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Alabama Football Press Conference Transcript (Western Carolina)



Nov. 12, 2012

Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening Statement:

“No matter how you cut the mustard, whether we won both of the last two games or lost both of the last two games, I don’t think we’ve executed as well as a football team. Whether we don’t focus as well, plan as well, practice as well, rest as well or get emotionally ready as well, for whatever reasons, the focus has to be on not what has been lost but what can be gained from the lessons learned from those circumstance and situations. We need to look forward in a positive way to what we want this football team to be remembered as and accomplish. There are a lot of things moving forward that we can accomplish. I know the questions are; ‘why didn’t you do this, why didn’t you do that, why do we call this play, why do we call that play’. It still goes back to why are we even in that situation relative to how we played the rest of the game. Why are we in the situation that we don’t really respond as a team emotionally with any kind of aggressiveness or energy level until we get behind 20-0? All those are questions that I am certainly responsible for. I’m not trying to say that. For whatever reasons, we have an opportunity now to prove that we are and can be a good football team. That’s what we want to focus on. That’s all we want to talk about. We are looking forward. The only thing that we can gain from the past is lessons learned, for all of us, in terms of what we can do better, what we need to do better and what everybody has to make a commitment to in terms of trying to do better and accomplish something significant with what is left of this season with this team. We had Amari Cooper and Eddie Lacy as offensive players (of the week), John Fulton and C.J. Mosley as defensive players (of the week) and Cody Mandell on special teams. The only real injury that we have is John Fulton has a turf toe, a pretty good one. He actually finished the game with it and it really swelled up a bit. He may be very questionable for this particular game. I don’t think we need to be worrying about who we are playing this week as much as we need to worry about how we are playing. That’s the focus. We have a lot of respect for every team we play and certainly Western Carolina has done a lot of good things this season. They’ve scored a lot of points. I think the focus for us needs to be on what we are doing and how we are playing. That’s the approach I’d like to take with our coaches, our players and everybody in the organization.”

On Chris Black’s status:

“He’s cleared for activity but he’s not cleared for contact. He really is not cleared to play yet. He’s just out there doing drills. Maybe in another month or so he will get cleared for contact and we can make some decision. I think it would be kind of foolish to play him. It probably would be a bowl game only type of thing. We will make that decision when the time comes. It’s a medical decision right now.”

On T.J. Yeldon’s confidence after his fumbles:

“I think it comes down to the same thing – carrying the ball correctly. It one case he didn’t get the hand-off correctly and in the other case he was carrying the ball kind of low in his belly and got popped. I think the confidence should come in doing it correctly. We have every faith, trust and confidence in him that when he does it correctly, he’s not going to fumble.”

On why he thinks the team plays better on the road than at home:

“I really don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know if it’s the challenge or the focus. The players can be a little more serious because they are a little bit more confined. I really don’t know. The last two games we’ve played one at home and one on the road. I put both of those in the same category. We didn’t play as well as a team. You all don’t think so because we won one and we lost the other one. If we had won this one, you wouldn’t be concerned either. I was concerned then. You all live in the results world out there and we kind of live in the process world. It’s hard to get people to respond. It’s kind of the bluegrass miracle phenomenon (2002 LSU/Kentucky game). You play bad, you win the game. The next week you get your (butt) kicked because no one responded to playing bad ecause you won on the bluegrass miracle.”

On what the senior class has meant to the program from a leadership perspective:

“This has been a really good group of guys. Not a big group. It would be a lot bigger if everybody would have stayed in school and we didn’t lose some guys to the draft and different things. Some guys have been redshirted. A lot of things affect class size. This group has been a very good group. They have been a very productive group. They have certainly been a bunch of guys that have bought into the program and done everything you could ask them for, personally, academically and athletically. We are really proud of not only the way this group has performed on the field but how they have represented the institution and the program as well.”

On if there has been a tackling issue in the last two games:

“You wouldn’t be asking the question if it wasn’t a concern. We had more missed tackles. We had more yards after catch, after first contact or first missed tackle – especially on space plays. That’s one thing we’ve always been – a good tackling team and a good tackling secondary. That is something that we need to improve on.”

On if quarterback AJ McCarron has hit a plateau the past few weeks:

“I just think that as a quarterback, you are always going to get a little bit more credit than you deserve when things go well and maybe get a little bit more of the blame when things don’t go well. I do think that the kind of competitor AJ is, my expectation is that he would take the bull by the horns, learn from the lessons that he has learned over the last two games and try to work on improving and I don’t think there’s any reason to say that he’s reached a plateau. I think he needs to break through and continue to improve and not be satisfied where he is – get the players around him to help him do that. So that would be my approach with him, relative to what he needs to do to actually better, take the bull by the horns, and say ‘what does this team, what does this offense want to be remembered for in terms of how we play?’”

On defensive back John Fulton’s injury and how that affects the secondary’s configuration this weekend:

“What we did in the last game was, you know, Vinnie [Sunseri] usually plays the fifth [defensive] back, and Nick Perry had a bad shoulder, so Vinnie also can play the sixth defensive back. With the no-huddle situation as it was in the game, we played Dee Milliner at star, John at corner in his place, and Vinnie was always the sixth DB, which was in there about 70% of the time. We didn’t feel like we could play nickel one way and dime another. That’s how John ended up playing and John played well when he has had the opportunity to play. We thought he deserved a chance to play. Because of some injuries to other guys, we made some of those changes and John did a good job, he’s player of the week.”

On defensive line rotation:

“We played a little different in the last game. We tried to get four guys in the last game that were athletic enough to be defensive tackles. We actually took [Adrian] Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson and Denzel [Devall], we played Ed [Stinson] inside, and we tried to get where we had four defensive ends and four inside guys that were the most athletic guys that could do their job because of the quarterback. In terms of being able to have a chance to get him on the ground or be able to pass rush a little more athletically or have a little more balanced pass rush. That was a little different in that particular game and I don’t think it’s something that we will do all the time. It’s just that circumstance and that’s the way we practiced all week. Jesse [Williams] was able to play inside because he is pretty athletic and runs pretty well. Some of the other big guys that we have, [Jeoffrey] Pagan was the other guy that played outside, we didn’t see an opportunity to play those guys much unless they were in four of five wideouts.”

On what he could have done better in preparation for the Texas A&M game:

“I think there are a lot of things, I think there are a lot of things that we all can do. I think that we internally try to do those things. I think every player has things that he would have liked to do better. Obviously when we don’t play well, that means did you plan well enough, did you practice well enough, did you practice the things you ended up playing? Were the players prepared? Were they emotionally ready to play the game? All those types of things get analyzed – not only from a big picture stand point, but also from a group standpoint and individually. With every player in the organization and every coach, when you don’t play well obviously you need to do all those things a little bit better at every level – from me right down to the players. That’s what we try to analyze and that’s what we try to do. Take an example of tackling. We really tried to emphasize tackling last week and we still had more missed tackles than we would like. There are physical things and there are emotional things. You can make excuses and say, ‘well the team was emotionally tired so they weren’t quite focusing like they needed to do.’ They played a heck of a lot better when they got down 20-0. Everybody all of the sudden got emotionally better. So why couldn’t it have been better at the start? That’s the questions I ask myself.”

On if it’s easier or more difficult moving on after a loss rather than a win:

“I don’t know that it’s easier or more difficult. If you are a competitor nobody likes to lose. That’s always difficult. My job is more of a concern on not how I feel, but how do we get the people in the organization to respond the right way and not make me feel better by getting on everybody else, but by trying to get everybody else to do better so that we can learn from the lessons and grow from the lessons, not focused on the past but how this is going to benefit us in the future. How can we gain something from our loss? That’s how I try to focus on it, that’s the challenge that I have – not to say how disappointed are you, how bad do you feel? I catch it from everybody – my wife’s mad, my kids are upset that we lost. I have to be like ‘I am too,’ but how am I going to affect everybody around me so that we respond the right way to the circumstance that we are in. Again it’s keeping the focus on the vision of what you want to accomplish – not the circumstance. Last week, too many people, too many circumstances, maybe too many interviews, maybe too much ‘why am I not playing more?’ Could be a lot of things, but that is not the vision of the team. When you have that, you heard Chuck Pagano [Colts head coach battling leukemia] talk about circumstances and vision – that’s what I am talking about. He has a circumstance too. They have one as a team, he has one personally. His vision is to see his daughters grow up and dance at their wedding. So that’s the difference, that’s what I am trying to do – keep everyone focused on the vision.”

On the lack of effective pass rush:

“I don’t necessarily think that’s accurate. I don’t think that we have a dominant rusher like we had a year ago. I think we have guys that as a unit and as a group can be effective. I think it’s a combination of not rushing on a consistent basis and not covering on a consistent basis that has been one of the problems that we have had. The last two weeks again, lots of issues of not being able to get off the field on third down. That hasn’t been a real factor all year long, but in the last two weeks I mean, we gave up 14 points in the second half at LSU going 0-7 on third downs during that time, and we started this game 0-7 on third downs and got behind because of it. When you create those situations you have to get off the field. It’s not just the pass rush, it contributes to it to some degree sometimes. It’s also the discipline of everybody doing what they are supposed to do in rush as well as coverage. When we pressure, people have to do what they are supposed to do. To me I would say it’s more of a team thing than it is any specific group problem.”

Player Quotes

#42 Eddie Lacy, RB

On Alabama’s third quarter performances:
“We just have to continue to improve and push ourselves as a team, especially in the third quarter.  If we work ourselves harder in practice we’ll be able to play the way we need to, especially in the third quarter, and I’m pretty sure that this week we’ll put a big emphasis on that.”

On how T.J. Yeldon can keep his confidence up for the next games:
“He just needs to remember that this is football.  Bad plays are going to happen, and so are good plays.  He just has to block the bad ones from his mind, keep playing, and not let it affect him. It’s always tough to get over a fumble, but that’s why you have your teammates.  They’re here to support you and make you feel better about it.”

On how physical last Saturday was in comparison to previous games:
“It was just a typical Saturday.  You’re going to get hit in any game, I just tried to roll with the hits and give it as good as I got it.”

On how much the team needs a lighter practice after these past games:
“Any break you can get in this division is always good, but we’re going to use this practice to make corrections from last weekend and prepare for this upcoming week.”

#90 Quinton Dial, DL

On thoughts about the Texas A&M Game

“We didn’t execute, and we just didn’t come ready to play.  They made big plays when we didn’t execute and do the little things right, and they capitalized on it.”

On Texas A&M offense

“They just did what they do well, and we had a game plan for it, we just didn’t go out and execute it.”

On how the season may play out

“If it is meant to be, it is meant to be.  We just have to take care of business and put ourselves in a situation to go do that.”

#71 Cyrus Kouandjio, OL

On the first loss this season

“We had a bad game and we had a couple mistakes, but all we are worried about right now is getting better together as a team.  Just working real hard to play Bama football and whatever happens, happens after that.  Wherever the chips fall is not really in our control or anything, so we are just going to play Bama football and see where it takes us.” 

On preparing for Western Carolina

“I still have a bad taste in my mouth from what happened this past weekend.  I’m just ready to go out there and just do something.”

On a balanced offense

“I just do whatever they tell me to do.  Of course, for offensive linemen, it’s a lot more fun to run the ball because you get more physical and you have a little bit more fun.  Whatever it takes to win, that is what I want.”

On what it’s like having his brother on the team

“It’s good.  It’s great to have a brother on the team to go through the same things that you go through.  I’m just glad he is going to be here next year with me.”