Countdown to Kickoff
Week 8 Press Conference Transcript



Oct. 15, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban
Opening Statement:
“I think during this last game our players really managed things right under difficult circumstances - playing on the road, in the SEC, especially with the weather conditions that we had and playing in a place that we had never been before. I was really pleased with the energy, intensity and focus that we came out and started the game with. It’s pretty obvious that when we have a high level of focus and attention to detail, we execute well and we play well. When we don’t, we can become pretty average. That was kind of the situation in this game. We were dominating the game and had a break. Then we came out and didn’t play as well after that break, and we got outscored 10-0 and let the other team back in the game. The whole emphasis is on playing to a standard of excellence and having the right energy and focus. When we have that we play pretty well.

We have things to correct on both sides of the ball. We will most certainly work on those things this week. We had some special teams errors in the game. It’s not always the obvious ones. We drop a punt snap that was a good snap, we give up a kick-off return where we don’t execute properly in the coverage, we field the ball on the 4-yard line on a punt, we ran out 5 or 6 yards deep in the end zone. Judgments, decisions and specialists all have to execute and we have to do a better job of that.

We had some guys that played extremely well in this game. I think the entire offensive line played pretty well. Barrett Jones, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon; those guys are the offensive players. Barrett was the honorable mention for the conference. C.J. Mosley and Dee Milliner on defense; C.J. was the conference player of the week and Landon Collins, Brent Calloway and Jeremy Shelley on special teams. Injury updates; everybody is ok. AJ is ok. He has a bruised knee. He’s still sore. He will try to do some things in practice today. Christion Jones has an ankle sprain, so he’s day-to-day. Everybody is ok. Eddie Lacy is ok. We have our nicks and bruises like everybody does at this time of the year, but we need to manage through that and do the best we can to prepare for this game.

Games like this are more about the rivalry and less about people’s record. Tennessee has a really good offensive team. It’s always a challenge to play on the road. This is certainly a challenging place to play. They have one of the best offensive teams in the country statistically. They have two great receivers that are some of the top receivers in our conference. They have a very good quarterback who has done a fantastic job for them this year. They’ve got a big offensive line. They’ve been able to create balance on offense. They’ve played well on defense at times and have shown they have the capability to do that. They are a very well-coached team. Derek (Dooley) has done a good job there. They are very good on special teams. This is a challenging game for us. This game means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly it means a lot to me and to us. I think our players will work hard this week to get ready to play the best football.”

On LaMichael Fanning’s personal foul:
“I think this is a young player who’s excited about getting in the game who makes a very, very poor decision and judgment on making that play. It’s something that we don’t condone here. It’s not how we want our players to play. I think he understands that what he did was not done in the right way, in terms of being a strong competitor, and we are managing internally things for him to do to make better choices and decisions in the future. I think with all young people when they make mistakes, that’s what you really want to try to do. He has apologized, written letters of apology to the player and the coach. I talked to Gary (Pinkel) yesterday about it. He understands our position on it, and there are other things that are being done internally in the program and we just take it from there.”

On Adrian Hubbard:
“Adrian’s done a really good job. Missouri’s a very difficult scheme. They take big splits sometimes, which I think sort of helps the pass rushers at times, especially if you’re running games. I think Adrian has gotten more and more confident in what he’s supposed to do, and he’s certainly got the ability to rush off the edge and make plays. We’re pleased and happy with the progress that he’s made this year and the production that he’s been able to come up with.”

On Deion Belue’s performance following his shoulder injury:
“Deion did fine in the game. He played well in the game. Like all the players in the game there are things that he could do better but we were pleased that he got through the game and didn’t have any further problems physically. Hopefully he’ll be able to do a little bit more and get a little stronger this week.”

On what Alabama’s defense has done well:
“Well it’s been a hard-working group, and they’ve had a really good attitude about what they want to try to do. I still think there are a lot of areas that we need to improve on. We’re going to be challenged in a way that we’ve never been challenged by the quality of offensive team that we’re playing this week and their capabilities in the passing game as well as the balance they have in running the ball, so we’re going to need to continue to improve. They’re going to need to continue to improve and play well as a group to be able to have success against this kind of offensive team.”

On the performance following the rain delay and who helps keep Saban on his toes:
“When we were in the locker room, you can only go on what you see. We had told the players before, because we anticipated that this might happen. This is exactly how we were going to handle a rain delay, and they handled it well in the locker room. We had great focus, great attention to detail. We were going over everything like it was halftime. Everybody had the right eyes, the right look in their eye, and all that kind of thing. Obviously, we didn’t come out and play with the same kind of energy and intensity, which is probably difficult especially with the circumstances in the game as they were. And then when you take a shot as soon as you go out there and they had a kick-off return for a touchdown, we didn’t respond to that very well either. So there was a combination of things. I’m responsible for it, I need to do a better job of it. If you have any ideas of what I can do to myself, I’d be glad to do it. I feel bad about it. Any time our team goes out there and I don’t think they’re playing the way they should, then I’m constantly searching for what I could’ve done better, what we could’ve done better to help put them in a better position.”

On former Alabama player and current Tennessee player Darrington Sentimore:
“He was a good player when he was here. We’re happy that he’s doing a good job and having success. I hope he’s doing what he needs to do off the field and in school. His problems here were not relative to being a football player, so it had nothing to do with pass rush or sacks or any of that.”

On Vinnie Sunseri being in the right place at the right time:
“Vinnie’s a very instinctive player. He’s a very bright guy. I think football is really important to him, so he works hard at it all the time. He loves to play, but he’s actually playing a new position here. He had never played defensive back before, and he’s really worked hard at becoming the kind of disciplined eye control player that you need to be when you play in secondary. I think that’s one of the things that he’s made the most progress on, and I think that’s helped him continue to develop and play well for us.”

On Vinnie Sunseri’s interception in the Arkansas game and Saban’s relationship with Sunseri and his family:
“I really have a lot of respect for the entire family, certainly Vinnie. But sometimes when you work on something and it happens in the game like you worked on it and the guy makes a play, you get excited about that. That’s kind of what happened on that play. I’m always excited when we get an interception, and I’m always disappointed if we throw one.”

On similarities between Alabama’s offense and Tennessee’s offense:
“I think there are some similarities, but I think the things that they try to emphasize, the things they try to do, the quality of their players, how they use the very good skilled players that they have, as well as a very good offensive line to run the ball and create balance makes it a very, very difficult team to defend. They’ve always done something a little bit different against us in every game. Last year they had three receivers in the game and reloaded one of them and made two back runs to get us in nickel. I’m sure we’ll be adjusting and adapting to something again this year.”

On grading the offense, defense and special teams and where the areas for improvement are:
“Well I don’t really grade them, I just focus on things that we need to do better. I think the biggest thing that we’ve had to work on is dealing with some of the players that we’ve lost, especially on special teams. That has really sort of affected the continuity that we have on special teams. We’ve had to move guys around and shift, and you really kind of lose the cumulative effect of the experience that you gain from week to week to week when you have to do that. That’s something that we’re working hard on to get those players enough knowledge and experience to be able to go out there and execute and do well at those positions. That’s one of the challenging things that we have to do. I just think on offense and defense we have to play with more consistency, play at a high level all the time, play to a standard all the time, which is what I continue to harp about, so that we’re going to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful .”

On the advantages and disadvantages on the knowledge of personnel and schemes between Alabama and Tennessee:
“I don’t know that there’s an advantage or disadvantage. I coached with Derek for seven years, so I think they kind of know what we do and we kind of can see that they’re doing a lot of the stuff that we do, especially on defense. So I don’t know if there’s an advantage or disadvantage. The advantages are created by the players and their execution and getting them ready to go out there and be able to execute well in the situation, because you never know what the other team is going to do. Even if you know what they do, you don’t know when they’re going to do it, so you have to respond and react properly on whichever side of the ball or special teams or whatever the circumstance and situation is in the game.”

On Alabama’s young defense and No. 1 national rankings in defensive statistics:
“Well I don’t look at this like you all look at it. Where we’re ranked in defense doesn’t really matter to me. I look at how we play, the mistakes that we make, the things that we need to get better on. I’m concerned about covering the people that we play the next game, playing well in the next game, because none of that stuff matter if you don’t play well in the next game. So the challenge for us is the next game. That's what I’m focused on, that’s what I’m looking at, that’s what our entire staff is trying to do, and I think that needs to be the focus of our players. You start feeling good about where you are because you won the last tournament, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to win the next one. You start feeling entitled and you don’t prepare the right way to do the right things then you don’t play as well. So our focus is on what we need to do to play well in this game. None of that other stuff matters. It only matters at the end—what was the whole body of work that you could do on a consistent basis, and none of the rest of it matters. We’re going to play a lot better teams and a lot better offensive teams in the future and we’re going to be challenged in different ways. I’m concerned about reacting to those challenges properly, not what we’ve done last week or the week before. So I’d appreciate it if we don’t have to talk about that anymore, where we’re ranked or what we’re doing or what we did. I’m looking at what we’re going to do.”

On Tennessee’s offensive line only allowing three sacks this season:
“They’re big, they’re very physical. They’ve got three or four guys that have played a lot of football and are really experienced. This is by far the best offensive line we’ve played against all year long. I think they do a really good job with their protection schemes and make it difficult to pressure you. They’re maybe a little different than they have been in the past. They’re a lot more protection conscious, and that’s keeping the quarterback from getting hit much and he’s pretty smart about getting rid of the ball and not getting hit. I think all those things contribute to them not getting sacked a lot.”

#37 Robert Lester, Defensive Back
On the victory over Missouri:
“I think that we played well. We were going into a game that we didn’t know what to expect, a new atmosphere and bad weather conditions. I think that we handled it well. The weather played a huge part in it.”

On the rain:
“I think that you need to zone in. It is not our first time playing in the rain. We have practiced in the rain multiple times during camp. You have to overcome adversity, and I think that our players handled it well.”

On the Missouri offense and how it prepared them for the rest of the season:
“It was difficult, but as long as you are prepared and look at the right things and be ready for what they like to do and their motions and cover their receivers, I think that you will be fine. This won’t be the last. There are a lot more things to come. From Georgia Southern running the triple option against us being the most difficult thing that I ever faced, to something else that we have never seen, we are ready.”

On Tennessee’s offense:
“I know that they are going to try and run the ball on us. If they can establish the run, then they will have a lot of success. Tyler Bray is doing an excellent job of throwing the ball, so they are a double threat from passing and running. We are going to trust that our defensive line will do their job. We are going to help out our defense as much as we can, if that means covering the receivers a few seconds longer then we are ready to do it. I know that they [receivers] are hard workers and capable of making big plays. They are guys that get after it. With this being such a big game, I know that they are going to come in playing just as hard as any other receiver would. We are ready for it.”

On the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry:
“It means a lot. Being there and knowing that their fans will be dressed in all of that orange, it means a lot to have our fans behind us, pushing us and motivating us in this game.”

On improving on defense:
“We can be better in communicating the coverage. I do not think that there is a play that we are fundamentally sound across the board. We can always improve in tackling. We have had too many missed tackles. Just little things that can contribute to other teams making big plays on us we need to improve.”

#42 Eddie Lacy, Running Back
On his thoughts on the Missouri game:
“I think that it was a great game. Offensively, we came out fast. The defense does what the defense always does by stopping the opponent a number of times. Overall, it was a pretty good game.”

On what he thinks he could have personally done better:
“I could have made a couple of better reads here and there, but I think overall I had a pretty good game.”

On what he saw during his long touchdown run:
“We knew that we weren’t going to be able to go outside because of the way that the defensive line slanted so much, and our offensive line did a great job of blocking and controlling the blocks. The wideout down the field blocked the corner, and it basically just left me and the safety. After I broke that tackle, the only thing I was thinking was don’t get caught. The offensive line and the wideout did a great job at blocking.”

On if he knew while running it down the sideline that he was going to have to cut it back:
“Yeah, he had a pretty good angle. I wasn’t going to be able to outrun him. I’m not that fast. I was just thinking I’d make a move, and then if I broke it, go score.”

On how good it felt to open up the scoring with the long touchdown:
“It felt great. It gave us the momentum. It sucked the life right out of them and their stadium. It was a great run for a countless number of reasons.”

On the effect the rain had on the running attack:
“I don’t think that it had too much of an effect. It was a turf field, so we still had a good grip. I don’t think it was that big of a factor.”

On T.J. Yeldon’s play:
“I don’t even know how to explain it. He is a freshman, but he is great. He is able to go out and make the same big plays that any running back could do. For him to be able to do that, being so young, that’s great.”

On the difference the weather delay made:
“We started the game off the way that we have been trying to start out all season long. We finally did it. Then we had the rain delay, and we had to chill out in the locker room for a little while. We tried to make it a lot like halftime, but a lot of the players lost their focus, myself included, so when we came out to play afterward, we weren’t as ready as when the game started so we got off to a slow start.”

On how the team can correct coming out to a slow start moving forward:
“It is all mental. We just have to focus. We know that we are going to be in there for a long time, so we just have to do whatever we have to do to keep our minds ready, so we can go out there and pick up right where we left off.”

#3 Vinnie Sunseri, Defensive Back
On his thoughts on the Missouri game:
“We came out very strong and probably played our best football yet of this year within the first 16 or 17 minutes of the game, the first quarter leading into the second quarter. We played fabulous football and then we got that rain delay, and we came out sluggish and a little lazy. We can’t do that. We have to stress that we need to play our best football at all times. We have to come out with a passion that can’t be matched. That is something that we need to learn from, but we were able to pull out a good victory and learn from some things.”

On how the team avoids coming out slow again:
“It is a learning experience. I think that we know how to handle that more now with that happening. You can say that we came out flat because we did come out flat. We did not play with the same emotion that we started the game with. We got back to it at the end of the game and were able to get back into our groove that we were in at the beginning of the game. It definitely is a learning experience and something that we will definitely take in.”

On stopping the run against Missouri:
“It goes back to coaching. We get coached up to stop the run. If we make a team one-dimensional, it makes the DB’s job that much easier and the defensive job that much easier. Coach Smart and Coach Saban and Coach Pruitt really stress that. They’re great coaches, and they put us in situations to make great plays.”

On his interception in the Missouri game:
“The quarterback threw the ball behind him, and I was able to get a hand on it and knock it in the air, then I was able to dive and catch it. Everyone said that I made it too difficult just to make it a good looking play. It was a good play, and I give all the credit to my teammates. They covered everyone else up to where I was able to make a play.”

On how he always seems to be in the right place:
“I give all the credit to my coaches and the other players on the field. I’m just one part of a great puzzle piece. C.J. Mosley, Dee Milliner, Damion Square, Jesse Williams, Trey Depriest, Robert Lester. What do I have to do? I have so many great players around me to make plays that they make it that much easier. Coaching also. They put me in positions to make plays and everyone else is making plays on the field as well. You’ve got to go back to the coaches. Coach Saban and Coach Pruitt put me in situations to make plays. They’re great coaches.”

On playing against his dad who is a coach at Tennessee:
“It’s going to be tough. It hasn’t really hit me until this point when I’m answering all these questions about it. It’s something that I hadn’t really expected to be this tough. I knew I’d be playing against an offense and my dad coaches defense, but to be going against the person I love most in this world is really tough. I’m going to play with the same emotion and tenacity that I have every week, but after the game I’m going to have to give him a hug and tell him that I love him and miss him.”