 2-1 SEC) visits Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The game will be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports with kickoff set for 11:34 a.m. (CDT).

Several members of the Crimson Tide football team met with the media on Monday to talk about the upcoming Tennessee game. Here are some of their comments:

Senior wide receiver Matt Caddell

On the Tennessee-Alabama game
“The Tennessee game is always a special game. It’s one of the biggest out-of-state rivalries, but in other ways it seems like whenever any other SEC school plays Alabama it’s a rivalry. It’s such a tradition that it being the third weekend in October it gets the fans riled up, and Alabama fans always want to beat Tennessee and Auburn.”

On getting open on the field
“Basically just executing the play properly and [John Parker Wilson] was doing a good job on putting the ball where it needs to be. I was finding spots to get open and just catching the ball and turning up field.”

Junior offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell

On Tennessee’s defense
“I tip my hat to them. Their defense is probably the best we’re going to play so far. I’ve watched them a lot. We have just got to make sure we are the most mentally prepared that we’ve been all year. I know how physical and how big this game is. I’ve played through two Tennessee games already, so I know this game is going to mean a lot to us and to Alabama football.”

On Rashad Johnson
“He has come in and worked so hard. He won’t let any obstacle stand in his way. He works hard and he is at the front of anything we do. He shows up and does what he’s supposed to do. Right now, he’s playing like an All-American. He honestly is. He comes in everyday and is a leader for our defense. He’s probably one of the best-playing defensive players we’ve got on our team right now. He’s just been doing a wonderful job for us this season, and I tip my hat to what kind of guy he is and as a leader.”

Senior defensive end Wallace Gilberry

On Tennessee’s offense
“It poses a big challenge. Their offense gives up few sacks. Erik Ainge is a guy who definitely can get the ball away before he goes down and not have an intentional grounding. They are a very well put together unit.”

On Rashad Johnson
“He is a guy who has been overlooked. Not just this year but last year too. He is a guy who walked on. I don’t see how he is a walk on. He and I kind of connect on a personal level ever since he’s been here. You can definitely count on him. He’s an athlete. He played the running back position well but he’s definitely a defensive guy. He really has a knack for hitting you and he definitely has great hands. You can tell who the athletes are and who aren’t and he sticks out in a crowd.”

On Tennessee game
“We’ve only beaten them once. It definitely means a lot. There is definitely some tradition there. Coach Fulmer and those guys whenever we play them it’s a very physical game. I’m expecting nothing less. It’s always been close. Last year up there the game got away from us in the second half. We’ve been playing them close for the last couple of years. It’s an SEC battle. It’s in our conference and both of the programs need it.”

Redshirt freshman running back Terry Grant

On confidence in winning close games

“We’ve proven we can win games when they’re close. We just have to take advantage of when we’re up and we’ve got to learn to stay up as a team and stop letting people come back. It’s been making my heart jump out of my chest for the past couple of weeks. We don??t like it but everything happens for a reason so it??s a lesson learned.”

Sophomore fullback Baron Huber

On how many Alabama-Tennessee games he has seen in person
“Since I can remember I haven’t missed one. I always went to the game in Knoxville. The first game I came to Tuscaloosa was in 2003 when it was the five-overtime game. It’s always been a big game to me.”

On his memories of the series
“I can remember the first time Tennessee beat Alabama, I was at my great grandmother’s house. Peyton Manning came (to Birmingham) and they won 41-14. That was the first time I ever saw Alabama lose. I was 11 years old.”

On any relatives that are still Tennessee fans
“My family is all Alabama fans now except for one uncle. We tried to get him to convert over. He’ll wear a Tennessee shirt and an Alabama hat. He’ll still cheer for orange every once in awhile”

Senior linebacker Darren Mustin

On what this game means personally means to him

“All the games are big to me. This game is a little something different. I know more players from Tennessee and you tend to want to beat the players you know. My family is from Tennessee. I really don’t want to lose this game because my sister went to UT and I don’t want to hear it from her.”

On this game being a mark in history for him as a player and for Alabama
“You walk down the halls and you see paintings that are hung from the UT game of people who make these big-time plays. That kind of thing immortalizes them because they’re in a painting. I’m just going to go out and work hard this week in practice and try and get better so we can win the game on Saturday. If we win the game, that’s going to go down in history longer than me.”

On his opinion if at this point in the season it’s time to separate the teams
“It’s the time of the year where the teams that are supposed to be great, come out and play great and the ones that aren’t, start lacking. We do not want to start lacking. We need to put the pedal to the metal and get to work. It’s not a time to coast. Like coach said, when you coast, you go downhill, and we can’t coast. We have to try and fight and go up hill. We’ve got to do all we can to get better every day.”

Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson

On Tennessee game
“It’s a big game. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. It’s a big game for us definitely. I think it’s a big point in the season as well. Tennessee always has a good team. They are going to play us tough. It’s going to be a tough game and we know that. We have the whole week to prepare for it though. It’s all about how we come to practice this week.”

On Alabama’s offense against Ole Miss
“I think that we’ve gotten better every week. We are right on the edge of being great. We want to make the jump and really become a great offense. We have the talent and we have the scheme. We just have to make that commitment and get there. We knew we were moving the ball well. We were taking care of it. That’s what we have to do. Move the ball. Stay in drives and just keep our defense on the field if we want to win. I think it was better execution. We weren’t perfect. We had a couple slip-ups but we really need to work hard today and correct those. I think we have a good chance to play pretty well.”

On close games this season
“We prepare the same just like we’ve been doing. We just have to work on the little things to get better. We’ve had a couple close ones on offense and a couple big stances late on defense. The whole team is getting involved in it. Everyone knows what it takes and knows what we have to do to win those close games.”