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Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript
â€œIn reviewing the Arkansas State game, as I said after the game in the press conference, I think every player has to ask himself â€˜Did I play better? Did I improve? Did I play to my full capacity?â€™ Even though it was a good win for us and we did a lot of good things in the game, I think there were some inconsistencies that we certainly need to work on and try to improve, whether it be consistency in the passing game offensively or we didnâ€™t always fit the run gaps exactly right on defense. It was a challenging offense for us. I thought our players came out and played a little more aggressively in the second half. We certainly need to build on that for the future.
â€œWe had some outstanding performances in the game. On offense, Andre (Smith) played a really good game, along with (Antoine) Caldwell up front. Mark Ingram probably had his best overall game, the most production and was obviously recognized as the freshman of the week in the SEC. Rashad Johnson, Rolando McClain and Brandon Fanney all had a lot of production defensively and Rashad was also one of the most productive guys on special teams, as well as Marquis Johnson.
â€œFrom an injury standpoint, Terrence (Cody) will start working today. We donâ€™t really have a lot of other injuries. We have some nicked up guys, but everybody should be ready to go tomorrow for sure. We will just have to be day-to-day with Terrence, in terms of how he progresses. He has worked hard. He has rehabbed very well. He has stability. Now, we just need to see how he functions out there playing football and like I said it will have to be a day-to-day thing, in terms of how we bring him back.
â€œI think the No. 1 thing for our team is we appreciate the acknowledgement (of being ranked No. 1), but that really doesnâ€™t define anything, relative to what we are trying to accomplish, where we go toward the end of the season and our pride and preparation and attention to detail and the things that this team has managed to handle well to this point is going to be critical to us moving forward.
â€œWe are going to play a very, very good LSU team. They are a very talented team with a lot of good players. They are as good as anybody in our league, regardless of their record. They are very well coached. They won the national championship last year and they have a lot of good players. Offensively, they have great skills guys. Theyâ€™ve got a good offensive line. Theyâ€™ve got a good running game. They have good backs. The quarterback is young, but very talented and has been very productive as a player. Defensively, whether its Tyson Jackson or (Kirston) Pittman, the pass rushers are good. (Darry) Beckwith is a very good player and All-SEC. They have great specialists, in terms of their kicker and punter. (Trindon) Holliday is as explosive as anybody you are ever going to see. This is an outstanding team. We are certainly going to have to play our best football to have any opportunity to be successful and thatâ€™s what we are going to try to focus on and want to try to do.â€
â€œI know there are going to be a lot of people, who want to talk about this game, and I am going to say it again, this game is not about me. This is a very good team and this game should be about the players, on both sides. There are a lot of good players out there and two good football teams. We should be able to focus on whatâ€™s going to happen on the field. We appreciated out time there. It was very special what we were able to do there. We have great memories and great friends, but my heart is with this team. This team has worked hard. We have had a lot of good leadership on this team and these guys deserve the best opportunity they can to be put in the best circumstance and situation to be successful and that is certainly what weâ€™re going to try and focus on.â€
On match-up between Alabama receivers and LSU cornerbacks:
â€œThe big thing for us is they play good team defense. They do a good job of rushing and pushing the pocket and weâ€™re going to have to do a good job in protection. Our route runners are certainly going to have to separate from their man-to-man coverage and weâ€™re going to have to do that a little more consistently. When people play man-to-man, itâ€™s a little smaller area to throw the ball into and we are going to have to throw it accurately and be able to catch it and make plays. I think the most important thing against a defensive team like this is creating balance and eliminating negative plays, so you donâ€™t get behind in the down and distance so they wonâ€™t pin their ears back and just come get you, which is what they have been very good and create a lot of problems for people.â€
On possibility of clinching SEC Western Division this weekend:
â€œI think every game that you have in the SEC is an important game. This is certainly an important game for us. They are a very good team. We have to play our games one game at a time and every one of our games in the SEC is important and this one is certainly important. We are not worried about anything except playing our best football so it gives us the best opportunity to be successful. Then when itâ€™s all said and done, weâ€™ll see what that brings us.â€
On John Parker Wilson â€™s improvement:
â€œI think more of it is stability on his part and managing and handling situations, being more confident and having a better understanding. Weâ€™ve talked about this quite a bit of his business approach of what he is doing. He is a very competitive guy and very emotional. To be able to kind of stay in his zone and make good choices and decisions and make business decisions has probably been the biggest difference in his play. I think itâ€™s probably minimized his bad plays and certainly affected his good plays and certainly helped us offensively by not having as many negative plays. I think thatâ€™s critical to the success of our offensive team.â€
On playing well in hostile environments this season:
â€œI think it shows maturity on our teamâ€™s part to be able to go into some of these difficult places to play, and I think every place in the SEC is a tough place to play. It shows a lot of maturity on their part to stay focused and execute to do the things they need to do and not be affected by the external factors in the game, which is the crowd, and I know this will be one of the most challenging that we have this year to continue to be able to do that.â€
On the maturity of this team with only nine scholarship seniors:
â€œMaturity doesnâ€™t always just come with age, but I do think the nine seniors on this team show tremendous leadership. I think some of the younger players on the team have shown a lot of maturity, in the way theyâ€™ve been able to handle the circumstance that theyâ€™re in. A couple of freshmen have shown a lot of maturity. A couple of sophomore players have shown a lot of maturity. I think itâ€™s critical that we stay focused that way as a team and not let other things affect that. As I said before, we are trying to develop a kind of an elite attitude in terms of expectation and what want to try and accomplish. That does not happen overnight. That doesnâ€™t happen today, but I think there is a pretty good buy-in with most of the players here, relative to what is expected of them, what they can give and what they are willing to do to help the team try and be successful and I think that is the most important that has contributed to that maturity.â€
On reception you expect Saturday and being on the other sideline at Tiger Stadium:
â€œAgain, regardless of the reception and regardless of anything, my focus is on our team and the job that we have to do. We canâ€™t control any of that stuff and weâ€™re not concerned about it and we have to stay focused on the task at hand and do a good job for our team. I think itâ€™s what our players deserve and we are going to do everything in our power to stay focused on to do. This is a part of the game and fans are emotional. We respect their fans and they are great fans and itâ€™s certainly nothing personal between us and them, certainly not form my standpoint. I think our players need to understand they need to stay focused on the task at hand because they have a very good team and how we play on the field is going to be the most important thing to affect the outcome of the game.â€