Tide players say practice more spirited this year

Alabama Player Quotes (courtesy of UA)
TUSCALOOSA – Alabama senior left guard Mike Johnson, senior nose guard Terrence Cody and senior linebacker Cory Reamer met with the media following Monday’s practice and here are some of those comments:

Senior left guard Mike Johnson
On the importance of this game compared to last year:
“I don’t think there is any doubt. Anytime you have something on the line like we have on the line. This is the biggest game we have ever played in. Last year after the SEC Championship game was kind of a letdown and we had people dragging through the Sugar Bowl. We weren’t really playing for anything other than a Sugar Bowl title. This year we have so much more to play for. It definitely shows in the spirit at practice and the way people have gone about preparing for the game and hopefully we can continue it and stay injury-free and keep the intensity up through the game.”

On if there was a point this season you realized something different this season:
“Not a whole lot. We had good leadership last year all the way through and those guys did a good job of keeping us on the right track, Antoine (Caldwell) and Rashad (Johnson), guys like that and the same carried over this year. We’ve tried to keep everybody on the right track. I think winning every game kind of makes it just that much easier to make sure we’re staying focused and make sure we’re doing the right things to come in and be successful.”

On what you learned from those guys about leadership:
“Oh, everything, especially Antoine, being an offensive lineman, he just taught me everything about trying to get things going making sure on those days when everybody doesn’t want to practice, you’ve got to keep the mood up and keep everything light and really keep talking and make sure everybody is giving full effort. That’s what it’s all about, making sure everybody is showing up on every play.”

On whether or not you like that role:
“There’s no doubt. It’s been a little tougher. Anytime you have to worry about other people besides yourself. I wouldn’t change anything in the world. Everybody’s been great and everybody’s responded very well this season.”

On your role in helping in the development of right tackle James Carpenter:
“Well, it started coming into the season and over the summer, making sure he’s in the right place at the right time. It was obvious to us when he got here that he had the physical ability to be a player for us. We just tried to help him out with small things, hand placement, head placement because I don’t think he ran an offense similar to this in junior college. When you switch offenses like that, it’s hard to come in and start right away. Just helping him in that and making sure he’s in the right place in the right time, helping him with calls and stuff like that. He has done a great job of learning things and it’s really tailed off what he needed from me towards the end of the season. I really haven’t had to say as much to him and he ends up saying a lot to me before I get anything out of my mouth. He’s done a great job picking things up.”

On how your role has changed from last year to this year:
“It’s changed a whole lot. Last year, I was playing between Antoine and Andre (Smith) and I was at a new position and I tried not to mess things up because they were such great players and Antoine was such a great leader. I just tried to pay attention to what they were doing and making sure I was in the right place, worrying about myself. This year it’s kind of turned over, I’m comfortable with the offense we’re in. We’ve had the same offensive coordinator two years in a row now and that helps a lot and you get comfortable with the plays you’re running and you’re able to worry about more things than just yourself, being in the right place in the right time, you can help other people out. We’ve got new guys on either side of me that’s helped a lot.”

Senior nose guard Terrence Cody
On if it feels weird to be a nose guard and get all this attention you have gotten this year:
“Yeah, it is. Not a lot of nose guards get a lot of attention. We’re just there to clog up the middle and help the linebackers.

On if you like playing nose guard:
“Yeah, I enjoy it a lot. That’s why a lot of teams in the NFL are switching to a 3-4 and that’s going to help me out in the future.”

On playing in the Senior Bowl and how that experience will help you:
“It going to be a real good thing, it will be a good test because you’re going to be going up against pretty much the best in the nation. It will be a real good experience.”

On if you’ve improved on certain things this year:
“Yeah, I’ve improved. That main thing was rushing the passer. There are still some things I need to work on, but I think I improved a lot since last year.”

On Texas’ offensive line:
“They are real physical up front. They’ve got some big guys and they try to move you up front so they can create space and do stuff with the running backs. We just have to come out and try and dominate the line of scrimmage.”

On whether they remind you of any team you have faced:
“They are kind of like Florida. Their running style, their playing style, how their offense plays is kind of like Florida. They try and get you in space and run the ball and pass the ball.”

Senior linebacker Cory Reamer
On how you approach Colt McCoy:
“It’s the same with (Tim) Tebow, just try and keep him in the pocket and don’t let him run and when he does make sure our front line doesn’t run past him so that he really doesn’t have any place to run and if he does sneak out, we’ll have to find him and go get him.”

On working against McCoy in practice:
“We’ve seen it all season. We got a lot of practice with it with Tebow and we’re doing the same now. It’s nothing new to us. He’s got the same speed, maybe a little more speed than Tebow does, so it’s something that we’re going to have to be ready for in the game. We know he likes to use his feet if he has nowhere to throw, but not near as much as Tebow did. He’s a pocket passer and if he has to use his feet he can and he is very capable. It’s just something we have to get ready for.”

On Texas kickoff return team:
“The last few weeks of the season we really picked it up because that was a point of emphasis for us. We knew we were struggling giving up a lot of yards on kickoff returns and they were starting in very favorable field position each time and its difficult on defense to go out there and have to stop them from the 40 (yard line) because it’s pretty easy get in field goal position. Our guys have stepped it up and we made some changes with some personnel and stuff and it’s something we just have to keep improving on because they have some talented guys that can do a lot of damage returning the ball.”

On Terrence Cody’s personality:
“Ya’ll can tell, he’s a clown. He’s always goofing around, no matter what. In meetings and everywhere, he’s always got jokes going on. But when it’s time to play football, he’s a serious as everybody is, but he always makes jokes. He’s a character. You never know what you’re going to get with him. He’s just one of those guys that always has a smile on his face.”

On is this year is different from any other practices:
“No, not at all. We’re still doing the same things. We’re still getting after it like we always have. Coach Saban always does a good job of making sure that we are focused on each day of practice at a time and not looking forward to what’s ahead. It’s really not too much different. In the back of everybody’s mind, we all know what’s at stake and what we’re playing for but we’re just concentrating on getting better and making sure that we know what we’re doing each day.”

On whether you talk about what is at stake:
“No. We just worry about what today brings and make sure we fix what we messed up the day before.”