Nick Saban’s French, and previewing the Tennessee game


I’m sure you’ve seen this by now, (sorry for the delay in posting, but I’m recovering from baby shower week last week in Atlanta) but here is Nick Saban declaring what he thinks about stupid questions during Tennessee week. Saban said, “We’re worrying about the Heisman Trophy. Now, we’re worrying about playing Missouri rather than Tennessee some time down the road. I could give a $#@!& about all of that. Excuse my french. I mean come on. Let’s talk about the game.” The segment had made the media rounds including this morning’s ESPN Sportscenter. Video by WDEF.

Now, if you want to know more about Alabama’s game against Tennessee, here is the official transcript of Nick Saban’s press conference courtesy of UA Media Relations:
Head Coach Nick Saban Opening statement:
“There’s nothing really new about the last game other than the fact that I think the real key in the game was the way we won on the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball. We were able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and that was probably the difference in the game. I think the key for us is attention to detail, to get the little things right and corrected so that we can improve as a team and get some of the things corrected that we didn’t do exactly right. That’s going to be the key to us continuing to improve as a team. I liked the competitive spirit of our team, the readiness to play in that particular game. The most important thing is doing that with some kind of consistency. Consistency in performance is the key to success. We have to use every opportunity we can to improve so that we can do that.”

“We had some outstanding performances. Trent Richardson, obviously, was the SEC Player of the Week or offensive player of the week and had a fantastic game. Watching the film, the one run he made, the long one for a touchdown, there was a lot of guys who hustled and made a lot of blocks. They had us at the line of scrimmage, but he made a guy miss and it was a fantastic second effort on his part. AJ did a really good job in the game. Chance Warmack really played well up front. Defensively, Mark Barron and Nico Johnson did well. Special teams Dre Kirkpatrick and Vinnie Sunseri did well.”

“From an injury standpoint, we have a couple guys that probably won’t go full out today and are a little nicked up, nobody that we don’t expect to be able to practice tomorrow or throughout the week though. I told you after the game that Anthony Steen had a little concussion. Those things we test and when he gets back to normal, that’s when we will kind of let him go. We don’t think it’s that’s bad, but you never know how guys respond to those things.”

“I think that this game coming up is a game that’s really important from a tradition stand point to the University of Alabama. It’s important to a lot of people around here. Rivalry games are always games that you have to be ready for. I think we played this team two years ago here in a very similar circumstance and had to block two field goals to win, one being at the end of the game. Derek (Dooley) has done a really good job with this team. They have had some misfortune this year in terms of personnel, but they are really doing a good job, I think, with the players that they have in every phase of the game. Offensively they are very productive. They have a good passing offense, one of the best in our league. They have a good runner, who is the only runner that got over 100 yards against us for a while. They are creating more balance in their offense now that he is back. Defensively I think they are much improved from where they were a year ago. Their statistics kind of bear that out. They are a year older and they have some young guys playing, but those guys are really good players and they’ve done a really nice job on special teams. We have a lot of respect for this team and what they can do. We need to take care of our business so that we can take care of business.”

On the impact of the Heisman Trophy to the football program:
“I don’t think anybody was thinking about it. I don’t think anybody cares about it. I don’t think Trent [Richardson] cares about it. I think if you ask our players, and I don’t think about it either, it’s about ‘what do we have to do to help the team be successful? What do I need to do? What can I do?’ Our thoughts are completely different than your thoughts. Completely. So I don’t even know how to answer the question, to be honest with you. Trent is a great player. He’s one of the best players in the country. Whatever awards they give at the end of the season, he certainly should be considered for any and all of them that he qualifies for, but for right now, we’re thinking about what we need to do right now. We’re not even concerned about that stuff.”

On the progress Quarterback AJ McCarron has made after seven games:
“AJ’s played well for us. I think he’s improved in every game, and he’s done a really good job in managing the game. He did a great job of managing the game this week in terms of getting us in the right plays, getting to the line of scrimmage, showing good leadership. I think the players have confidence in him. We’re executing better as a group, and he’s certainly doing his part. We’re going to have to continue to be able to do that, but not turning the ball over, making good choices and decisions, having balance on offense, which is certainly something that is important to us being successful. He’s done a really good job.”

On how much the offense has progressed with AJ McCarron’s maturation:
“I think the offense is doing great. They’ve played better and better in each game. I think they’ve bailed us out on the road. Giving up big plays early on defense, and getting behind in games, and the key to those games is being able to control the ball and showing the maturity to come right back down the field and score. I think those things are critical to being successful. Some other time it might get turned around, but I don’t see our defense any more successful than our offense at this point. I think there are things that we need to improve on in special teams and there are certainly things that we can improve on offense and defense, but I think what makes a good team is you have strength and balance in both those areas, and I feel like our team has developed that way this year.”

On running back Trent Richardson’s 76-yard touchdown run:
“I really was sort of amazed at not only the ability to make the run, but also the tenacity and toughness that Trent played with the entire game, and he’ll be the first guy to talk about the offensive line, and probably all of the other yards that he gained. He gained some on his own, but they did a good job blocking those plays. They kind of had us on that play, and he made a great individual effort to make people miss, and that’s what great players do. You know they kind of make plays above and beyond. He certainly did that on that occasion.”

On if the defense needs a nickname:
“No, I don’t have any nicknames for them. I just want them to play better, not give up a 65-yard and a 59-yard pass in the beginning of the game, get off the field on third down. Eliminate the big plays, and continue to play the way we’re capable of playing and stay focused on what we need to do to improve as a team. I mean that is something that I guess people like you should be doing. I’ve got to give nicknames to stuff that we do during the game, so the other team doesn’t know what we’re doing. That’s about the extent of my imagination to come up with names.”

On if the personality of the defense if different than other defenses:
“I think there is always a combination when you have a good unit – offense, defense or anything. First of all, you got to have some togetherness. There’s got to be some chemistry. I think that we probably have that as a team, but certainly on the individual units on our team and on our defense. I think there’s also got to be a certain amount of physical toughness, sort of a competitive spirit, attitude, whatever, which I think is pretty good with this group. They’re all kind of responsible for making sure they do their job. You’re only kind of as strong as your weakest link, and I think that they have a lot of pride and everybody wants to go out there and try to do their job the best that they can. I think all the other players expect that as well, and they work hard. They’ve worked hard, and I think our team has worked hard.”

On offensive guard Chance Warmack’s progress over the past seven games:
“Well Chance has played better and better and better each week and probably just had his best game. He’s a very physical player. I think that our offensive line has really sort of improved, and as they’ve improved, we’ve improved as an offensive unit. Chance is a big part of that. We’ve just got to keep those guys going in the right direction, and I think we can have success offensively based on our ability to control the line of scrimmage and protect the passer and not let the other team affect the quarterback.”

On if there are things AJ McCarron is asked to do now that he was not asked to earlier this season:
“Whatever we’re asking him to do, he has been able to take it, and I think [Offensive Coordinator] Jim [McElwain] has done a good job of how he’s fed what he is capable of doing and that’s sort of accumulated as the season goes on. He’s done a really good job of it, but you know, we’ve got quite a few experienced players around, which I think is also helpful. There is a pretty good personality in that group. There’s good leadership, lots of stability, and I think that has been helpful, but I also think AJ has helped with his maturity, his leadership and the confidence of the other players around him have gotten in his ability to have the poise to do the things that he has been able to effectively do on a pretty consistent basis.”

On how wide receiver Darius Hanks and other return men handled Mississippi’s rugby-style punts:
“Well we didn’t make a lot of positive yards. I think when you put two guys back there, it’s not what you gain, necessarily, in terms of on the plus side, but what did you not lose because we counted over 20 yards per kick in the rugby-style, hitting the ground and rolling in field position. Twenty-plus yards per kick with people’s inability to get the ball fielded, and at least what we did that, and the reason we put Hanks back there, is because he’s a baseball player and you guys know I sort of favor baseball players and their judgment of how to play shortstop and all that kind of stuff. Not that it’s any reflection here, but he would make good judgments and decisions about being able to play the hops and play the ball and all that kind of stuff, and he did that. We saved a lot of field position by being able to get the ball fielded, even though we only had 12 or 13 yards in positive returns. We even had some opportunities that we could have had more yardage, but we saved a lot, so I was pleased with that part of what we did in the game.”

On what can be done to minimize the risk of punt return errors:
“Well we signal on the back end. The returner tries to signal to the guy with the guys running down the field who have their back to the ball to get out of the way. I disagree with the rule change that you used to be able to make that signal and still advance the ball. Now if you make that signal, you can’t advance the ball. Because it can’t be verbal, it has to be some kind of a hand signal. I don’t really agree with that. I mean a fair catch is a fair catch. Any other signal is defensive guys, people covering the kick ought to go cover the kick.”

On the contributions defensive lineman Nick Gentry has made:
“Well Nick really gives us a real presence inside in pass rush. He’s very quick and explosive. For the 15 or 20 plays he plays in about every game, his production has been really, really good. I think he complements the other players that we have extremely well. The things that he does well, some of our other guys don’t do quite as well. Those kinds of difference are what help us to be able to put together 18 or 20 guys that play a lot and contribute a lot on defense in different situations in the game, and they complement each other well. He has done a really, really good job of giving us a presence inside in pass rush. Some people think he’s not big enough to do that, but his quickness and explosive power has been a real asset for us.”