Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Nov. 17, 2008

Opening Comments:
“Just to clean up the last game, I thought our players did a really good job of competing their way through the game and pushing through the game. The fans and atmosphere were great and I think in helping them to do that. I really appreciate the fans responding the way they did and they had a significant impact on our team’s emotional ability to compete in the game like they did.  We obviously played and executed a little better in the second half than we did in the first. I thought we were ready to play in the game and had good energy.  We just made some mental errors, in terms of fundamental execution that allowed them to make a few plays in the first half, as well as stop some drives for us offensively in the first half. I think in the second half we did a much better job.  Our special teams were outstanding in the game. We downed two balls at the 2-yard line. We had three minus-20 (yard line) kickoff return drive starts.  We had 167 yards in punt returns and a blocked punt and we had a 43-yard net punt (average) for us. The specialists did a good job. Leigh was pretty good all day, in terms of kicking off, as well as being perfect on field goals.  A lot of guys did a really good job.

“Our players of the week were Drew Davis and Travis McCall on offense and Rolando McClain and Brandon Fanney on defense. Javy (Javier Arenas), obviously with the day he had, in terms of setting records for punt returns and yards in a game on special teams, along with Rashad Johnson, P.J. (Fitzgerald) and Leigh (Tiffin) for their job. We also awarded the punt return team, who really contributed to 16 points in the game with a safety, a touchdown and setting up a score on the 3-yard line.  Javy is SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, too, which is well deserved.  He did a really good job.

“Injury-wise, we have a lot of bumps and bruises. This is a good time to give the players a couple of days off to kind of heal and rest up.  Will Oakley had a non-football related, non-athletic related injury.  He fell down two stairs and hurt his collarbone.  He is probably going to be out for maybe the rest of the season. He may need surgery. I don’t know when it’s going to be, or if it will be for sure, but that’s kind of where it is right now. Rolando McClain got a thumb laceration in the game that was stitched up and halftime and all we did was take him and re-open that and make sure there was no infection or any other damage and sewed it back up and he is fine.  There are no issues or problems, relative to that.  He will be able to practice and he will probably have something on that a week or so while the stitches heal up, but he actually played in the second half with the injury. Earl (Alexander) and Roy (Upchurch) will practice this week and will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis to see how they respond.  We are certainly hopeful that both of those guys can come back and contribute to us.

“Our focus for this week is, and you tell the players if you want to be the best of the best, then you have to get the best from yourselves.  That’s the focus we want to have with our players, in terms of each guy working to improve this week and doing things that we need to do as a team collectively, by getting a little better fundamental execution and discipline in what we do, so that we develop team confidence and what we are trying to do. It’s also a time that academics are important. It’s getting toward the end of the semester, there are only so many days left.  The guys have a little bit of time to get caught up, rested up and healed up, but from a football standpoint we want to improve on the fundamental execution and discipline of what we’re doing as much as we can. We usually also take bye weeks and look at things that teams we will play do that we have not seen and it’s not particular to any particular opponent, but its something to expose our players to if it’s something down that road that we are going to see that we haven’t played against so far this year. So that’s basically what we will do this week. We’re not really starting to practice for our next opponent.  We do that in a routine, but if that opponent does some things that we have not seen, we’ll certainly work on it a little bit in practice this week.”

On the toughness of linebacker Rolando McClain:
“Well, you know, Ro (Rolando McClain) has a lot of mental toughness and physical toughness and he plays that way.  He has shown the ability as a competitor to play through injuries.  I think he did in the bowl game last year, too.  I don’t know if he dislocated his thumb or hurt his shoulder, but he went out for a play and then came back in. He just keeps playing.  Some players can do that and some players can’t. It’s a matter of being able to focus and not be distracted by the injury or the pain or whatever you want to call it. Some guys are really tough and have a lot of mental toughness and play with a lot of physical toughness, but boy as soon as they get hurt, then as soon as something is hurting that is all they can think about and focus on and it really affects their performance.  Ro has a pretty special emotional maturity about that part of what he does that he can come back and play and he has done it on several occasions and he did it again in this game.”

On advance scouting and has someone developed a game-plan for Florida:
“I don’t think we do game plans that far in advance.  We gather information so that we can make evaluations. We can’t practice against something that’s different if we haven’t never seen it or looked at it, or we haven’t advanced it.  If we have an opponent coming up that we didn’t plan to play on our regular schedule then we have to do the due diligence to expose our players to what they need to see in a time like this, if it’s different from what they’ve played, and if it’s not different we don’t mess with it.  We knew we would not address it until now, so the due date was today.  In watching the Winds of War, every now and then, Y-Day was a certain date. That’s when it was for a couple of months so they prepared to go into Poland.”

On similarities between Auburn and Mississippi State:
“I think they are pretty unique in their style and I think they have kind of evolved and developed through the course of the year.  I think (Auburn quarterback) Kodi Burns has improved dramatically as the year as gone on and is playing pretty well for them right now. He is doing some good things for them. I don’t see the similarities in what they do, relative to what we just played against.”

On changes in Auburn from first of year to now:
“I haven’t had a chance to go over the whole season yet.  We are just now getting into that.  We watched them preseason and it’s changed a little, so now we are watching it now.”

On status of Terry Grant:
“He got a thigh bruise on special teams and actually played on special teams.  We did not put him in the game as a runner because of that.”