Alabama Press Conference Quotes Prior to Hosting Texas A&M

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Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening Statement:

”After reviewing the LSU game, it was a great job of the players showing a lot of competitive character, overcoming adversity, playing through a lot of tough situations in the game and playing in a tough atmosphere. Some of the situations we had to overcome we created with a bit of our lack of execution and mental errors, which are things that we definitely need to correct so that we can play with more consistency in the future. We have a really good opponent this week, so it’s going to be really important that our players put that game behind them, as emotional as it may have been. As I said afterwards, games like that can either bring out the best in you or the worst in you, and it’s all your choice in terms of how you view the future and what you need to do relative to the challenges that the next team presents, which is pretty significant in Texas A&M’s case. We had some players of the week: D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio did a great job and Kevin Norwood obviously had a very good game, being named SEC (Defensive) Player of the Week. Honorable mention, defensively, Adrian Hubbard who was a defensive player and Xzaiver Dickson. Special teams: Cody Mandell and Vinnie Sunseri. The only guy that will not practice today is Eddie Lacy, who should be ok by tomorrow. He’s just a little banged up. He has a twisted ankle, tweaked it a little in the game. We are hopeful that Amari Cooper didn’t reinjure himself. He was just a little sore. He’s going to be able to practice and be ready to go this week. Texas A&M is obviously a very good team. They only have two losses, both to top 10 teams by three and five points. They are one of the leading offenses in the country, certainly in our conference. Johnny Manziel is a terrific player who can do a lot of things and he creates a lot of plays, extends a lot of plays. He’s a great scrambler, a very effective passer there in the spread, no huddle and going fast. He does a really good job of executing it. They’ve got good receivers and good runners. They’ve got a really good offensive line. Defensively, they are very aggressive. They do a lot of stunning, blitzing and trying to load the box on you. They’ve done a good job in scoring defense. They are one of the highest ranked teams in special teams in the SEC and in several different categories. This is a very good team. It’s a totally different presentation in terms of what we have to defend and what we have to play against offensively. It’s going to take a lot of good focus and preparation on our part to come out and play a good game. We are looking forward to being at home. Hopefully our fans will give us a bunch of emotional support which our team certainly would appreciate.”

On how Marvin Shinn responded to playing in the second half with Amari Cooper out:

“I thought he did a really good job. He was open one or two times. One throw we missed him on. He did a good job. He’s come along and done a nice job for us all year long.”

On why Texas A&M comes out strong:

“I think it’s the up tempo; play fast. It probably gets people on their heels a little bit. It’s hard to simulate the tempo they play with in practice. That’s one of the most difficult things that the defense has to adjust to. They do a good job. They’ve got a really good offensive concept. They do a really good job of executing it. They’ve got balance, run and pass. They make a ton of big plays and it’s going to be important that we can get our players lined up and playing what they have to defend, which are quarterback scrambling, a very good passing game and ability to run the ball. There are a lot of keys, a lot of disciplined eye control in this game.”

On who’s going to play the part of Manziel on the scouting team this week:

“If we had somebody who could play that part, we’d play them. He’d be playing. Blake Sims will probably try and do it some, at least the running and scrambling part. We also have to prepare our team to do what we have to do. That’s the best we can do athletically at the quarterback position to look at that.”

On whether it was blown assignments or soft spots in the secondary that allowed LSU to throw effectively:

“We just didn’t do a very good job. We weren’t very aggressive and we didn’t play man-to-man coverage very well. We just didn’t play very well. The fact that we could not get off the field on third down in the second half, especially, I think they hit seven in a row in two scoring drives. We didn’t do a good job on third down offensively ourselves which was really a big part of the game. Even though they moved the ball, we still created a lot of third down situations. We could have gotten out of both drives if we could have gotten off the field on third down. That’s something that we need to address and certainly do a better job of. We didn’t cover them in man-to-man and we didn’t break on the ball enough in zone. Fundamentally, we didn’t play what we needed to play to be able to have success.”

On Texas A&M’s defense:

“Their defense is really good – they are very aggressive, they do a lot of different things, they run a lot of pressures. They are very, very aggressive in terms of loading the box and they are going to stop the run at just about all costs. They are just very, very aggressive. They have good players and have been pretty successful doing the things that they do.”

On the 24-hour victory rule this week:

“I think that is up to every player making a choice. I think that there are some obvious examples in this game that when you don’t do the right things, when you don’t pay attention to detail, there are going to be consequences for it. I think regardless of the outcome, players need to understand the importance of paying attention to detail and doing the little things right so that we can get those things fixed and we have to forget about this last game. We have to move on – I told the players that right after the game and I think they have a lot of respect for this team. It would be pretty difficult not to respect this team based on their body of work and what they have accomplished this season.”

On fullback J.C. Copeland’s play in Saturday’s game:

“He’s a very good blocker – he’s very physical, he’s a 275-pound fire-plug guy that’s hard to get leverage on. Obviously on the one pass he caught in the flat we couldn’t get him tackled, two guys missed a tackle and he ran for about 50 yards, which was a really big play in the game. I think the guy is probably as good of a blocker at his position as anybody in college football.”

On if Johnny Manziel reminds Coach Saban of any former opponents:

“I’ve been around longer than most, and most of our players can’t relate to this, but this guy reminds me of Doug Flutie. I played against him a long time ago, but he was a really good player and a really good competitor and that’s who this guy reminds me of. He can throw it, he’s not great big in stature or anything like that, he’s extremely quick, he’s very instinctive – has a unique ability to extend plays and seems to know when to take-off and run it. He scrambles and makes plays throwing the ball down the field. He doesn’t remind me of [Cam Newton or Tim Tebow] who were bigger, more physical, very athletic guys; this guy really doesn’t run a lot of quarterback runs. He runs quarterback draws, and he runs when it’s a pass and everybody gets all spread-out and [he] scrambles. The other guys were certainly capable of doing that, this is a unique guy in terms of his play-making ability, his size, quickness and speed and ability to make people miss in space.”

On Texas A&M’s tackles being the best tandem in the country:

“I can’t compare them to everybody else in the country but they are very, very good. Probably as a pair, as good as anybody we played this year.”

On recruiting true-tackles and if that poses a difficulty:

“I think it’s always challenging to find guys that have the size and range to play that position and are athletic enough to play on the edge, especially with some of the edge-rushers that we see. That’s probably one of the most challenging positions to find good players at.”

On the progression of Alabama’s offensive line this year:

“I think the offensive line has done a really good job for us this year. I think they did a good job in the last game. I just don’t think we were efficient enough in the passing game, we weren’t efficient enough on third down and we were a little inconsistent at times, not necessarily the offensive line, but in our ability to drive the ball and change field-position. Whether you score or not, but the three-and-outs, the negative plays on first down we can’t seem to overcome sometimes, but the offensive line has done a really good job. We have been really pleased with the job Barrett Jones has done at center, the leadership that he provides and the way that all five of those guys have played as a unit.”

On trying to prepare for Johnny Manziel:

“You just have to practice against scrambling. You have to practice scramble rules, matching patterns, trying to contain the guy in the pocket and push the pocket, because he doesn’t just run around you – he’ll step-up. Sometimes people think you can play that stuff better in zone, I guess we could have an argument about that, you have more eyes looking at him, but they aren’t taking the receivers when they start running all over the field, either. I just think you have to practice against it and create an awareness with your players of how to defend and I think the big thing is don’t give them explosive plays when they do it, that’s the real key to the drill. We have to put athletic people on the field, this is not a time to have a bunch of guys out there that can play two-gap on the nose and can’t move. People have to be athletic and they have to be able to move, playing against this team.”

On the pressure put on defensive backs because of Manziel’s play-making ability:

“I think it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. When you match patterns or when you play zone and match a pattern, and all of the sudden you have sort of taken the pattern away and now the guy scrambles and the pattern is not that pattern anymore. Guys have to know what the scramble rules are and play the guy in their area and hopefully relentless pursuit keeps the guy from being able to reset and get a good throw off. I think it’s a combination of all those things that are really important to playing against a scrambling quarterback.”

On helping the players cope with the stress that comes along with an intense game like the LSU game:

“We’re trying to get them to not think about that. We’re trying to get them to focus on the next play. Play every play in the game like it has a history and life of its own and focus on that and try to dominate the guy you are playing against and be a good competitor and not worry about outcomes. I think most fans, media, are really focused on outcomes, I mean we have been talking about who is going to get in the national championship game since July. You have to play every play. You have to play every game. You have to prepare that way. You can’t create a bunch of anxiety trying to worry about the result you get – it’s really about how you prepare and how you compete and how you compete on every play in the game. If there is something that our players did extremely well in this past game, it was just that. They kept playing, kept competing, and when they got an opportunity they were able to take advantage of it. Now our consistency and our performance for the other 58 minutes was probably not what we would have liked for it to be on a consistent basis, but they did do that. We try to get them to focus on preparation and what it takes to play well to get the result that you want, rather than worrying about the result you are trying to get.”

On punter Cody Mandell’s performance on Saturday:

“Cody did a really good job in this game. It’s probably as good a game consistency-wise that he’s had and it was really, really important because he did change field position on several occasions and that’s what he is capable of doing. He’s gotten more and more consistent, certainly couldn’t have happened at a better time for us in terms of him having an outstanding game.”

Player Quotes

#65, Chance Warmack, OL

On the LSU game:

“It was just a hard fought out game. They played hard and we played hard. At the end of the day it came down to the last minute, it could have gone either way. We met adversity, and I think we handled it pretty well.”

On offensive line performance on the final drive:

“I think we all put in our minds that we needed a special drive in order to win this game. The defense did a tremendous job in holding us off as much as they could and it was on us to execute and be efficient. We knew in our hearts and in our minds that we had to execute at least one time, and I think we did a good job. “

On Kevin (Norwood) down the stretch:

”Kevin is a fantastic receiver, he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. He always shows up in the hard times and in the clutch times. On Saturday he showed up, I called him Spiderman because he comes out of nowhere, he reminds me a lot of a Jerry Rice-type receiver. He is a hard worker and just continues to try and get better.”

On T.J. Yeldon in the final drive:

“T.J. is a humble guy, a very soft-spoken guy. He gets the job done all the time. Whenever he gets the ball, he’s looking to score. That was a tremendous job on his part to do what he did. That’s all him, all the credit to him. He continues to get better week-in and week-out.”

On AJ McCarron’s leadership:

He played a good role as a leader the whole game, to me. Beginning to end, start to finish. He told us going into the game to stay poised and stay calm, and whatever happens—whether it’s a three and out or whether we score a touchdown—come back on the sidelines and talk about what happened, and when it’s time to go back out there we execute again. He’s been a tremendous leader the whole season.”

On the upcoming game with Texas A&M:

“I’ve seen them play a few games on television. I haven’t watched a lot of film on them. They’re an upcoming team starting in the SEC that’s done a tremendous job. People had probably already counted them out in the beginning, but they’ve proved everybody wrong. We have to prepare for them just like any other team. They are a physical team as well. They have an outstanding quarterback, an outstanding defense, great coaches and a good program. We’re going to get ready for them.”

On playing at home after an away game:

“When we play a game like that, it really makes us appreciate what we have in terms of our teammates and our coaches and what this means to us. We got out of there with a win, and it just makes us appreciate the game more. I think coming into this next week, we’re going to play a lot harder and just strive to try to get better.”

#83 Kevin Norwood, Wide Receiver

On the win against LSU:

“That was definitely a tough one for us. As an offensive unit, we didn’t put a lot of points on the board. We felt like we left a lot of points out there. The defense played great and did their job. Towards the end, they got one more stop for us and the offense knew that we had to move the ball and we knew we had to put some points on the board.”

On what AJ was saying to him before the last drive of the LSU game:

“Just basically, he was saying that we needed to move the ball and we have to put some points on the board. I had to get open. In my mind, I had to get open. We do this two-minute drill every Thursday with crowd noise and everything. In a way, it kind of felt natural to move the ball. We just went after them.”

On the big plays that he made during the game:

“To me, I felt like I just did my job. Coach Saban trusts me to do my job and that is one thing that I take pride in, catching balls and making great plays for AJ. I want to help the team and help the offense move the ball down the field. It was something about that moment that was do-or-die. I might not get another chance so it was all in.”

On what it means to have been a part of “The Drive”:

“I know Alabama takes pride in their history and tradition. It is an honor for me to even be mentioned in that drive. It is going to be one of those things that you bring your kids and grandkids back and show them what you did. It’s an honor for me.”

On how facing adversity during the LSU game will help the team going forward:

“It’s going to be something that will help us out in the future. We knew we weren’t playing up to our ability during the beginning of the game. As a receiving core, we didn’t really get open for AJ and that is something that we have to work on. The rest of these games are going to be tough on us, especially Texas A&M. We know that they have a great defense and a great offense. If they put points on the board then our offense has to put points on the board too. It might not be a shootout, but it is going to be a great game.”

On coming back home to Bryant-Denny stadium:

“We have a great fan base. Our student section and the whole stadium just gets loud. LSU did a great job. It was tremendously loud. It will be great to be back home and have our fans behind us.”

#42 Adrian Hubbard, Linebacker

On the win against LSU:

“At times we didn’t execute plays the way that we wanted to. The outcome came out in our favor because we responded to adversity in the right way.”

On how Zach Mettenberger’s play helped LSU move the ball:

“Mettenberger played probably one of the best games. He is a good quarterback and he stepped up in the big time. Big time players are going to step up in big time games and he did that.”

On stopping LSU on the last drive:

“In my mind, when we turned over the ball, and we came on the field I was just hyping up the offensive guys telling them that we had their back. Don’t even worry about it. We are going to get you the ball back. We got them the ball back and they handled the rest.”

On what it was like as a defensive player to watch the offensive team drive down the field:

“We see that every day in practice. Coach Saban has us practice every game plan, every situation that could possibly happen in the game. That situation popped up and AJ and the offense executed it well.”

On if he was surprised to see the offense score the game winning touchdown:

“I never had doubt my teammates.”

On T.J. Yeldon:

“T.J. keeps continuing to prove that he can play at this level, and he is playing well at this level. He is going to keep playing well at this level.”

On Hubbard’s performance during the game:

“My performance came off of my teammates. Like I always say, the plays happened to come our way and when they didn’t, I did my job as well as my other teammates and everyone did their job and everyone made plays this game. I was blessed and fortunate to make the plays that I did.”

On what it was like to play LSU in Death Valley:

“It was a hostile environment. It is probably one of the loudest stadiums I’ve played at in my career.”

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