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Alabama Player Quotes (SEC Championship Game)



Dec. 1, 2008

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team held its 2008 SEC Championship Game Media Day on Monday afternoon.  Here are some comments from the Tide players as they prepare for the Saturday’s game with the Florida Gators.

Junior left tackle Andre Smith:
On getting to play in the SEC Championship game:
“It’s a big accomplishment for us this season. It feels really good. It’s giving us an opportunity to represent the (SEC) West in the championship.”

On being recruited alongside Tim Tebow:
“We had a great relationship throughout the recruiting process. He’s a great guy and has a great family. We could probably switch families and it would be fine. I don’t blame him for picking Florida. He is right up the road from there. Coach Meyer is a great guy. The staff is great and they have a great program. He just chose what was best for him.”

On Florida’s defense:
“They are fast. They are also pretty physical, and they are strong and explosive. They have a great defensive line and great linebackers. They have a great secondary. Overall they are just a great defense.”

On Alabama’s offensive line being efficient:
“I think it’s the leadership of Antione Caldwell and myself as far as making sure we do everything the correct way. Coach Saban demands the best out of us at all times.”

Junior cornerback and return specialist Javier Arenas:
On playing against a fast team like Florida:
“It’s about playing with confidence. When you are confident you play fast. Looking back on my freshman year, I was always fast, but I didn’t look fast on the field. The next year, my sophomore year, I gained a lot of confidence. It wasn’t the fact that I went out and trained to get faster. It was because I was just way more confident, so I was faster and could compete with faster guys.”

On Florida’s offense:
“They are just explosive. That’s why they are so good. They have playmakers and great coaches. All around, they are the ideal team. They are the type of team that you would want to have. There’s not too much to say about them. You guys see it, and we see it. We just need to go out there and play our best ball.”

Sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain:
On Florida’s offense:
“They are a good offense. They have speed and a great quarterback. They have a lot of skill guys. They are just a good team, and we will have to be prepared for them.”

On Tim Tebow:
“He’s a unique quarterback. He can throw and run. He has power and speed. He’s good with decision making. He doesn’t make a lot of turnovers. He’s unique in his own way, but we are going to do our part to try to slow him down some.”

On Alabama starting to look different after the bowl game last year:
“Everybody just bought into the program. (Coach Saban) came and was new here. We were just getting a feel for it. We just bought into everything after that. We just wanted to win. We bought into it.”

Junior running back Glen Coffee:
On importance of Alabama’s running game to keep Florida’s offense off the field:
“It’s definitely important. We want to have the ball in our hands and keep it away from their offense. We want to wear down their defense.”

On challenge of attacking Florida’s defense:
“You just have to run straight at them. You have to get north and south with the ball quick. We aren’t going to change anything that we’ve been doing all year. We are going to keep the same game plan.”

On Coach Saban calling Alabama’s offense “blue collar”:
“It is nice to hear. It lets you know that you are doing what is asked from the coaches. As an offensive unit, that’s the way you are supposed to go at it. We aren’t doing anything intricate or trying to trick anybody, we just run straight at them.”

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson:
On Florida’s defense:
“They are fast. They are a really athletic bunch. I think they try to do a lot of different things to confuse the quarterback.”

On how much more fun it is this year than last year at this time:
“It’s a lot more fun. We’ve had fun this season winning games. We have been taking that approach each week to just go have fun and not worry about anything else. It’s a lot better when you are winning.”

On his legacy at Alabama:
“So far this season, it’s been what I want it to be. We haven’t dropped a game yet. So now it’s just going out there and finishing it. We’ve had a good season so far, we just want to finish what we started.”

Senior safety Rashad Johnson:
On Florida:
“They have all the right ingredients on offense. They have a leader at quarterback who can lead the offense. Then, they have skill players who can make the big plays. As a defense, they are playing good this season. It’s just going to be a good challenge for us in all three phases of the game.

On Tim Tebow:
“He’s just a competitor. He’s never going to get down. You might come in and make a big play, sack him or get an interception, but when he comes back you are still going to get his best every time. That’s what you have to respect about a guy like that. He is going to keep fighting and make the best out of every opportunity he has.”

Senior center Antoine Caldwell:
On playing in SEC Championship Game:
“I think it's going to be a huge game.  Everybody around here is excited.  You know, we haven't played for this in a long time.  We're just going to approach it like we do every other week.  Florida is a great football team; everybody knows that.  They've done a lot of good things to get to where they're at now, and it's going to be a good game.”

On Alabama and Florida both being fast-starting teams this year:
“It's going to be huge.  It's going to be huge to start fast.  That's the way we approach every game.  The fast starts are always crucial and it will be no different in this game Saturday; we'll definitely have to start fast and start early.”

On why Alabama gets off to such a good start:
“I just think that we've been up for the games.  We've been really prepared for them; specifically my offensive line coach (Joe Pendry) does a great job with us preparing us during the week for what we're going to see.  I think when we get out there on the field; it's kind of like practice.  We've just been really prepared.  That's what's enabled us to start fast.”

On what impresses you the most about Florida’s defense:
“Their speed.  They're incredibly fast.  A lot of those guys have played a lot of games together so the chemistry sticks out.  They do a good job of being disciplined, and they've played a lot.  It's just going to be another big challenge for us to make sure we stay on the same page and we can get it done. “