Alabama Football Player Teleconference Transcript

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Dec. 22, 2009

University of Alabama - BCS National Championship Players Teleconference Transcript

Junior linebacker Rolando McClain
On the challenges Texas presents in the National Championship game:
"They are obviously a very good team. They have a great quarterback who has good receivers around him. We just have to do what we've been doing this entire year and that is just playing our style of football. Coach (Nick Saban) always says it is not about what they do, it's about what we do. So we just have to go out and play our game and I think we'll be alright."

On the biggest challenge the Longhorns offense presents:
"I really haven't watched too much film on them, but just going on by what I've seen in previous games on television the offense goes through (quarterback) Colt McCoy. So we just have to do a good job of affecting him and limiting his ability to run and trying to get some pressure on him to get the pocket to collapse some, so that he doesn't have as much time to throw the ball."

On staying sharp and peeking at the right time after the layover between the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship:
"I don't know about peeking, but coach has done a great job so far with scheduling practice. We don't want to practice too much, and we don't want to practice too little, so we just got started recently and everybody feels good about it. We'll just have to do a good job making sure everybody stays in shape. We didn't really stay in shape for last year's game and that's something we're trying to work on now."

On what makes quarterback Greg McElroy hard to defend:
"I don't defend him personally, he's just a smart quarterback. In practice he does a great job of trying to recognize most of our coverages and picking out where we are going to blitz from. I try to just step down to him and change things while he changes things. I guess in practice and camp he is pretty good at making some reads, so I'm trying to be on top of my game as much against him as any other quarterback."

Junior quarterback Greg McElroy
On his recruitment coming out of high school:
"I was really dead set on Texas Tech. I was only going to have one year to start in high school, so I committed to Texas Tech early, I knew I was going to go through and there would be many more opportunities for me after the season, and I knew I was going to reevaluate everything and take my visits and things like that. After doing that and going back through the process I had a number of scholarships (offers) roll in and a lot of them came in late because a lot of people wanted to see what I was capable of. I took some visits and obviously came to Alabama and I just fell in love with it here. It was the greatest fit for me, both academically and athletically. And I have never regretted my decision since.

On his familiarity with Texas quarterback Colt McCoy:
"I've known Colt for a number of years, just meeting each other in camps and things. A lot of guys would say that being a quarterback is very similar to being a member of a fraternity, just because we all have a similar understanding, we've all gone through similar circumstances and we've all done a lot of similar things. I spent some time with Colt this summer at the Manning Passing Academy, and I wouldn't say Colt and I are real close or anything, but we definitely have a mutual respect for one another. I've followed his career and I've obviously followed his season this year. It's been a pleasure for me to watch him and learn from him and obviously it's going to be quite a joy to face him.

On waiting three years to start following Chase Daniel at Southlake Carroll HS and John Parker Wilson at Alabama:
"You don't get antsy, because anything worth doing, is worth waiting for in my opinion. That is something that my mom and my dad have always preached to me, that if you are really going to be successful, you can't expect success immediately. Being able to learn from those guys and observe those guys over the years when I backed them up, it allowed me to be a better player. I don't have any regrets. I don't have any negative feelings toward Chase (Daniels) or John Parker (Wilson). They were both obviously big mentors of mine and two people that I greatly respect. I definitely appreciated backing them up and coming to Alabama. I knew that I was going to be behind a good player in John Parker. I didn't expect to come in here and play right away. I expected to just go through the process, and I was asked to make the most of it and I was able to do that, obviously this spring and throughout the fall."

On how Coach Saban deals with his quarterbacks:
"He's been really good to me. My coach in high school was really driven. He was an excellent offensive coach and coached the game in a very constructive and critical way and was very much a perfectionists. I developed that perfectionist style with him, and I learned to never do things halfway, never do things three-quarters of the way. I know how to work. I know how to prepare myself and give it 100 percent. Coach Saban, although he spends most of his time on the defensive side of the field, he does spend time with the quarterbacks. As everyone knows he is very in control of his team. Offense, defense and special teams have all taken on his identity and what he stands for. He is really good with quarterbacks and he allows Coach (Jim) McElwain to teach us the fundamentals and teach the offense and things like that, but he is also very hands on when it comes to the team drills and team situations like that, because he understands the importance of taking care of the ball and being efficient. Coach Saban really preaches that to us and I've learned a lot from him, more so about mentality as opposed to just quarterback play. I think a lot can be said about that, because if your quarterback is mentally tough, and your team is mentally tough, then you're going to be able to have success throughout the game and especially in the fourth quarter when it really counts."

On how Coach Saban deals with mistakes made during practice:
"In practice I think he understands that practice is when you iron out the wrinkles and there are difficult times in practice and against our defense, mistakes are going to be made, whether it is by me or another member of the offense. It is just part of it. Coach Saban does a really good job of both praising the defense and trying to correct us and that is obviously really helpful. He is obviously very vocal when you've done something that disappoints him, which is good. I think as a player it is important when you are criticized to be told what you are doing wrong and when you are ineffective. When Coach Saban does that we all learn from it and gain a lot of experience from it, because Coach Saban has been at the highest level for an extremely long time and everyone has something to learn from it. When he comes down on you, it is only because he wants you to succeed, so it is definitely a great learning experience for everyone involved, including both the quarterbacks and the entire offense."

On how Coach Saban deals with his quarterbacks:
"He's been really good to me. My coach in high school was really driven. He was an excellent offensive coach and coached the game in a very constructive and critical way and was very much a perfectionists. I developed that perfectionist style with him, and I learned to never do things halfway, never do things three-quarters of the way. I know how to work. I know how to prepare myself and give it 100 percent. Coach Saban, although he spends most of his time on the defensive side of the field, he does spend time with the quarterbacks. As everyone knows he is very in control of his team. Offense, defense and special teams have all taken on his identity and what he stands for. He is really good with quarterbacks and he allows Coach (Jim) McElwain to teach us the fundamentals and teach the offense and things like that, but he is also very hands on when it comes to the team drills and team situations like that, because he understands the importance of taking care of the ball and being efficient. Coach Saban really preaches that to us and I've learned a lot from him, more so about mentality as opposed to just quarterback play. I think a lot can be said about that, because if your quarterback is mentally tough, and your team is mentally tough, then you're going to be able to have success throughout the game and especially in the fourth quarter when it really counts."

On what he misses most of his home state of Texas:
"Texas has been such a great place for me growing up. I think probably the thing I miss most, besides my family, is probably my Dallas Cowboys. That was obviously kind of the staple of my childhood and the staple of my growing up was going to the Cowboys game on Sundays. I think obviously being so far away from that and being in the middle of Falcons and Saints territory down here in the south, it's a little more difficult to watch Cowboys games and when the Cowboys are on TV, you're bound to catch some heckling. I think I probably miss the Cowboys, being the diehard fan that I am. That's probably the biggest thing."

On Southlake Carroll HS quarterbacks leaving the state of Texas:
"I can't really answer that. I think it really depends on the certain quarterback situation. I know Chase had a great opportunity to go to Missouri and I had a great opportunity to go to Alabama. I enjoyed my time in Texas and I enjoyed learning and growing up there and playing football there, because Texas high school football, and Pee Wee football, and middle school football there is probably as competitive as anywhere. It was a great learning experience for me and I think everything worked out in the end with me coming to Alabama."

On overcoming the instability of coaching turnover at Alabama earlier in the decade:
"I think the fact that we have experienced the probation years and the coaching turnover and things like that, it's obviously been a difficult time period for the University of Alabama and our football program. But I think the fact that we've been able to overcome it and been able to learn from it and obviously now we are getting ready to play for a national championship, is just proof that Alabama is back to where it belongs, where we all deserve to be. In my years, I have had two head coaches and three offensive coordinators in four years, so it has been difficult. I understand as a player how hard it is to experience coaching changes. You feel unwanted at times. You feel upset at times, but the main thing is, this university belongs on top of the college football world and we're fortunate to have Coach Saban now and the coaches that come before obviously led us to Coach Saban and things have worked out."

On his memories of former Southlake Carroll teammate and current Texas running back Tre' Newton:
"Tre' was obviously an incredible talent. He was a sophomore when I was a senior. I've gotten an opportunity to kind of watch Tre' grow up so to speak, having watched him through middle school, playing on JV as a freshman and then obviously with me as my starting running back as a senior. He's an incredible talent. None of us are surprised with what he has accomplished at Texas and being the running back there at such an early age is just really remarkable considering the talent they have on their roster. My greatest memories of Tre' just watching him break six or seven tackles in the state championship game to spring a long run. He is the epitome of a great Texas running back. Obviously there has been a long line of them, and I'm proud to say that I played with a great running back that now carries the ball for the Longhorns on a regular basis."

Senior left guard Mike Johnson
On Alabama's offense:
"I think we've prided ourselves on having balance this year, especially as an offensive line to be able to run and throw the ball when needed. We've done a pretty good job of keeping it balanced. Just having the threat of running or throwing the ball is hard for defenses to keep up to. They had the boxed stacked up against us a lot last year and we would still gain yardage, but we couldn't do it at the end of the year. Just having that balance, we have a lot of pride in that and I think the balanced offense is the best offense to have."

On Alabama's more traditional physical offense in the era of popular spread offenses:
"When you have an offense like ours, you are able to control a lot of clock. I think we had (the ball) 40 minutes in the Florida game. That keeps other offenses off the field. When you have a quick strike offense, a lot of times you can get points, but the other offense is right back out there. You see that a lot in other leagues. In this tough conference we're in, ball control really helps out a lot. Coach McElwain and Coach (Joe) Pendry do a great job in getting us in the right plays and drawing up plays that play to our strengths and I think you've seen that play out on the field."

On whether the offensive line watched Mark Ingram win the Heisman Trophy together:
"We were all separated, but we were all texting and calling each other. We were talking about it all day. Myself, Drew Davis, William Vlachos, James Carpenter and Barrett Jones, we were all talking back and forth all day. When it came down to it, we were all calling and texting right there when it happened and you wouldn't have seen a happier group of guys than what we were."

On the offensive line's pride in Ingram winning the Heisman Trophy:
"Well, when you talk about an offensive line, that was supposed to be patchwork coming into the year, it was a lot of replacements. We lost two All-Americans and a lot of games started in those three guys we lost last year. We came in and did all right. We just came in and did a lot of work in the offseason and a lot of work throughout the year to just keep getting better. Just to see it kind of payoff in that one moment for Mark, we couldn't be more proud of him. He is a class act and he gives all the credit to the offensive line a lot and we appreciate that from him and he has been a pleasure to block for."

On the offensive line being referred to as "patchwork" at the beginning of the season:
"We knew the offensive line was going to be a question mark. We're not stupid. We see the field the same way you all do and we knew we were going to have to replace some quality guys. Andre Smith was an Outland Trophy winner and a first-round draft pick. Antoine Caldwell was an All-American and four-year starter. Marlon Davis was a three- or four-year starter. We knew we had to replace some quality guys. We knew the only way we were going to be able to do that and get it done, was to practice. Just go out and work real hard and we worked really hard in the offseason. I think you see just the communication part. We have a freshman and a junior-college transfer starting for us and to get those guys up to speed and on the same page takes a lot of communication time and a lot of practice time. Just spending time together and watching film, stuff like that, in order to get that way. We put in that time in the off-season and I'm just glad we're on a team heading to the national championship and we can see our work payoff.

On his favorite Greg McElroy story:
"Nothing too crazy, but my favorite story of Greg McElroy is the Auburn game though. That fourth-quarter drive against Auburn, you really kind of see a quarterback as a first-year starter really come into his own and really kind of put his mark on Alabama history. He took over that drive and he completed a lot of good balls and did a lot of good things. When the running game wasn't really clicking, he was able to step up and come into his own and really make his mark on this team. He pulled out that victory for us. You saw a good quarterback make a lot of good plays and in the end, we came out with the win. I think that says volumes about the guy that he is."

On whether McElroy's performance in the final drive against Auburn helped him against Florida:
"It might have added to his confidence a little bit, but we've seen the way Greg is all year. We know that he's a good competitor and a good player and everybody getting a chance to see him in his other element against Florida, really just get a chance to turn it up a notch and play all out and that's what he did against Florida. He gave everything he had. He made some really good plays and really good throws. We came out with that victory. We counted on him and he was able to come through for us. Whether or not it carried over from the Auburn game, I don't know. That's a question for him, but we know what kind of player he is and he just seemed to come out at the right time in those two games."

On McElroy's presence in the huddle:
"He's really very composed, very confident. He knows there isn't a throw that he can't make. He comes in and just kind of barks out the play at us and makes sure everybody is in the huddle and everybody is on the right page. He'll make a change at the line if he has to. He's a really calm and composed guy for a first-year starter.

On what facet of the offense needs the most improvement before playing Texas next month:
"We'd really like to work on some of our power plays up inside as a offensive line. It's something that we took a lot of pride in as an offensive line last year having the big bodies. We lost a little bit of weight from last year to this year. We haven't been as successful up the middle as we've liked to. We've had a lot of successful runs, but not just as dominant as we like to be. We'd like to improve there. We're able to run the ball a lot, but a lot of it is on the perimeter and stuff like that. We really want to get things done inside and be able to take games over like that."

Sophokmore running back Mark Ingram
On getting back to practice and refocusing on Texas:
"Its been exciting just to get back with the guys and get focused on this national championship game, because Texas is a great team and we're going to have our hands full. It is just good to get back and start working again."

On Texas' number 1-ranked rushing defense:
"They are very well coached. Their defensive scheme is really complicated. They have a lot of athletes and they swarm to the ball and make it tough for an offense to be successful against them. We just have to game plan and get ready like we have all year.

On the extra popularity after winning the Heisman Trophy:
"Everywhere you go somebody recognizes you, or wants you to take a picture, or wants you to sign something. It just comes with it. I was expecting it."

On meeting Colt McCoy during award week:
"I met him in Orlando and New York. He is a real cool guy, really down to earth. We exchanged numbers, so we talked. He's a real cool guy and I'm glad I got to meet him. He's a great competitor on the field, but it was cool to get to know him in person. It was great to meet him and hang out a few times last week."

On similarities between Greg McElroy and Colt McCoy:
"They both have a desire to win and a very competitive nature. They are real cool guys, down to earth and easy to get along with. I guess that's how they compare."

On McElroy's growth as a quarterback throughout the season:
"He's definitely grown as a player. His confidence has improved every week. He had a little tough spot there in the middle of the season, but he got it together and he's playing great football right now and that's what we need for him."


 

 

     
    Alabama Holiday Sale