Alabama practiced indoors Wednesday, and Nick Saban spoke to the press. Enjoy.
Alabama Works Indoors (courtesy of UA)
TUSCALOOSA – The Alabama football team worked for two hours in full pads Wednesday afternoon, wrapping up its fourth practice of the week and ninth overall in preparation for the BCS National Championship Game against Texas.
The Crimson Tide worked inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility on Wednesday as a steady rain fell throughout the day in Tuscaloosa.
No. 1 Alabama (13-0, 8-0 SEC) and No. 2 Texas (13-0, 8-0 Big 12) will meet 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.
“We’ve had three really good practices these last practices after we’ve gotten back and a got the Christmas hangover out of them,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after Wednesday’s practice. ‘We practiced really well today. We had to go inside. We feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to go outside as much as we have been able to go out. To get two days in this week, it could have been a lot worse. We go two days in pads and one day in shells, so tomorrow will be a shell day for us. Tomorrow will be our last practice before we travel out there on Friday.
Junior left tackle James Carpenter has practiced the last two days after missing Monday (illness). Senior cornerback Marquis Johnson, who had also been sick, has practiced each day despite a thumb injury.
“Everybody was back in practice today,” Saban added. “James Carpenter was back and is not sick anymore. Marquis did everything in practice, so we really didn’t have any problems from that standpoint.”
Alabama will hold its final on-campus practice Thursday, Dec. 31, before departing for California on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. The team will begin normal game-week preparations on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010.
Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban Press Conference Transcript
On how you managed time during the long layoff between games:
“Well the players have been really pretty good about it. I think they’re excited to have the opportunity to play in this game. I think everybody’s sort of got to change their mindset a little bit, because by this time after 13 games, you’re really kind of used to this is what you do on Monday, this is what you do on Tuesday, this is what you do on Wednesday, this is what you do on Thursday and then you go play a game. We’ve gone through two of those blocks of time in preparation for something, but then there’s never a game. I think you have to sort of work your way back into it because you’ve had a significant amount of time off. I think these last two days, I really feel like our team is sort of back, moving like they should, being able to sustain, guys look fast and quick and they kind of went through that run them down a little bit, get tired, give them some days off, bounce back and sort of go through it again and then you’re sort of where you need to be. It is a long time not to have a game. I do think you want, especially emotionally and psychologically, physically is a different thing and what we’ve been focusing on to this point is try to get them back physically to where they need to be. I think emotionally you sort of want to get right for the game when the game comes. We still have quite a bit of time until the game, more than we’ve had for just about any other game that we’ve had played this year, except a bye-week game. Even though we’ve worked quite a bit on what Texas does and all that, that’s just technically what we need to do to have success in the game and that’s what we want to try and continue to work on.”
On Colin Peek’s performance as a receiver:
“Well you know, Colin had a very significant role in the passing game early in the season. I think somewhere in the middle, and I don’t remember exactly which games, he got injured and missed a couple of games. We missed him a little bit and when he came back, he really came back with guns a’ blazing and has made some really big plays for us. They way people play us outside, it is probably a good thing that we have a really good pass-receiving tight end because he has good hands, is a good athlete and very smart as a player and knows how to get open.”
On the receiving unit as a whole, especially Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks:
“I think that I’ve mentioned this on several occasions this year, I thought the improvement of those guys that you mentioned, certainly the attitude they played with, the character and competitive spirit they play with, not only in terms of how many passes they caught, but our receivers this year have done a better job of blocking, playing with better toughness and each of them has made significant plays in some game somewhere along the line that were critical to the outcome of the game, every one of those guys. I think that’s what you want. I think they all have a little bit different role that they play, but together as a group they make a very complete group in my opinion and they’ve done an outstanding job for us all year. I think that’s one of the biggest differences in this year’s team and last year’s team offensively, is we have more players who can make plays, are confident that they can make plays and do make plays, including the tight end and least three receivers in the receiving corps that have been pretty consistent about it all year long.”
On looking back at preseason, were there any unknowns they came together during the season:
“I think you always sort of have questions and concerns about your team every year. There is always going to be some area of your team that you are trying to rebuild. It’s always going to create opportunities for other players on your team and you never know for sure how that group is going to come together or how those young players are going to respond. The offense line was always sort of something that we talked about. Seldom did we have any kind of media gathering where somebody didn’t ask about the concern they had about the quarterback position. There weren’t always a lot of questions about the defense because there were a lot of guys coming back on the defense. Now next year, I’m sure there will be a lot of questions about that because there’s going to be lots of opportunities for other guys to play, relative to who leaves the team. I think you always have that in college. Your team is always changing and you really want to develop and you’re always going to have those questions and you have those questions throughout the course of the year when you lose a significant player for a game, or for a season, or for several games. Just like we’ve had opportunities when we mentioned Peek missing (games), Michael Williams did a really good job. Dont’a Hightower has missed (9 games) and we had three or four guys that have sort of filled in various roles that he had, but they were question marks at the time. I think you always have that on your team. It’s sort of ever-evolving and ever-changing and I feel like we’ve been very fortunate this year that just about in every opportunity that was created somebody stepped up to the challenge and the other players on the team sort of helped them do the things they needed to do in order to be able to fulfill their role and responsibility to the team. But, you always have those questions.”
On what makes Alabama and Texas the top two defenses against the run:
“I don’t really know why. First of all, I think they have good players and I think we have good players and it starts with that. I think in both cases those players are pretty well coached in terms of how they play in the scheme that they play and what they do and there are some similarities in the backgrounds and all that, but I don’t think that’s what makes it that way. I think it’s the fact that they do a really good job of coaching their players. Will (Muschamp) does a really good job. I don’t know everybody else on their staff and he’s done that just about every place he’s been and they have very good players. Their players play hard, they play with a lot of toughness and they play with a lot of discipline and doing what they’re supposed to do, so the scheme works well for them. There could be a totally different system and scheme that somebody ranks just as highly, or does just as well in, because they are coached well in that particular system and scheme and their players have the same qualities because they’ve responded to the things they need to do to play well as a unit. Their guys have and it’s probably because it’s the good job they’ve done, they have good players and those players play well together.”
On this game being more of a business trip and not so much a bowl game with all the festivities:
“I think the whole trip is set up a little bit differently. I don’t think there are a lot of activities for the players on the trip, it is a bowl trip, but it is a business trip. Every bowl trip we’ve taken, we’ve tried to create a balance between the business side of it and playing well and actually the players getting some opportunity to get some reward for their accomplishments for the year, in terms of what they are allowed to do. I don’t think our players, here in Tuscaloosa with nothing else to do right now, this is just me, and I might be wrong, think about this game, 24-7. Now, maybe some of you all do, but I don’t think they do. When they come here they think about it and focus really well and are concerned about doing their job. Some of them spend extra time doing all that stuff, but they still have a life to live and other things that are important, their families and all that kind of stuff. I think what I’m concerned about is when we are doing something as a team that they’ve got their gas tank ready to go emotionally, physically and mentally to do what they need to do to be able to play their best football game. That’s what we’ve talked about all along and each guy’s got to manage that. I told you once before I drew a line on the board after the SEC Championship Game and said its 32 days until we play in the National Championship Game and how every one of you guys manage that is going to determine how well you play. Not just practice, how well you take care of yourself, how well you rest, the kind of shape you stay in, how you work out between now and then, how you practice, how you prepare yourself mentally to play in the game. Everybody’s got to make those decisions no matter what we do we can’t make them do it. If guys are going to go jump in the middle of the ocean, they’ve got free time, you can tell them I’d rather you not do that. Most of them respond to what you want them do, but it’s still there choices and decisions and that usually comes from how important is it to them. So far, I think everybody has responded that this is important to them and they are looking forward to the opportunity that they have created for themselves in this game.”