SEC: Alabama players on the SEC Championship Game

SEC Championship Game

SEC Championship Game

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE PLAYER QUOTES (courtesy of UA Media Relations)
Some comments from Rolando McClain, Colin Peek, Javier Arenas, Greg McElroy, Mike Johnson and Mark Ingram.

Alabama Junior linebacker Rolando McClain
On Florida:
“They’re obviously a very good team, well coached with a lot of good skill guys. They’re a good team because they do the little things. They have a lot of good athletes but those athletes do the small things and they obviously have a great leader in Tim Tebow. It’s going to be a hard task for us, but I think it’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be a hard task for us, but I think we’ll be ready for this game like any other game.”

On the similarities between Alabama and Florida:
“I think we match up pretty well. We have a lot of good skill guys, we have a pretty good leader, and we have a darn good coach, so I think we match up fine.”

On facing Tim Tebow for the second consecutive year in the SEC Championship game:
“He’s just a fierce competitor and that’s something I admire in him. Whether it’s on Florida’s offense or defense, he always finds a way to pick either side up and that’s big, especially for a quarterback. That’s something I admire in him. Last year it was tough game and in the fourth quarter I think his leadership put them over the edge. In the end they got the victory.”

On whether or not he has to remind himself that Tebow is just another player needing to be tackled and not some larger than life figure:
“I tackled him a few times last year. He’s not anything out of the ordinary, especially playing the SEC and playing against big running backs. It’s something I’m used to. He is a fierce competitor and you can’t take that away from him. He’s going to fight for every inch.”

On the difference in Florida’s offensive playmakers on this year’s team versus last year’s:
“They aren’t as deep at wide receiver this year as they were last year, but those guys that are there now are still capable of making big plays. They have made big plays, but we think we’ll be alright. We’re going to respect those guys, what they can do and what they have done already. We’re just going to try to play our style of football.”

On whether or not he’s better prepared to face Florida’s offense this year:
“I think we’re more comfortable with what they’re going to do. We’ve got a good feel with what they’re going to do. I’m sure they’re going to have something different, like every other team. Like coach (Saban) always says, ‘it’s not about what they do; it’s about what we do.’”

On being less blown away by the moment this year as compared to last:
“You can’t get caught up in the moment really. You’ve just got to out and do your job. Treat it as it is a business. This is our job. We came here to play football. You come to Alabama for games like this against a great team. You have to seize the moment. We have something huge at hand. Last year we wanted to win the national championship. We got so close and this game determined whether we won or lost. That’s still in the back of our minds, and we’re just going to go out with a different mindset – play our style of football for 60 minutes. I think we’ll be alright.”

Alabama Senior tight end Colin Peek
On bouncing back after an emotional win:
“It’s going to be an emotional week, I think, for everyone on the team. Everyone has sort of been looking at this game since the LSU victory, and you realize that sort of rivalry was going to be renewed – sort of a vendetta that you have a chance to get back at. I see a lot of enthusiasm and passion for this game, and I know it’s going to be shown during practice. These are the games that you come to college football for, to play for championships. I am thankful that I have the opportunity and I’m sure everyone else is thankful for it, and we’re going to try to make the most of it.”

On finally being able to talk about the game against Florida:
“It’s kind of funny because of the fact that you knew it was a game that was coming up, and you knew that it was something that at some point you were going to have to play, but at the same time coach Saban always talks about each game is just a one game season. Any player’s goal is to win a national championship. First you have to win the state championship, then you have to win the SEC Championship and then you have a chance to play for the national championship. You really can’t put everything into one game, but at the same time it comes down to a one game season with each game. You look at it as this is a tremendous opportunity to get yourself somewhere even greater than what it is right now. That’s the way we see it. It’s not about winning the SEC Championship; it’s about trying to accomplish something better than that, something greater than that. We realize it’s going to take everything we have to win this game, but at the same time, you can put everything you have into this game because you have a month off. That’s the biggest thing. You’re going to see two teams out there that I’m pretty sure are going to die on that field trying to win a championship.”

On Greg McElroy:
“As you see, he’s a cool customer when the pressure is on against auburn. A lot of quarterbacks may have stumbled or had nerves, but he just stayed really relaxed in the pocket and showed tremendous poise. I think that’s what you want in a quarterback and to be honest – even though we didn’t play the way we wanted to and things didn’t happen the we thought they were going to in that game – coming out on the winning end you could say was a great opportunity to really test our team’s character. I think we were really able to prevail when push came to shove. I think that should give us, our offense at least, a tremendous confidence boost in the fact that last year (Tim) Tebow really did take that team on his shoulders and willed them to a victory. We understand that if push comes to shove and it’s forcing our offense, we can do the same thing hopefully. That’s what we believe in ourselves. When we come into every game we sort of have the mindset that we’re going to win this game, and I think that’s what great teams have. Greg really showed that and I’m really proud to be his tight end and be a part of this offense.”

Alabama Senior cornerback/return specialist Javier Arenas
On the differences of Florida’s offense from last year:
“There might not be all the huge names (like last year), but on the field these guys can play. They’re quick, fast, some of them are strong, their receivers can run great routes and their offensive line can block with the best of them. It’s no secret to us, maybe to some other people, but to us it’s no secret.”

On continuing to compete in the face of adversity:
“You’ve got to keep competing. Things like that are going to happen – you’ve got the guy covered and they score. I think if you keep your composure, for the most part you can avoid that from happening again. The guy (Tim Tebow) is a good quarterback and they have good receivers. They’re going to make a play every once in a while – it’s how you come back from that. I think that will be important for us this weekend. I think we’re ready for that. We’ve had experience all year going through things like that. We’ve got to come back strong, shake it off and have a short memory.”

On the game being like a one-game season:
“It is. What matters is Saturday. Nothing else matters. We’re not thinking about what can happen if the game is won or lost. We’re thinking about going out there and playing to the best of our ability, executing the game plan, executing our assignments and doing what we have to do to put ourselves in the best position to be successful. I’m pretty sure they’re doing the same thing. Both sides are thinking the same way. It’s a one-game season.”

Alabama Junior quarterback Greg McElroy
On having never lost as a starting quarterback:
“I guess that’s something I take a lot of pride in, but it’s not something I’m going to voice or compare, because Tim (Tebow) has had as much success at the college level as you could possibly have. He’s been a great quarterback for Florida and he’s obviously as celebrated a player as there is in the country. With that being said, I feel strongly about the way we’ve played, about our preparation, and I feel strongly that if we go out and execute we’re going to be very competitive. It’s going to be a good game and I feel strongly that we will be very well prepared.”

On whether Florida’s defense forces Alabama’s offense to change its approach:
“No, not by any means. We’re going to play our game. They have a great and very successful defense. What they do defensively is not necessarily over complicated, but what they have done is a great job of recruiting, so they have great football players in each position. They play with a lot of speed, they play with a lot of confidence and they embarrass a lot of teams. We’re going to have to come out ready to play because they can do a great job defensively, just like our defense can do. We’re just going to have to be ready to play.”

On whether or not he’s looking forward to facing what many consider to be the best secondary in the SEC, if not the country:
“Absolutely. Right now, they’re the defending SEC champs. We’re the defending runner-up. Who wouldn’t be excited? This is why you sign up at Alabama. You don’t come here to win the Davey O’Brien Award. You don’t come here to play in front of a big crowd. You come here to win championships. You come where to win games. That’s why they recruited me and that’s why I’m here, because that’s the tradition that’s established here and that’s what I want to be a part of. We’re looking forward to obviously building our own legacy. We’re 12 games in on our own storyline and our own chapter in our Alabama legacy – in our Alabama novel, I guess, for lack of a better term. It’s going to be a good game. It’s going to be competitive. In order to be considered the best team in the SEC you have to beat the defending champion. That’s what is in front of us right now. We’re going to have to come ready to play in order to do that.”

Alabama Senior left guard Mike Johnson
On the offensive keys to the game:
“Hopefully we can just put together good drives and a string of plays to get points on the board. They’re obviously very talented on defense and on offense; we’ve just got to do the things we need to do to win the game, just like we’ve been doing.”

On getting lost in the moment that is the SEC Championship game:
“We might have gotten lost in the moment last year just because it was our first championship game as a team. I don’t think there is any danger of that this year. We came into the season with expectations of winning a championship, and we’re going to try to follow through on that this weekend.”

On the hype surrounding Tim Tebow:
“He gets a lot of hype and deservingly so. He’s a great player. At the same time, he steps on the same football field that we do on game day. We’re going to try to string together a bunch of plays to put points on the board just like he’s going to try to.”

Alabama Sophomore running back Mark Ingram
On his pass attempt in the end zone to Julio Jones:
“I threw a pretty good ball, I believe. It kind of drifted little bit. I was running to the right, but it was so close. Hopefully we’ll have another opportunity to capitalize on that.”

On how he feels physically:
“I feel good. I had a little bruised hip in the game, but it’s getting progressively better every day. I should be 100 percent by Saturday and be ready to go.”

On whether or the injury hampered his play against Auburn:
“It wasn’t until the end of the game that I got hurt, on the last drive. It didn’t hamper me until I came out. I came out because I knew Trent (Richardson) would have a better opportunity of helping this team get to where it needed to be to help win the game, so I came out.”

On the importance of not having the “this is my team” mentality:
“Because it’s not my team. It’s all our team. We all worked hard to get to this point, and that’s what a team is for. When some stuff isn’t working right, other people have to step up. They (Auburn) game planned great for our running game. They had eight or nine people in the box and came out with some looks that we weren’t expecting. That helped out the passing game a lot. Julio (Jones) had nine catches, (Colin) Peek a big catch, Roy (Upchurch) had a big catch at the end of the game and Greg (McElroy) had a great game. Other aspects of our game stepped up and that’s what helped us pull that game off.”