Oct. 27, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Selected Alabama football players met with the media Monday afternoon to discuss the Homecoming game against Arkansas State on Saturday, Nov. 1, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
FS Rashad Johnson
On the team being mature enough to avoid a letdown this week:
"It's been a totally different team this year, a totally different mindset. I definitely think we have enough leadership and enough guys that are mature enough (to handle it). We are going to come out and work this week like we have every other week."
On avoiding a letdown in November:
"We have a point to prove that we can finish. I think we are doing a good job of it so far this year, but there are still four games left in the season. Last year we dropped all four games. With a mature team and great leadership, I think we are going to go out and have a great end to this season."
On the importance of style points:
"We just go out and try to play our game and come out with a win. If you go through the SEC undefeated and win the SEC Championship, then it will all take care of itself."
On where he would rank Alabama if he had a vote:
"Right now we are a good team, and we can compete with any team in the nation. When we line up, we have a feeling that it's not about what the other team does, but what we do. We try to dominate for 60 minutes, and with that mindset we can be one of the top teams."
On how losing to a non-BCS team last year factors into the preparation this week:
"We know this team has put up some major points. They beat Texas A&M. We know they have skill players and have the ability to come in here and change our season. We are going to stay focused on what we have to do and make sure that doesn't happen."
On the team playing its most complete game against Tennessee:
"Everybody played well and did their job, so it was a good game. We really focused on playing our game the entire game, and not just one half."
On how happy the players were after defeating Tennessee and if it could lead to complacency:
"It was a good happy. We played an entire game, and we are going to come out and do the same things this week that got us through last week."
On if the mental message from the coach has changed during the season:
"It's the same message, just keep playing hard and do what we need to do to win the ball game."
On if there is a sense this season could be something special:
"That's later on down the road. Right now, we are just focused on Arkansas State."
On avoiding a November letdown:
"The leadership has to step up. We have struggled the last few Novembers, and it is due to a lot of different things. We need to make sure it doesn't happen this year. The guys that have been through it in the past need to step up and say `we need to keep doing the things we have been doing to win'."
On the youth of the team this season:
"The younger guys really have an older guy mentality, especially on work ethic. You have players like Julio (Jones) and Mark (Ingram) who really bring a lot to the table in terms of moving the ball and making big plays for us. They are young guys, but you don't really look at them like that. You look at them more in terms of what they can bring to the table."
On the difference between last year's team and this year's team:
"It's a matter of learning a certain way to do things. Our whole team has gotten better in the second year of Coach Saban's program. Any guy is going to get bigger, faster and stronger and that is only going to pay dividends on the field."
On being able to play the same position on the offensive line this season:
"We have really gotten comfortable with each other. I room with Andre on Friday nights. We were talking about being comfortable where we are at and playing together. We have a good feel for if I am double teaming, who is going to come off or who is going to take this guy in pass protection. It has really helped pave the way for a lot of things on offense."
On playing a complete game against Tennessee and turning a corner this season:
"I don't know really. I knew we had the ability to finish a game, and I think we did an alright job. I knew that Tennessee was a good team and how big the game was. I think we took the pressure of it being a big game and ran with it. We really used it to our advantage."
On if the team worries about winning big to keep pace with the other top teams:
"We aren't worried about Penn State, Texas or anybody else. We are just worried about the next game and Coach Saban does a good job of keeping us focused. We are just going to keep playing our game, day in and day out."
On possibly winning the SEC Championship and playing in the National Championship game:
"We aren't trying to look into the future. If we make it there, we make it there. We are just going to keep playing hard right now."
On how hard it is to stay fresh and finish the season as strong as the team that started the season:
"The style of play we play with is very physical. A lot of guys are beat up, but as a team we pull together. We don't let a guy slack behind. We pick him up and keep going. We are going to keep on pushing. We have great leadership, which is something we had last year, but this year it's better. We are just going to try to keep everybody together and stay focused."
On the motivation a potential undefeated season provides:
"We are sitting here at 8-0, four games left. It makes you want to keep pushing. We are going to keep on pushing, but we aren't going to look into the future at all and just try to take it day by day."
On how much of Arkansas State he has seen:
"About five minutes, just a brief bit of them. They are a maverick group. They do a lot of things on offense and defense, so we are going to have to do an especially good job of everybody communicating and being on the same page. There is no real rhyme or reason for what they do sometimes. They corner blitz; they play two deep; they play cover zero and bring everybody. They do a wide array of stuff, so everybody is going to have to be on the same page and make sure they are communicating."
On what Mike Johnson has brought to the offensive line this season:
"Mike has probably been the most valuable offensive lineman we have had this year. He has probably been the most consistent as well. I don't recall him having a bad game this season, and he has stepped up in every game. He has shown leadership out on the field. He is a tough guy. He's physical. Everything you want in an offensive lineman is what Mike Johnson is. The whole line has come together because of that, and we have been playing really well."
On having a solid game against Tennessee:
"I feel like I did. I feel like we all did, especially late in the game. We settled down a little bit after the first couple of drives. We knew Tennessee was going to do some things. They like to cover up everybody up front and pretty much go five down and make you block one on one. After we settled down and started coming off the ball like we had been doing, I think we started to open up some lanes and it helped out."
John Parker Wilson
On the pressure to win by a large margin each game:
"I haven't thought about it. I don't know if any of the other guys have. We have to go out and win the games we have left on our schedule. That is something we can control. If we go out and win the rest of our games, everything will play out like it needs to be. Somebody is going to get left out, hopefully it's not us."
On how challenging it is to stay focused:
"We haven't beaten Mississippi State, Auburn, or LSU since I have been playing. Replace Arkansas State with ULM (Louisiana-Monroe) and this is the same schedule as last year, and we didn't win any of those games. We have to come out like it is the start of the season and we have something to prove."
On what is different this season to help avoid another November let down:
"Everything is different about this season. The way we are playing, the way the team is, the people we have on the field, and the chemistry. Everything is different. We are just going to do what we have been doing. It seems to be working so far, so if we just keep doing that, we will win the games."
On Arkansas State:
"We have to be ready for everything that they can do. They beat Texas A&M this year and last year they almost beat Texas, so that says a lot to me about their program."
On his enjoyment of the corner blitz:
"You are free. You get to show off some athletic ability. You get to come in, the quarterback tries to scramble, or whatever, and you get to break down and roll your hips. It's very exciting."