Here is video from WIAT of Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s Monday press conference. Below is a transcript of Saban’s press conference courtesy of UA Media Relations:
The Vanderbilt game was a tale of two teams. We didn’t play very well in the first half. I think this is probably a pretty good example of how average you can be when you don’t do things the way you need to do them – finish plays, finish blocks, make mental errors, don’t tackle well. Most of that stuff comes from the mental intensity that you have going into the game, but I was really pleased with the way the team responded at halftime.
(We) played much, much better in the second half and did a really good job. (We) went three and out, took a 94-yard drive to score, which was pretty dominant on our players’ part. (We) responded pretty well and played really well in the second half.
Obviously, not turning the ball over is real critical. Getting a couple of turnovers in the second half was really good. We threw the ball pretty effectively in the game and didn’t have a lot of negative plays. That’s something that we need to continue to work on as a team. We’ve got to eliminate some of the mistakes, especially early, as a team so that we can execute and get a good start.
(Marquis) Maze did a good job with the catches that he had. Brad Smelley, (Michael) Williams, both those guys did a great job of blocking. Defensively, Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower had lots of production points. Special teams, Cade (Foster) and DeQuan Menzie both did a pretty good job on special teams.
From an injury standpoint, C.J. Mosley will start back practicing today. Eddie (Lacy) probably (will start) tomorrow. Chris Jordan, we’re going to try again and see what happens. I think Arie (Kouandjio) may be out indefinitely, and may even be a guy that needs to have surgery, so he could possibly be out for the year.
This is going to be a very challenging game for us. We’ve had some really tough games with these guys over the years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Houston Nutt and the kind of coach that he is, the way he utilizes the personnel that he has. They certainly played their best game of the year in their last game against Fresno State. They have a lot of talented players. They have a lot of returning starters on offense. They’re actually playing better on defense from the standpoint of not giving up as many points. They have been really good on special teams. They’ve had some big plays, punt returns. I think they’re leading the nation in punt returns, and it’s because of the explosive skill guys that they have.
(Randall) Mackey was the quarterback in the last game, which is a little different style than what they had before, and they seemed to play pretty well from that standpoint. I think Houston Nutt is one of the best coaches in our league and has done a really good job wherever he has been, and I think he’s doing a really good job with this team so far.
On the relationship between center William Vlachos and defensive tackle Josh Chapman: Both guys have been very, very productive players here for a long time, and I think that probably both of them would tell you that they have a tremendous amount of respect for the other guy, because they have practiced against each other their entire careers here, and they both have probably made the other guy a better player because they’re both pretty good at what they do. They’re great competitors, and they challenge each other. Both guys have some leadership qualities about them and some leadership skills to affect other people. I think who they are probably has made both much better at what they do.
On the importance of not turning the ball over: I think it’s really important. I think we put the ball on the ground a couple of times late in the game this past week, but that’s something we cannot do – any place that we play. I think making good choices and decisions is very critical. Everybody having ball security awareness is very, very important and is something that we emphasize a lot, and especially after the first game, we really emphasized it. The players have responded, and we have not turned the ball over, so that’s something that we need to continue to pay attention to detail on because I think turnover ratio is a critical factor, the most critical factor, statistical factor, in winning and losing.
On how coaches teach players to not turn the ball over: Well, we tell them to take what the defense gives you. You don’t throw the ball into tight coverage, and you don’t throw the ball places where it shouldn’t be, and you’ve got to be patient. If you have to throw a check-down, throw a check-down. Our guys have done a pretty good job of that. AJ [McCarron] has done, for the most part, a pretty good job of putting the ball into the right place. That’s what we coach. I don’t think anybody coaches turnovers, but it comes down to judgment. I don’t know of any baseball managers that teach guys to swing at balls out of the strike zone, but some guys do it a lot more than others, and it comes down to judgment. Ball security is an awareness fundamentally that every player that handles the ball has to have so that we don’t have turnovers.
On how a deep touchdown pass may have helped quarterback AJ McCarron’s confidence: You ought to ask him, you know, when you get a chance. I know I don’t make him available to you, but I’m sure it helped his confidence. I didn’t ask him, and I really don’t know. I think it really helped DeAndrew White’s confidence to catch a couple of balls in the game, and I think anytime you have a productive performance and a positive performance it helps guys with their confidence, but the most important thing is that they continue to believe and do the things that they need to do to play winning football at their position. Hopefully, making those kind of plays are things we can do in the future by making good choices and decisions about when we try and get it in there.
On what was said to the team at halftime: Well, I probably got after them about as good as I’ve done all season, and they responded. It’s like everything else you do. If it works, it was right. If it doesn’t work, it wasn’t right. So whatever we did worked because the players responded. But it’s really more about them, than about what I did. We try to be positive with our guys. I believed that they would respond, and they did.
Here is a transcript of Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt’s Monday press conference courtesy of SEC Media Relations and Ole Miss Media Relations:
We really took advantage of the open week. I thought our guys worked really hard. We came back yesterday with an extended practice and everyone was back ready to go and in good spirits. When we turned on the film, like we had been doing this past week, you’re looking at one of the best teams in the country. Defensively, there have been very few teams that have been able to move the ball against Alabama. They have outstanding quickness and toughness. They fly around to the ball, create problems and cause turnovers. We are excited about this opportunity. This is one of the best Alabama teams to have been around in a while.
On the Crimson Tide defense: They do such a good job giving you so many different looks, especially the secondary. They give Courtney Upshaw the name Jack. Coach Gruden calls those guys jokers because they are good at all hands. He can rush in, drop, move and do so any things. You have to know where he is located. Their secondary does so many good things with man coverage and giving you the perceptions that it is going to be man coverage, and then they trade off on crossing routes. You think it is going to be a big play and all of the sudden the corner lets them go to the next zone. They jump off and hit the crossing route right in the mouth. It is those things, like when they dial up blitzes at good times and keep you off balance that make them good. Nick Saban has gotten so much more of the package in and it is difficult to game plan against them. You can say he is just a okie, or just a 4-3 cover two, not so fast. There is a lot of variety so it is just tough. The main thing they do is stop the run. When you watch these teams they try but it doesn’t happen. It is an awfully good scheme and it is a multiple of schemes with good people.
On A.J. McCarron: He is not turning the ball over. That is number one. He is doing an excellent job of taking care of the ball. It helps when your best friend is Trent Richardson. He takes a lot of the pressure off. They pick and choose their spots with him. He doesn’t force it or make errors and throw it to the other team. The number one thing he does so well at quarterback is protect the ball. It is the most important thing you have and that is what he does.
On Alabama’s running backs: Eddie Lacy is a big back. They have hard-nosed running backs. Trent is really hard to bring down. He does an excellent job of breaking tackles. It helps that they have a good offensive line and they are working well together.
On being an underdog: I always try to be as honest as I can with our guys. I thought last week we got better as a football team. From Fresno State on we got better. That is what is important. Everyone has a responsibility to get better. Whether you are playing against the Green Bay Packers or Alabama, there is not much difference. You have to play extremely hard and eliminate mistakes. That is what we have been putting our emphasis on. We want to get better, eliminate mistakes and have a tremendous attitude. We have a great opportunity.
On being more physical: You only go by how you practice. I thought we really challenged them hard. We had three very good physical days last week. Yesterday was the same way. They responded each day. They are trying to get better. They know they have to tackle better and wrap Trent Richardson up, because he is a Heisman Trophy candidate. He breaks a lot of tackles on film.
On Mike Marry: He has a tremendous heart and attitude. He has to wear a boot for the first part of the week each week and somehow gets back and is ready to go again by Thursday or Friday. We were kidding that how we would like to see what he is like at full speed. He has a lot of character. There is nothing like the heart he has.
On Alabama: This is a better team than the last few years because of their depth and what they do on defense. They haven’t given up many explosive plays and plays over 20 yards. They do an excellent job of not letting you cross that last white line. They are good tacklers. Their secondary is awfully physical. Their front has always been physical, their linebackers are always tough, but their secondary are good tacklers. They enjoy contact and don’t mind getting up in your face and competing each play. They are a solid football team.