The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team continues its work towards the BCS National Championship Game. A practice update follows along with a transcript of Nick Saban’s press conference. The injury update: “From an injury stand point, James Carpenter is not injured, he’s just sick, he’s got the flu, so we held him out today,” Saban commented. “He did practice (Sunday) night. Marquis (Johnson) has a combination of two things. He’s sick, but he did hurt his thumb in the last practice that we had. It’s in a cast. He did practice some today and he will be able to practice when it settles down and he should be able to play in the game, so we don’t have any issues there.”
Alabama Holds Second Practice After Break courtesy of UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA – The Alabama football team worked for two hours in shells Monday afternoon at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility, completing its second practice since the team returned from the holiday break.
“Today, we sort of tried to vary the practices in terms of what we do, so we’re not doing the same things every day,” Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said following Monday’s practice. “We usually go two days in pads and one day in shells, we had gone the last day in pads and the first day back in pads, so today was a shell day. Sort of like what we’d do on Monday in game week, a lot of 7-on-7, cut down the hitting a little bit and a lot of assignment work, so that’s really what we did today and it went well today. We did some heavy running and tried to improve on our conditioning.
“It was a little chilly out, but I think that every day we get the opportunity and the fields are dry enough and we can go outside, since we are playing outside, we need to try and do that, especially in the kicking game and we worked a lot on the kicking game today. I think we got a lot accomplished.”
The team practiced for five days from Dec. 19-23 before a three-day break for the holidays. The Crimson Tide returned to campus on Sunday and will practice five more times before departing for California on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010.
“We got everyone back safely (Sunday) afternoon and had a good practice, inside in pads, and tried to get the players to sort of work the kinks out after being off the last few days and it really went better than I anticipated, in terms of picking up where we left off,” Saban added.
Coach Saban also mentioned that junior left tackled James Carpenter and senior defensive back Marquis Johnson were both sick on Monday.
“From an injury stand point, James Carpenter is not injured, he’s just sick, he’s got the flu, so we held him out today,” Saban commented. “He did practice (Sunday) night. Marquis (Johnson) has a combination of two things. He’s sick, but he did hurt his thumb in the last practice that we had. It’s in a cast. He did practice some today and he will be able to practice when it settles down and he should be able to play in the game, so we don’t have any issues there.”
No. 1 Alabama (13-0, 8-0 SEC) will face No. 2 Texas (13-0, 8-0 Big 12) in the Citi BCS National Championship Game on Thursday, Jan.7, 2010, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The game will be nationally televised by ABC Sports.
WOODALL TABBED FOR EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME: Alabama senior defensive back Justin Woodall was selected to play in the 2010 East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Jan, 23, 2010.
The Oxford, Miss., native started all 13 games and finished the season with 45 tackles, including 1 ½ tackles for loss (-8 yards). He added three interceptions (33 return yards) and 13 passes defended.
Woodall is one of six UA players selected to play in post-season college all-star game, joining Javier Arenas, Terrence Cody, Mike Johnson, Colin Peek and Leigh Tiffin, who were selected to play in the 2010 Senior Bowl in Mobile on Saturday, Jan. 30.
MORE from Nick Saban’s press conference: Alabama Football Transcript from Monday, December 28, 2009
Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript
On the play of Marquis Maze:
“We really liked his speed and explosiveness as a high school player and he is one of the guys as soon as we got here we immediately started to recruit. I think he had sort of been committed someplace else, so we felt fortunate to be able to get him to come on a visit. I think he has gotten better and better each year. He has certainly had a very good year this year and made a lot of big plays. He has explosive speed and the ability to run after the catch. His toughness that he plays with, he has turned out to be a real good special teams player for us. We haven’t had to use him in the return game, but I think that’s something he might be able to do in the future. We are really pleased with his progress. Most of it is just maturing into being a player at a position that he didn’t really play when he was in high school. Those guys, it usually takes them a little more time and we have certainly never been disappointed in his progress. Last year he made a significant contribution and this year he built on that and actually improved dramatically, in terms of what he was able to do, in terms of his consistency, not only as a play-maker, but he has turned out to be a pretty good blocker for his size and plays with a lot of toughness.”
On the play of James Carpenter:
“He has done extremely well. He’s really done a god job for us. I think playing alongside Mike Johnson certainly enhanced his development and his confidence because initially it was what to do, then he learned how to do, but then he got a lot more confident in why we needed to do it that way, because he was playing alongside a guy that was very experienced and a good player and made most of the calls. I think that really enhanced his development, but he has done a really, really good job all year long. He played well in the beginning of the season and he did nothing but get better and better as the year went on. So, it was someone we really needed to come through for us this year. I’d say he did a fantastic job for us.”
On the role of safeties when McCoy takes off and runs the ball:
“The safeties are not necessarily responsible for McCoy when he takes off with the ball. Everybody’s got an assignment each time on defense. They run zone-option, where he pulls the ball sometimes. They run quarterback counters. They run quarterback draws. I think that the fact is they are such a good passing team and he’s such a good passer and they have very good passing efficiency in all that they do. They are a very good third-down team. They force you to really try and play more where you are covering your receivers, so now you have less people in the box, which makes it more difficult to defend quarterback runs and I think that’s one of the things that he has as much speed as any quarterback that we have played against all year. We are going to have to be more disciplined, especially up front in the front seven, of making sure that our eye control and our keying is very disciplined, so that we have the right guys in the right places when he decides to run the ball, because you are a little bit spread out with the kind of offense that they run.”
On news with Urban Meyer and do you take precautions when it comes to your health:
“My motivation is I figure I can work here and take the stress here, or I can retire and go home and work for Terry and take the stress there. So, so far, I’ve been trying to keep my day job, because I would be working just as hard at home. That’s kind of my motivation. I don’t think I really feel like I have an out right now, so I’m willing to hang in there. I will say this, I think that college football is a lot better off with people like Urban Meyer in our profession. He is a true professional in what he does. He has done a fantastic job every place he has been and he does it with a lot of dignity and class and professionalism. We not only have a lot of respect for him as a person, but the wonderful job he has done everywhere he has been, especially at the University of Florida. So, we’re also very mindful and concerned that he doesn’t have a health issue that will affect his future and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, in terms of making sure that he takes care of himself, so he doesn’t have issues in the future, relative to his health.”
On Texas’ kickoff return team:
“They are very good at kickoff returns. I think they have had three for touchdowns this year, maybe more, but three that I can remember watching the tapes. We have covered kicks well when we have been disciplined in what we are supposed to do, reading the indicator the right way, dodging the blocks the right way and fitting it the right way. I think that’s going to be important for us to do again because we faced some good returners. They actually have two good returners, not one, and both are very fast and both guys are capable of making big plays in kickoff returns. It’s going to be a real challenge for our kick coverage to do the right things, being in the right place, dodge the blocks the right way, fit the wedge the right way, overlap and keep the ball in front like we need to be able to have good kickoff coverage.”
On the production of Terrence Cody:
“I think the nature of his position is not one where you would have a significant amount of production, in terms of he is an interior player, he plays nose guard or usually plays on the center of just off the center in the A-gap. I think the value that he creates for us, first off all he is very difficult to block, and most of the time they’ve got to use two blockers on him, which means that somebody else is not getting blocked, primarily the linebackers and those guys make a lot of plays and make lots of tackles and not have people coming off to block them, where it’s more difficult to take on a block, get off a block and make a tackle. I think his real value is that he is very difficult to block and he eats up a few blockers that helps the other players on the team play a lot better.”
On his future in the NFL:
“I think a lot of these players they sometimes need to understand that they are constantly being evaluated, in terms of what they do, how they and how they manage issues that they have. I think all those things affect their future. I think Terrence could have a very, very bright future if he makes the choices and decisions to manage himself and the kind of football player he wants to be in a positive way. I think he has a tremendous amount of potential and he has a chance to be a very, very successful player, because they do look for players like him, who are difficult to block, who are good interior players and can play a special role on the team and he can certainly do that.”
On the number of interceptions Texas has this season:
“Well, I think Texas has a very good defense, period. They’ve got a very good secondary. They’ve got good people up front. They’ve got very good pass rushers. I think all those things contribute to the turnovers. I think they also have the most non-offensive touchdowns scored (in the nation), which means their defense is scoring some too. I think it’s because of the pressure, and not just the way the players play in the back end, but also the pressure they put on you and how it affects the quarterback up front. The challenge is that all the guys do their job well. We’re going to have to protect well. We’re going to have to run good routes and get open, make a good choice in the way we distribute the ball from the quarterback position. Turnovers will definitely have an impact on this game, like they do every game.”