Saban’s Monday press transcript

Sorry just getting it posted. He covers a few interesting topics for Arkansas week—the return of Prince Hall to the linebacker corps, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and the early week injury report following the WKU game.

I’ll provide a few more notes regarding what happens Wednesday.

Opening Statement:

“We got the opportunity to see a lot of players play in this last game. It is good for their experience. We really only got to play three plays of defense in the fourth quarter which really is a tribute to our offense. There were several defensive players that we would have liked to have gotten to play more in the game. The focus is on improving and getting our team to play closer to its full potential on a consistent basis, which will certainly be the challenge for us. Coming off of this game is to go on the road in the SEC and play with the consistency that we would like to go play with. Arkansas is an outstanding team and one of the best teams in the country throwing the football. It is going to be a real challenge for us from that standpoint.

“We had a lot of guys play well for us on offense. Julio (Jones) got recognized as (SEC) player of the week. Glen Coffee, Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell all had outstanding games. Our offensive line did a really good job up front controlling the line of scrimmage. Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall played very well in the secondary. Justin had the most production points on the week with an interception, a caused fumble and a couple big hits. It is really important when you play an offense like that when you play five or six defensive backs that the secondary guys read run and passes and fit where they are supposed to and I thought those guys did a really good job. On special teams Courtney Upshaw had several tackles on the kickoff with two inside the 20. Chris Rogers has been one of our most consistent special team players all year long.

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“There is really no summary of what the first three games do for you. What you would like to get out of it as a coach is that they don’t help you in the SEC standings but the knowledge, experience and confidence are the types of things that you hope your team develops team chemistry. Hopefully these three games have taught us lessons in terms of the things that we were not able to accomplish on a consistent basis. Also build on the confidence of what we have done well and recognize the things that we need to improve on. Our team has made some improvement and we need to continue to improve. We are not disappointed in where we are but we are not where we can be. We are looking forward to trying to continue to improve. It is like an iceberg when you can only see a little at the top and there is a lot underneath the water. We just have to try and keep uncovering more and more of it and get more guys playing winning football for us so we have the best opportunity to be successful as a team. Accountability is a real big part of that and every individual on the team has to be accountable to go out and do their job regardless of what it is to help the team prepare and play well when the game comes on Saturday.

“From an injury standpoint I don’t think we have anyone that will be out of practice today. Marlon Davis obviously didn’t play in the game but he maybe could have played if we pushed it. Hopefully he has gotten better each day. He is scheduled to practice today and it is going to have to be go as you can with him. Terry Grant and Prince Hall are both ok and expected to practice today. We have some guys with the normal bumps and bruises for this time of year but I don’t think we have any problems.

“It was a real tribute from our fans to have that great of an atmosphere to play in Saturday night. We had a full house despite all the issues happening around the country with gas problems, weather problems and all kinds of things. I would certainly like to thank our fans for supporting our team and creating such an outstanding environment for us to play in and I know our players appreciate it. It was a real tribute to their support of the program and the team and we very much appreciate it.

“Bobby Petrino is an outstanding coach and he has certainly proven that everywhere he has been responsible for. Certainly his team is playing extremely well at Arkansas . They have had two outstanding comeback wins. They are one of the highest ranked teams in the country in passing the football. Casey Dick has really played well for them, making plays in their offense and good decisions and passing the ball effectively and accurately. He can also make plays with his feet when he needs to. Their tight end (D.J.) Williams is probably one of the best in the league especially from a receiving standpoint. Their offense has played extremely well in my opinion. Defensively they have a lot of guys back in their front that gave us problems. It will be a real challenge for us to get those guys blocked in the run and pass. They have a lot of experience on how to defend people with a real good defensive coordinator that comes from the NFL in Willy Robinson. We just have to worry about what we do and take care of our business and try to play our best ball and see what happens. We are certainly looking forward to the challenge of the SEC schedule starting.”

On Prince Hall returning before the start of SEC Play:
“Probably more than how he played in the game is that he got to practice with the first and second team defense in terms of the reps that he got in getting back into the swing of things. Even though we didn’t practice that much regular people because they didn’t play regular people it gave some reps. He did a nice job in the few plays that he was in there and he did a nice job at practice all last week and he has a lot of carryover in terms of his experience in what he has done. He will certainly add some depth at that position.”

On the game plan for Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs:
“Their center is an outstanding player and was recognized as the most outstanding center in college football last year and rightfully so. They are a little different now on offense. Last year they were a great running team. This year they can run the football effectively but they are very effective at passing the ball. Maybe the types of games they have been in have affected that to some degree. He is an outstanding player and what their scheme will be up front I am not sure.”

On the challenge to prepare for the Arkansas offense:
“We have played against two teams that spread quite a bit which they will be, which is how most passing teams try to do it. They do a good job of executing. It is always a challenge. They do some things that will be a challenge for us and I don’t want to minimize the fact that I think they can run the ball because they can. We have a lot of respect for their offensive line and their runner who came into the last part of the game last year and broke a couple runs outside because of his great speed. This will be the biggest challenge for our defensive team on the year to this point.”

On Demetrius Goode moving back to offense:
“Demetrius was struggling mentally with his injury. I called him in and asked him if he wanted to move to defense for a couple weeks to backpedal, run, chase and change direction and do all these things to try and develop confidence. It might have been good for him psychologically to go out there and play fast and get his movement back and feel good about himself and gain confidence. He did that for a few weeks and about a week ago or 10 days ago he came in and said he felt a lot better and that he doesn’t worry about his leg as much and was ready to move back to offense. I think he is a little more confident now.”

On the progress of David Ross:
“He played well in this game. I think these last two games have certainly enhanced his development. The knowledge and experience of being able to go out there and play has helped him tremendously. He played very well in the last game. He did better in this game than last game and didn’t play bad in the first game so we feel good about him being our third guard. He certainly solidified that position over the last two weeks.”

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