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Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript



Nov. 2, 2009

Opening Comments:
“I was really pleased with the progress and effort that we had last week during the bye week.  I think we made some improvement as a team.  We had good focus on what we were doing.  We did have the opportunity to work on some of the future opponents that we have, and some of the issues they might bring. We were able to work to some degree, at some time, against a little bit of what LSU does.  I think the most important thing is we wanted to improve in areas we felt like we needed to make progress in, and I felt really good about what we were able to accomplish.

“I’m not going to insult anybody here, in terms of talking about this game, but like every other game that we play this year, this is the most important game we’ve played all year long, because it is the game that we play this week.  It’s our goal to put our team in a good position to be able to play the best football that they can play.  I think it’s important that you focus on playing good ball.  Joe Girardi (New York Yankees manager) said ‘to close out the series, I want to play good baseball.’  What gives you the best chance to close out the series?  Play the best baseball you can play and keep playing the best you can play. Put your players in position to do it, be aggressive, be positive, play with good effort and toughness and do a great job of executing.  That’s got to be the focus of what we need to do, not focus on the result, but focus on the process of things that you need to do to play the best football you can, individually and collectively, and that’s what we all need to do.

“The game is about the players. There are a lot of good players. These are two very good teams that have good players on both sides and there is a lot to talk about in terms of what’s going to happen on the field. Les Miles has done a fantastic job in the five years he has been as LSU. They always play with toughness. They play with great effort.  They are well-coached on both sides of the ball as well as special teams.  Offensively, they’ve done a really good job. The quarterback has done a good job for them. (Charles) Scott’s a good runner.  They’ve got lots of skill players, two really, really good wide receivers.  The offensive line has three starters back. They’ve got lots of good players.  Defensively, they are third or fourth in the league and one of the top 15, top 10 in the country in lots of categories. They’ve got lots of good players and great skill players in the return game.  This is an outstanding football team.  We have a lot of good leadership on our team. We have lots of good players on our team.  Our focus needs to be on us playing our best football of the year, and that’s certainly what we’re going to try and coach to get our players to do.”

On the status of tight end Colin Peek:
“Colin ran in the pool yesterday and he is going to run today, so it will be day-to-day to see how he can do.  Hopefully, he will be able to so some functional things on Tuesday and if everything goes well, we’re hopeful he will be able to play in the game and contribute in the game. There are two other guys that have been bothered for quite some time with muscle pulls, Terry Grant and Dre Kirkpatrick, and they are kind of day-to-day as well. We tried to rest them some last week, this has been an ongoing thing with both guys and we are going to try to continue to see how they respond with the pulls that they have.”

On how much the off-week helped the team:
“I think that when you play eight games in a row, everybody is a little tired emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s been my experience when you play more than six games in a row, without getting some rest, it gets to be a little strain on the players to continue make progress. So I think that the bye week did everybody a lot of good, in terms of getting some rest, physically, mentally and emotionally in every way, in terms of finishing the season.”

On pass protection from offensive line and the challenge the LSU defense presents:
“I think that our passing game needs to improve.  I think that it starts with the protection.  I think that in the last few weeks we’ve gotten a little more pressure than what we got earlier in the season. LSU obviously has some very good pass rushers.  Number 84 (Rahim Alem) being one that is a pretty significant guy on the edge.  I think that if we are going to improve in the passing game that every part of that needs to improve.  Everything needs to improve and it certainly starts up front because that’s what I think can affect the quarterback the most, in terms of him feeling like he has the time to make good choices and decisions in the passing game and getting the ball to the right place.”

On if your message to the players changes the last four games of the season:
“No.  I think we focus on the same things all the time, in terms of what it takes to play winning football.  That’s what you want the players to focus on.  I know it’s a result world, but great competitors don’t focus on the results they focus on what they need to do to get the results.  Sometimes that’s difficult to do with a lot of the external things that we live with, but that’s the most important thing to playing you’re best.  Maybe we were affected by that a little bit in the last couple of games. I takes away you’re aggressiveness. I’ve said it before, you want to be aggressive and have high-achievement motivation in what you’re doing, not lots of anxiety.  Low anxiety, high-achievement motivation is the best way to get results.  That’s what we’re always trying to promote and the best way to do that is to focus on the things you need to do to have success.”

On how you spent your bye week:
“Well, I got away, but I also took my computer and had lots of tape to watch. That’s what I did for most of the time.  It rained for two days, so it was a good time. I really watched some football games and some baseball games on Saturday and really sort of enjoyed seeing what everybody in the world goes through on Saturday, rather than what I go through, which is to watch a whole bunch of games, flip back and forth on the channels, have three or four games going at the same time, and a baseball game, and my wife yelling at me the whole time because we’re not watching what she wants to watch.  So, I understand.  That’s the first time that’s happened all year or for many years that I can remember.”

On why your team has not gotten the ball downfield more in the passing game:
“Well, I think first of all to get it down the field you’ve got to throw it down the field and we probably haven’t done that as frequently as we need too.  I think we have to be more aggressive in that part of what we’re doing.  I think we have the plays to do it.  I think we have to have confidence in the players to be able to go execute those plays and give them an opportunity to make plays. I think that’s one of the things when I say be aggressive, that’s one of things that we certainly want to be able to do.”

On wildcat offense as compliment to your offensive package:
“I think it needs to be a compliment to what you do, and I think one of the reasons we’ve done it more is we’ve had a reasonable amount of success doing it.  I think every team will probably play it a little bit different and you never know for sure how they are going to play it until you get in the game. I think that has something to do with how much you use it too.”

On what John Chavis has brought to LSU defense:
“They do what he does, and he is a very good coach. He was a great coach at Tennessee for a long time, and one of the best defensive coordinators in the SEC, in terms of full body of work over a period of time.  Certainly, they are very well coached on defense. They have made a tremendous amount of improvement, in terms of almost every statistical category that they have, and I think it’s due to the scheme that they play, the soundness, they are very well coached and the job he has done there. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and what he is able to do.  I think the improvement is probably the most telling tale of what I am trying to say.”

On Mark Ingram’s growth as a runner:
“Well, I think there are a couple things. I think Mark’s very confident.  He got to play a lot last year as a freshman and gained a lot of knowledge and experience by doing that and had a reasonable amount of success. This year he has just grown more confident.  I think Mark’s sort of a unique style of running back. He’s a guy that has speed, has a make you miss ability to avoid tacklers, but has the strength and power and is difficult to tackle as well. He has a tremendous competitive spirit about him, and is a true warrior in terms of the way he competes and the way he plays.  So, I think all of those things contribute to his style, and to his success. We’re extremely pleased for the success that he’s having. He would be the first guy to talk about his teammates, and how they contribute to that and also to some of the attention that he has created because of that.”

On the work you did with pass rush during the bye week:
“We continue to work guys in different positions.  I think we got to work with a lot of the young players a little more than we normally do in the bye week.  Courtney (Upshaw) is doing a better job. Chavis (Williams) did a good job when he was in there.  Jerrell Harris, it was a good week for him just to go back and work on fundamentals and assignments and things that can help him improve as a player with all the time that he missed.   I think all those players are better for it. I don’t think we’re ready to announce any changes in any of those things, but I think all those players will have a chance to make a contribution in some way.”

Alabama Player Quotes

Junior linebacker Rolando McClain
On second half of Tennessee game:
“We were just playing a good team. They came out and played their best football. They had two weeks to prepare for us and obviously it showed. They are a very good team and they played good football.”

On becoming the best football player he can become:
“I think every football player expects that, to be the best they can be. I always want to be the best at what I do, so that’s how I play and how I practice. I don’t really know how good I can be. I guess that’s up to me. I’m going to continue to work. I’m just trying to be as good as I can be, so I can help this team.”

On stopping the LSU rushing attack:
“Stopping the run is always good and that’s what we pride ourselves on doing. This week is obviously a tough game for us. They have good running backs and a strong offensive line. Their quarterback is very good, he’s a dual threat. We just have to do whatever we can do to affect them.”

Junior quarterback Greg McElroy
On importance of last week:
“It was very productive. I think we have areas that we want to focus on, and areas that we want to improve. We had a good game against Tennessee. Statistics speak for them self but as far as execution in the passing game, we really did a good job. We took what the defense gave us. They are a bend not break team and I was really pleased with my performance. You only throw for however many yards but it doesn’t matter because we moved the ball and didn’t turn it over. It was a positive from the week before, but obviously we have some areas we want to focus on this past week. We think we did a good job addressing those areas. I feel strong about the improvements we made.”

On importance of LSU game:
“It’s really big because it’s the upcoming game. If we were playing the smallest school in the country it would still be a big game because it’s next. That’s just the way this team operates. In the SEC it doesn’t matter if you play the best team or the worst team you have to play your best every week because if you don’t you are vulnerable.”

Senior cornerback/return specialist Javier Arenas
On importance of bye week:
“From a physical aspect it gives you a time to get refreshed and get your legs back. From a mental aspect, you feel like you haven’t played ball in awhile and you want to get back to it. You want to get back to your routine. It’s a positive.”

On LSU’s spread offense:
“It’s been the same thing for us for the past three years. We have seen the same things. It’s effective. It’s working for them. We just have to implement the right things to try to stop all the things that they do. They are more balanced than other people.”