Alabama’s Saban, Milroe Make Case
Transcript Courtesy ASAP Sports
After Alabama beat Georgia 27-24 for the Tide's record 30th SEC title, Nick Saban along with Jalen Milroe and Dallas Turner met with the media.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take an opening statement.
NICK SABAN: I think I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of guys on a team that has come so far from where we were second, third game of the season. I think this is a great example for a lot of people who want to be successful in terms of the perseverance that these guys showed, the character they had to overcome adversity, the resiliency that they played with.
They're truly a team. Everybody's together. Everybody trusts and respects the principles and values of the organization and program and buy into them. They're all responsible for their own self-determination, which means they can go do their job.
So I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of guys, the progress that they made, the way we compete.
That's the end point that says you really got where you wanted to go, you were able to go out there and compete in a game, play for 60 minutes, which it took all 60 minutes, and to win the SEC championship, which is in my opinion really, really significant.
I know you're going to ask me, so I might as well just get to it. Having anticipation is something that's important to being a good coach. Not that I think I'm a good coach (smiling).
If we needed to do something to pass the eye test, I guess that probably contributed to it significantly. If you really want the four best teams to compete, the four most deserving teams that have progressed throughout the season. We're not the same team we were when we played Texas. We're not the same team when we played South Florida.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.
NICK SABAN: I disagreed with them before. I disagreed last year. So I'll respect 'em. I know they have a tough job. I know there's a lot of good teams.
But I'm just speaking up for our guys on our team who have busted their butt all year long to accomplish what they've accomplished. I think that needs to be recognized.
JALEN MILROE: The biggest thing as players that we can do best is be coachable. Coach Saban, the biggest thing I want to do is be a sponge for all information because end of the day all of our coaches are pushing us to be successful.
NICK SABAN: I think our coaches did a fantastic job with these players. Fantastic job of helping guys develop and improve. I really appreciate our staff of people who contributed to the success of this team. It's not about me. It's about everybody on the team who contributed to the success of this team: players and coaches alike.
Q. Jalen, you guys get the ball back, they cut it 20-17, all the momentum was on Georgia's side, what is going through your mind? How do you stay calm to engineer the drive?
JALEN MILROE: Singular focus. That's the biggest motto we had going into the game, singular focus and doing our job.
It's all about response. The biggest thing that we have on this team that contributes to any success is the FAMILY acronym: Forget about me, I love you. I think we do a really good job about that. It was about singular focus each and every drive.
DALLAS TURNER: The main thing that Coach Steele has instilled in us is holding us accountable every day in practice, having the right practice habits, going in practice how you play. Everything that we do before the games, everything, it's just all a display of what we do in practice. You just practice how you play.
NICK SABAN: I can't say it exactly came from that game. We watch almost every game the team plays the whole season. You're always looking for things that people had success against 'em, things that created issues for them.
Q. A year from now the likes of Georgia and Alabama, even Texas, will be playing for seeding probably in this type of game, maybe even for a bye. Can this moment ever be like this where it's so intense, so much on the line? The SEC championship is important, but we're kind of at the end of an era tonight.
But I think when we have 12 teams, you all still will make a case for 12 more. That's kind of your job (smiling). Just like the basketball tournament. I mean, how many teams they put in, 68? Then you have a two-hour show on who else should have got in or who got in that shouldn't. That's always going to be. That's part of it. That's what you do to create interest, which I appreciate.
NICK SABAN: Other than the one big play that we gave up, we didn't play well early. The first drive, we were sort of out of sorts. We settled down and played pretty well. We gave up the one big play over on their sidelines, which led to a field goal. Then we got really bad field position on the punt return. It wasn't a very good punt. Guy did a good job. Put two returners back so they could get the ball fielded. They hit us.
Q. And Kool-Aid?
NICK SABAN: Kool-Aid has a concussion. He goes in concussion protocol. We'll figure out how bad it is, how long it takes, when he'll be clear. All the testing mechanisms that we have right now I think are really beneficial to players not getting multiple concussions.
Q. A couple of weeks ago you said this team has been taking years off of your life. The last couple weeks, have they done anything to help you find the fountain of youth, especially with tonight's win?
Q. Jalen, this team has been talked about today as improved so much in the season. You felt like people kicked you to the curb. Now that you won the SEC title, do you have like some of that doubt it still out there?
We have to acknowledge the journey we've been on. I can only be just complimentary of the guys in the locker room because end of the day when people doubted us, we continued to work hard. We just trusted in the coaching staff to continue to push us each and every day. We have a good leader like Dallas here right next to me that pushes the offense as we compete on the practice field.
Q. Coach and Jalen, Isaiah Bond had four of his five catches on that last touchdown drive. Talk about the way he's been so clutch this entire year, specifically against Auburn and tonight.
JALEN MILROE: Contribute it to practice habits. When you practice well at practice, we implement different things you can do in the game. I think that's the biggest thing that correlates to the game, is how well he practices.
He plays with a lot of speed. Also, he does well with the game plan. So Coach Rees just game plans very well with I.B. He continues to work hard. He's a great resource for our offense to keep us goinNICK SABAN: He's been great all year. I think the one word that I would say is he's very consistent in practice as well as the game. If you're a quarterback, you want to be able to trust your guys, that they're going to run the right route at the right depth at the right time and show up at the right place. He does a great job of that. He's got great speed, so that's always helpful.Q. Dallas and Jalen, what would be your message to the committee about why you deserve to be in the Playoff, or do you let what you did on the field do the talking?
DALLAS TURNER: Honestly, I don't even like to talk too much. I just like to perform on the field. Clearly we had a very good game tonight, a very big win. We just let our playing do the talks for ourselves.
At the end of the day, that's out of our reach. Biggest thing we got to do is trust the process, keep getting better. But we beat the best team in the nation considerably, so what do I consider us?
Q. Can we see the dance, one? Two, the play of Trey Amos, the opportunity that he had?
NICK SABAN: He's been playing for us all year. Trey has been playing in dime all year long. We consider him a starter. When we moved Terry on the star and play him on third down, he's done a really good job. He did a really good job tonight.
He's been playing for us all year, but we have a lot of confidence in him. He did a really good job tonight.
I can't remember two questions at a time.
Q. Can we see the dance?
NICK SABAN: Oh, no (smiling). Bad... It's bad. I mean, ask them. It's bad.
Q. We sat in here two years ago and talked about yummy rat poison. How does it taste this year? Has there been a value of external factors getting into the team?
NICK SABAN: I think that's an interesting point that you bring up because one of the motivating factors for this team all year long is they wanted to prove who they were because of the criticism that they got.
Now, this validates. Winning the SEC, beating Georgia, the No. 1 team, kind of validates who they are.
The next challenge is how do you deal with success, how do you deal with success? That will be the next challenge for this team because I think, I agree with Jalen, that we should acknowledge the fact and celebrate the fact that we won the SEC championship. That's significant.
But now, if we have an opportunity to do something else, what's going to be our internal motivation to want to continue to be successful?
Q. Coach, you discussed the value of the tight end in that matchup. What did you do today to minimize No. 19, Brock Bowers, of Georgia?
NICK SABAN: After the first drive, we played almost all split safeties. The one McConkey caught to the one-yard line, we were in the middle-of-the-field coverage. Middle-of-the-field coverage didn't do us much good today. That's where we played in that first drive, so we played split safeties the whole time.
When you do that, you get more guys, somebody under him, somebody over him, somebody banging on them, and you're not covering them one on one.
But to do that, you got to be able to stop the run. Our guys did a really good job with all that split safety stuff of stopping the run today so we could play it.
We went into the game thinking we couldn't play it. But after the first drive, I said, Can't get any worse, let's just start playing it, because that was the plan. That was the plan that we wanted to take 'em away. The guys did a good job of executing it.
Q. Could you speak a little bit about the progression of Emmanuel Henderson as a player over this year.
NICK SABAN: Emmanuel has really developed nicely as a receiver. He's got great speed. He really didn't play that position in high school, so sometimes it takes those guys a little longer to develop the confidence, the skill set. But he has done a phenomenal job.
He's been a good special teams player for us. He got hurt early in the season so he missed some time or he would have been a much more significant -- would have made a much more significant impact I think this year. But he's been very valuable for us all year long.
THE MODERATOR: Coach and players, congratulations. Thank you for attending and appreciate everybody being here.
NICK SABAN: Thank you. I do appreciate what you all do. You create a lot of interest. I know sometimes I get criticized for being a guy that doesn't like the press, but I really do like you. I like what you do.
You do a lot to give our players a lot of positive self-gratification, and you also create a lot of interest in our game. I think that's important. So thank you for that.
Alabama will learn its Playoff fate at 11 AM CT Sunday on ESPN.
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Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison