Tuesday, November 12, 2002
"Well, LSU is certainly deserving of their national ranking. They are a good, solid football team. They are very good on defense. They have good athletes. They have good schemes, well-coached, confident, great size and strength and great speed. There is a reason they are No. 1 in the nation in (total) defense. You don't have to look at film very long to see that it has all those ingredients.
"Offensively, they have not got the yards quite the same as they had last year, but they are still a very solid offensive football team. The offense line is good. They have good athletes and are physical. They have not given up many sacks (8 - lowest total in SEC). This will be a good test for our defensive line (UA leads SEC with 34 sacks). They have good receivers and good skill people across the board. Their quarterback (Marcus Randall) is getting better and better every week. They are solid in the kicking game.
"We have played well on the road (4-1 this year, 4-game SEC road winning streak) this year to this point and time and we need to do that again this week. This is a good football team that we are going to play and we are certainly going to have to be on our "A" game when we go down there. We are probably going to need our "A" game the rest of the year, I would say."
Have you ever been involved with a play like they had against Kentucky? How rare is that and what does it do for a team?
"It seems like in my 30 years (of coaching), I've been involved in one of those or one kind of similar. It's kind of a boost. Sometimes in order to have a great season, you need to win a game in an odd way. That certainly was an unusual ending. I think for them trying to repeat (as SEC Champions), that might be a little impetus for them, a little motivation and some positive vibes going down the stretch.
"Just listening to (Coach Saban's) comments, I am sure he thinks they should have dominated a little sooner and that might be a little wake-up call for them. I should not speak for Coach (Saban), but it can serve those kinds of purposes."
Can you talk about playing in Baton Rouge at night with their atmosphere?
"I suppose the tailgate parties start about breakfast and by 8 o'clock it will be a lively atmosphere. I have been there for a night game before when I was as Kansas State (as an assistant coach under Jim Dickey, Sr. when LSU beat K-State 21-0 on Sept. 13, 1980), and I remember it being a great atmosphere for college football and a pretty exciting evening. I'm looking forward to it, really. I love to experience all the traditions and uniqueness of college football. We have been to Tennessee at night, Arkansas at night, so we may as well go to LSU at night, too."
Do you think about "what if" and the ramifications that this game would have if Alabama was not in its situation?
"Not really. I just think about what if this goes this way or that goes that way on Saturday night at 8 o'clock. That's the only thing I really have any focus on or any control of for the most part and that's really where I spend all my time. I really only have three things on my mind -- how to deal with their offense, how to deal with their defense and how to deal with their kicking game. I just kind of leave it at that."
Talk about the job the defensive staff has done in trying to develop some depth and how that has worked out?
"Our defensive coaches have done a great job in just about every area this year. They have made marked improvement and the coaches have made a commitment to play just about two-deep all year long and they have had a good rotation.
"I think its a reflection on our player's performance, that our coaches have confidence in them to have them out there at critical times. You watch the game (Miss. State) the other night, Anthony Madison is out there with some very difficult situations in the red zone. A lot of our guys have stepped up and performed and accepted their roles and done what is required and taken great pride in that. Our coaches have done a great job of getting them all prepared to play each week."
Coach, it really has worked out that you guys can play the role of spoiler and be the best team in the (SEC) West if you win the remaining SEC games. Do you stress that more as the season goes along and is that something you think the players are excited about?
"I think the players are excited about it. I believe they are excited about being ranked in the Top 10 in the nation, the wins, the success they have enjoyed together. The way they have played and the difficult places they have gone and played and had success. The way we've gone through this stretch. I think all those things are ingredients that they've felt pretty good about and are very proud of. They are looking forward to these last three games and I think they still have an opportunity to feel like they are the best team in the (SEC) West. We have certainly gotten to a point where its two games to go and it's at a point where we can realistically talk about it a little bit."