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Football Press Conference Transcript

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed the media on Monday.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban addressed the media on Monday.

Oct. 22, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban
Opening Statement)

“We had some adversity this last game, some that we created for ourselves and some that they created with their great effort. Needless to say, we did the things we needed to do to be effective and control the end of the game. Now it’s time to move onto the next game. At this time in the season, it’s like you are running a 100-meter race and you are getting down to about 70 meters with 30 meters to go and a lot of people are close, chomping right on your heels. You have to be able to finish the race. It’s important that people continue to do the things that they need to do to prepare well, to improve, to play the way that we are capable of playing and to execute, whatever your role is. Whether it’s to cover a kick, being on the kickoff team, being a receiver, being a defensive back, playing nose guard, it really doesn’t matter. We had some guys that had some outstanding performances in the last game. Offensively, Amari Cooper, who was Freshman of the Week in the league. AJ McCarron and Michael Williams did a really good job of blocking. Defensively, Deion Belue and Dee Milliner did a really good job of covering some really skilled guys. Vinnie Sunseri also had a really good game. On special teams, Cyrus Jones, which was his first time as a return guy, he did some positive things back there. Nico Johnson and T.J. Yeldon did a good job as core special teams guys. We have a lot of guys that are beat up a little bit. It was a very physical game, but we don’t have anybody that is in question of whether they will be able to practice. We might have some guys that aren’t full speed today but I think we will be ok by tomorrow and definitely by Wednesday. It’s good to get back and play at home. It seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve played at home. It’s always good to be a part of homecoming but we have a very challenging team this week with Mississippi State. Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job there for them to be 7-0. They’ve won nine straight games I think. That speaks volumes on the great job that he’s done from a program standpoint there. They have a very good offensive team, probably one of the best, most balanced offenses we’ve faced all year. Tyler Russell has done a phenomenal job. They have a really good runner. Chad Bumphis is an explosive, good receiver who is a good run after the catch guy as well as has great speed. They lead the nation in the turnover margin, which is always big in winning. Defensively, they are one of the top, most difficult teams to score on in the country, ranked in the top 10. They have two really good corners. They are physical upfront; they play with a lot of toughness. This is, no doubt, the best team we’ve played to this point in the season.”

On AJ McCarron:

“AJ has played very well for us. He hasn’t turned the ball over. Makes a lot of good choices and decisions – passing efficiency has been really good. I think AJ has been a really good leader for us, affected the other players on the team and the last couple of weeks I think we have really come together a little better offensively, in terms of consistency and balance. There are still a lot of things to improve on and I’ve talked about it before – if you pass the ball, you have to protect and route-runners have to get open and catch the ball when they get open and the quarterback has to throw it to the right place and at the right time. [AJ] has been able to process the information and get the ball where he needs to for the most part, pretty efficiently and effectively.”

On how Alabama and Mississippi State are both similar in using players from Mississippi Community Colleges:

“We have had a guy or two each year that has helped us. I think that first of all, you are getting a guy that is a little more mature, a guy that has played at a little bit better level of competition, especially if you can get him to come at midyear and they have a better chance to learn your system. I think where you have a need, the most important thing about recruiting junior college guys to me is that they want to go someplace that they can play and if you have a need for them at that position, it is good for them and it is good for you. I think that it can really compliment the players that you have on your team.”

On how the team is able to continually come out to great starts:

“At times, we have started really well in games and at other times we have started three-and-out on offense in the Michigan game for example. We then came back and played extremely well. Defensively last year, the first series of the game was usually the worst for us. This year we have gotten off to a pretty good start defensively. I don’t know if there is any rhyme or reason for it. We definitely try to prepare our players for what they’re expected to see. I think that one of the things that contributed to it was that we always saw something different that we hadn’t practiced against. This year we haven’t seen as much of that kind of stuff so I think the players are a little comfortable starting the game relative to what they’ve practiced and that may have something to do with it.”

On if AJ is affected by the attention caused by Heisman trophy talk:

“I think that the most important thing that we try to get our players to understand, AJ included, is that the most important thing is how you play and how you execute. It is one play at a time, every play in the game like it has a history and life of its own. We are all for our guys getting recognition and we are pleased and flattered that some of our players are up for awards and have a chance to be recognized for their hard work and effort. At the same time I think that they all need to understand that you have never really arrived in terms of what has happened in the past. You are only trying to build on it so you can improve in the future. To keep your head in the right place relative to your preparation and what it takes for you to go out and play well. Everyone knows what that recipe is for them. It’s just like when your mother makes a good cake. As long as she uses the same ingredients, I love that carrot cake, but if she changes the ingredients the cake won’t taste the same. It’s the same thing with players. I think that is important regardless of whatever external factors are out there, you need to focus on what you need to do to play well in the game. That is what we have tried to emphasize to all of our players. We don’t want them to get affected by what other people are saying because the most important thing is continuing to play well. Same thing with players that could be high draft picks. At the end of the day, the most important thing is how did I play so what do you need to do in order to do that. ”

On his simple answer to why Alabama is able to keep teams from scoring large amounts of points:

“The simple answer is that we have pretty good players that play well together and execute the scheme. Everyone does their job and that gives us the best opportunity to be successful. I don’t know what else to say besides that. I can’t really speak for everybody else. I don’t get to see a lot of the other games. I don’t really know what is happening. I don’t know what other people’s personnel are. I don’t know what they are trying to do. I really don’t know what they are having to play and defend against, but probably a common denominator in all of that is a lot of mental errors, a lot of missed tackles. Those two things usually lead to a lot of bad stuff happening when you don’t play good defense.”

On if he has seen a steady progress from Mississippi State:

“They always play tough against us. They don’t play okay against us; they play well. We struggled as much against them last year as anyone else that we played against. They have a good defensive team, they have good players, and they have a really good offensive team. They have really good balance and a good quarterback that can throw the ball. They are committed to running it and do a good job of it. Their running back leads the league I think in rushing. They’re a good team, all the way around.”

On LaDarius Perkins:

“They have a big offensive line and a really good scheme that they run the ball with. They have a lot of multiples in terms of how they present it to try to confuse the defensive players. He is very quick and instinctive as a runner and does a really effective job of executing and running the plays that they have. He is tough. He runs behind his pads and is a tough guy to tackle.”

On Tyler Russell:

“Tyler Russell is a big, physical athletic guy who has a really good arm and can throw the ball down the field. This year he is showing a lot of poise and experience in getting the ball out of his hands quickly. They’re a much, much better passing team than a year ago when he just shared time. There is not really anything that he doesn’t do well in my opinion. He is very aware and very instinctive. They have a good scheme in the passing game. They can throw the ball vertically down the field but they have a lot of short screens, bubbles and they’ve got some guys that can catch the ball and run with it on those plays as well which compliments the running game.”

On the transition between offensive coordinators in the last year:

“I think that every week we are trying to put our guys in the best position that we possibly can to create the kind of balance offensively that makes us difficult to defend, and I think that our offensive staff has done a good job of that for the most part. But again, we are going to play some of the more challenging defensive teams that we will have to face down the road here. At this point, we have done a pretty good job offensively, but I think that it is important that everybody stays focused on improving and coming up with the kind of game plans and systems that are going to be effective against very good defensive teams.”

On if his system is more conducive to having freshmen be able to contribute:

“I don’t know that it is systematic. First of all, the guys that have contributed when they are freshmen are the guys that have shown the maturity to be able to develop as players, and stay with it so that they can become complete players at their position rather than getting frustrated easily about not having immediate success. I think that is one key ingredient to each of those guys. Secondly, it speaks that we have been able to recruit guys that can contribute. I also think that it is a little bit easier to contribute at some positions like wide receiver, running back or maybe even cornerback. If you’re an offensive lineman, you need to know who to block on every play, every pass protection and every mistake that you make, someone is going to get blown up. At running back, if you can carry the ball effectively and learn the five or six running plays that you’ve got, you can do that and you can contribute in the game. You can be a very good receiver and be effective at running certain pass routes and be effective at doing that. You don’t have to be complete to contribute at some of those positions, but I think the two guys (T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper) that we have that are contributing offensively the most have become pretty complete players quickly. I think that speaks to their maturity, how they practice, what they do every day.”

On how difficult preparing for the Mississippi State game last year was (after the loss to LSU):

“I don’t even remember what happened last week on Monday. I think that the players responded the right way. Something bad happened and they responded the right way. We played a really good game, they just had a really good team. It was difficult and I think that they probably have a better team this year than they did last year so we expect a difficult game that is going to be 60 minutes and we expect our best football of the year.”


#35 Nico Johnson, linebacker:

On the Tennessee game:

“I think this is the first game that we were able to handle adversity when it came and keep moving forward. I think we needed that as a team. But as far as the complete game, I think we played a good game. Unfortunately it still wasn’t a 60-minute game because the ones came out, but I think we played well on both sides of the ball and special teams and that’s what we needed. We need the confidence going against Mississippi State, LSU and other teams we’re going to play on down the road. We needed that.”

On facing a quarterback that can throw down the field, like Tennessee:

“At first, coming to practice, it was difficult. But going into the game, we like to make the quarterback as uncomfortable as possible. We feel like if we stop the run and make it one-dimensional and force them to pass, everything else will take care of itself because we have so many packages and schemes that will confuse the offense. We want to go into the game and try to make them less comfortable, and I think we did that.” 

On Mississippi State’s quarterback, Tyler Russell:

“So far, he’s really confident. He’s playing with confidence. He’s pretty much their go-to leader, and when he’s rolling they’re rolling. Like I said before, we have to go in and affect him early. He’s doing well this year. I don’t think they get the credit that they deserve—they’re 7-0. This being my fourth year, I have never really known Mississippi State to be 7-0, so that shows a lot of improvement on their end. We’re not taking them lightly. We’re going to come in the game with the same focus, the same intensity, ready to roll.”

On this game being tougher than usual because of Mississippi State’s 7-0 record:

“Putting myself in their shoes, I would have a chip on my shoulder.  I would want to have the best game, the best practice all week that I could have. Like you said, it’s going to be a tough game. They always play tough. I think the game was close last year. We’re going to come in and try to affect everybody early and try to get the upper-hand on them and squash their momentum early. We have to come in with the right mind-set. “

On Mississippi State’s running back:

“Their running game is probably the best in the SEC, I think. Like you said, he’s leading the SEC in rushing, so we’re going to come in and try to make them one-dimensional the best we can. I know team run tomorrow and Wednesday is going to be so intense, as far as coaches and players. We’re going to come in and try to execute well and everybody get their gaps and do what they’re supposed to do and not do too much. I think we’re going to be okay.”


#3 Vinnie Sunseri, defensive back

On the Tennessee game:

“It was a good game. We came out and played with a lot of intensity. We came out and were able to play for four quarters like Coach Saban wanted us to. We were able to play a complete game. Special teams was good, defense was good, and offense was really exceptional.”

On staying focused week after week:

“I don’t think it’s that tough when you have teams coming in like Mississippi State. They’re a great team, and it’s not that hard to focus in when you see that kind of team coming in. They’re undefeated, they’re going to come in and give us everything they’ve got, and that’s what we expect and we’re excited for the opportunity.”

On facing Tyler Russell:

“I’ve watched a couple of their games this year, and he’s a good athlete. He can run, he can move the pocket, he can stretch it downfield with his arm. They’re a great team, great receiver threats, great running back, and we have to be ready to bring everything we’ve got this Saturday.”


#83 Kevin Norwood, WR

On the A.J. McCarron:

“A.J. is a great quarterback. He is a great leader for us; he manages the offense very well. During the summer getting the timing down with A.J. was a major area of focus. This last week was an opportunity for him to spread the field for the receivers.”

On playing Mississippi State:

“It is a lot of focus I have to do (for MSU). I have to do what I have to do in order to help the team out. As a leader, I have to help manage the offense. We know that there is going to be a time where there will be a lot of adversity, and we just have to work through it.”

On coming back to Bryant-Denny Stadium:

“It is great to be back in front of our fans. It has been rough going on the road games and hearing their crowds. We also had a huge following of our own in Missouri and Tennessee. We are ready to get back here.”