Tuesday, November 26, 2002
"Let me start off by taking a moment to give respects. The Crimson Tide lost a member of our football family in ex-great player Cecil Dowdy. Please make mention that his family will be in our prayers and acknowledge the great player and supporter he was of our program because he certainly was.
"Looking at Hawaii, this game is certainly not a day at the beach. They've got a good team. They're ranked in the top 25. Great match up in regard to their offense and our defense. I think they're number three in the nation right now currently offensively and I believe that's about where we are defensively, too.
"We need to realize going over there that it's not an easy place to play. I've been there before. Their crowd gets into the game. They've won nine consecutive I believe it is at home right now. This football team that we're getting ready to play has won 17 of their last 20 games. So they've been on a good streak. June Jones does a great job. I have a lot of respect for June and what he's accomplished over there. Certainly he's a guy that's probably practically on the cutting edge of the run and shoot and everything that they do offensively, and hanging 500 yards up in a game is just another day at the office for them. They've done it six times this year and they can score points very quickly. The time of possession is not very meaningful in looking at them.
"They have an outstanding quarterback. Timmy Chang played against us a couple of years ago so I've seen him as a freshman. I noticed Coach Jones mentioned last week that he thought he could win the Heisman Trophy his senior year. June has been around some great quarterbacks and for him to say that I think is good credence to what kind of player the young man is.
"Hawaii is always a physical, hard-nosed football team. They play defense that way. Kicking game wise they're pretty solid. Chad Owens their returner, I believe he had 11 kickoff and punt returns last week for nearly 200 yards. And I believe he had been out about five or six weeks with an injury. He had a great freshman year. Got off to a start this year then got hurt and came back last week. He is certainly very explosive and somebody that we're going to have to contain well.
"(It's a) Great trip for our team. We're going to play a good team. They have great support over there. It's going to be, number one, important for us to handle the trip well. Fortunately I've done this trip successfully you could say a couple of times, so I have a little bit of idea about what to do and how to handle it. It's going to be important that we get down to business at the right time and focus on the things that we need to get focused on at the right time. I certainly want our seniors to bow out on a positive, to finish the right way. To get the 10th win we would become the 27th team I believe in Alabama football history so that puts them in a pretty elite group, though it is a large one because of our tremendous tradition here. So I would certainly hope to do that. And I think our players are looking forward to this game and the trip and the opportunity to play another game."
Because of their offense---they put a lot of points on the board---does that put extra pressure on your offense to be wide open from the start and be prepared to keep up and match them?
"I think we have to be efficient. We can't change our personality. We have to play our game. Sometimes in some respects if you can hold on the ball you keep their offense off the field but you have to score points. They're potentially very explosive. They average nearly 40 a game, so they are very capable and they can do it very quickly. Sometimes it can be a little disheartening that you go seven or eight minutes and finally get some points and they go about a minute twenty and get exactly what you got because they can do that. They can score very fast and hit two or three passes and do what they need to do. We're probably going to see somewhere between fifty and sixty passes this week. That's the nature of what they do. The thing that makes them a little difficult is I think they've rushed for about 120 a game in spite of still throwing for so many yards, so that makes it a little tougher to defend them."
Fran, obviously they had an incident that's gotten a lot of publicity in their last game with Cincinnati. Cincinnati had some things to say about game management and security, etc. Have you all addressed that at all? Has Mal (Moore) looked at that or have you looked at that and what needs to be done? Any concerns with that for Saturday?
"Our administration has looked at it to make sure that we are prepared for anything but that's not something that's common. I've been there before. Those things can happen in a game certainly, but I've been there and their fans are good fans. They're good football fans. They get into the game. They get excited and enthusiastic and very supportive of their football team when they do well. But I have never seen that side of it, so we don't want to throw one incident into a bigger case than it already is."
Coach, you alluded to this before, but what have you learned from the TCU trip about handling the unique nature of a trip to Hawaii as far as juggling business with pleasure when you're down there?
"It's important to, number one, get over there and have an opportunity to get yourself acclimated to the time change and to get the trip behind you. I think you have to understand, leaving on a Thursday is not normal for us. We normally leave on a Friday, and so Thursday travel wise is pretty relaxed. Friday morning we have always gone to the Pearl Harbor exhibit and that's been a great team-building exercise, a very meaningful part of the trip for our team. And then somewhere around Friday afternoon we start getting focused and ready to play the football game. You have to be able to get your players to understand when you cross the line and start to get ready to take care of business. And fortunately we've been able to build some time in on the backside of the trip for them, so they know once the game is over they'll have plenty of opportunity for some relaxation and everything. I think those things have been key for us in the other trips that we have gone over there. We researched how to do it very well. You're always fortunate you don't have a game the week after. That's very tough, maybe tougher than any part of it. But if you get over there in time and get yourself acclimated to the time change, get your body clock kind of in order, you've got a chance then to get on a normal schedule and play the way you should play."
Having been at a couple of programs yourself that you've turned around and having been in the same league as Hawaii, can you talk about how June Jones - I think they won zero or one game before he got there and had been at that level for a while - what he's done and why it's worked?
"June's an excellent coach. (He's got a) Great understanding of the game. Great teacher. He has an offense that I think fits into Hawaii. And defense. Because of the uniqueness and travel sometimes you need to have a good foundation of both sides of the ball so that you game plan is somewhat in order as you start your week. You adjust just to the team you're going to play. He's done a great job of keeping the best players from Hawaii home to play for him. Timmy Chang is a great example of that. The island has always had some good football players for a long time. Tough, hard-nosed good football players. The key has always been to keep the nucleus of them there for your program and June appears to me that he's done a good job of that. He's just a good, solid football coach."
Coach, what is your assessment of the team's mindset at this stage for the game coming up after the Auburn loss?
"I think they're excited to be able to put that one behind them and go forward and excited that they've got an opportunity for another game. I think they're grateful for the kind of trip that they have, the opportunity to do something kind of special here at the end of the year. And most of all to have one more game before the season's over with."