Video: Saban SEC Week press conf. (12-01-08)

Here is video and a transcript of Nick Saban’s Monday, December 1, 2008, press conference.

Coach Saban Press Conference Transcript
Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript – 2008 SEC Championship Game (via UA Media Relations)
Opening Comments:

“Well, just a quick review of the Auburn game. It was obviously a tough, physical football game on both sides. We have things that we need to correct and improve which is what we always try to gain from what we experienced in the previous game. When you play in a game like this, it’s kind of a one-game season for you, so we need to refocus and turn our attention to the next game. It was great for our team to get the win. It was great for our seniors to win their last game in Bryant-Denny Stadium. They have the experience of beating our in-state rival.

“We had some guys that had some outstanding performances in the game. Antoine Caldwell was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week and played an outstanding game. Glen Coffee was very good. Marlon Davis played a very good game. Defensively, Rashad Johnson did a good job, as did Brandon Fanney. On special teams, two freshmen, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron, did an outstanding job, especially on kickoff coverage. We are very pleased with the progress those guys have made all season long and they have really helped our special teams.

“Injury-wise, I mentioned it yesterday that Roy Upchurch is probably the guy that is most questionable. He has a lingering problem of feeling comfortable with his neck and we will just go day-to-day with him and see how he improves or responds. This may be something that needs to be examined a little closer and we are going to take the steps and measures to make sure he is O.K. We don’t want to put him in a bad position. He wanted to play in the game. He played two plays. We tried him and he didn’t feel like he was really himself, so we just left it at that.

“The competitive character is something that we have talked about a lot in the time that we have been here. If you have great competitive character then you want to play in the biggest games and this is certainly an opportunity for our players to play against one of the best teams in the country in one of the best competitive venues that you could ever be associated with, or at least a part of, which has been my experience.

“Florida has an outstanding team. Obviously their record and their ranking speaks for itself. I think the balance they have on offense, the point production and the consistency that they have shown. Tim Tebow is an outstanding player and a very good leader. The outstanding skill guys that they have, whether it’s the receivers, the number runners or the combination or runner and receivers, like Percy Harvin. They have a lot of weapons. They have a lot of speed. They have a very good concept and they are very well-coached. Urban Meyer has done a fantastic job there and this is an excellent team. Defensively, they are one of the top defensive teams in the country. They have great speed and athleticism. They do a great job of forcing turnovers and forcing offensive teams to make mistakes and take advantage of it. They have speed on defense. They are very athletic in the secondary and are a very, very good team. Their special teams is probably one of the best parts of their team because of the skills guys that they have and the returners that that have. James is as good as we’ve played against all year, whether it’s kickoff return or punt return. They do a good job on their special teams all the way around. Probably one of the telling tales about being successful is being first in the country in turnover ratio, which is always to me one of the most significant things in winning and losing. This is certainly a great football team and we are looking forward to the opportunity that we have created for ourselves. From a competitive character standpoint, this is what you play for, this is what you do to have an opportunity like this. Certainly our team and our players are looking forward to it.”

On importance of turnovers and your team has done a good job of that as well:
“Well, we tried to actually pick up a fumble that we should have recovered that we eventually recovered in the last game. We practice turnovers. We have turnover circuit. We really practice taking care of the ball offensively. When we practice against each other, we are constantly trying to create turnovers, defensively, as well as the offensive guys developing an awareness that someone is always trying to get the ball away from me. I think it’s just a point of emphasis from a staff standpoint. I think interceptions come from guys that have pretty good ball judgment and confidence in playing the ball. Not throwing them, comes form the judgment of the quarterback. All of those things are important and is something we coach and guard against all the time, but we actually do some things in practice, whether its how to scoop the ball, how to pick up, how to recover or how to create and how not to allow them to do that is something that we are always working toward.”

On coaching against an offense like Florida:
“I think they are a spread offense. Obviously the quarterback is a unique player, in terms of his ability to throw the ball and be a very good runner, and that always creates one more blocker and one more thing that you have to defend. We have seen some parts of what they do throughout the year, so we have some frame of reference of what they do. I think the biggest thing they do is utilize a lot of different formations, a lot of different personnel groups and utilize their players in different ways. They have a lot of good players and that makes it very challenging to try and stay in the right leverage positions and make the adjustments you need to make so that you’re not unsound, in terms of something that they do. Their offensive line, in the meantime, has done a pretty good job of blocking the up front people. So it’s really important to control your gaps up front and play on the line of scrimmage, be aggressive, get off your blocks and make plays. They are reading a lot of the things that they do so as defensive player you have to read and react to what they are doing as well.”

On how high-profile games affect recruiting:
“I think exposure affects recruiting as much as anything. Obviously when you do well, I think people recognize that you have a pretty good program and you develop players pretty well. Not only that, but we have a pretty good academic situation, here, in terms of graduation rates and seniors graduating now. All those factor into player development-type things to help people to be successful. We get an opportunity to show them because of some of the exposure that we get. I think all of that is important.”

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