Nick Saban’s Postgame Press Conference After Win Over Western Carolina [VIDEO]
Alabama coach Nick Saban was a little calmer than expected after a up-and-down performance at times against FCS school Western Carolina Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1 SEC) trailed 7-0 early and led the Catamounts (7-5) by only three as late as the halfway point in the second quarter but scored 31 unanswered points to end the game, including 21 by halftime, to win 48-14.
Alabama had six starters -- Amari Cooper, Cam Robinson, A'Shawn Robinson, Brian Vogler, Jalston Fowler and ArDarius Stewart -- leave the game with injuries. Fowler returned, but the remaining five did not. Saban said during his halftime interview on the SEC Network and during his postgame press conference that Cooper, Cam Robinson and A'Shawn Robinson all could have returned to the game if needed. Vogler and Stewart sustained the most serious injuries, both stretching knee ligaments that leave them questionable for next week against Auburn.
T.J. Yeldon (ankle), DeAndrew White (hamstring) and Adam Griffith (undisclosed) did not play in the game due to avoid reoccurring injury issues. Denzel Devall also did not play after sustaining an ankle injury in practice on Thursday.
To hear Saban's entire postgame press conference, watch the video above. Scroll down on the page to read partial transcripts provided by Alabama Athletics for both Alabama and Western Carolina.
Head Coach Nick Saban
“I don’t think that we started the game out the way we’d hoped to or how we planned. We wanted to maintain focus, and I thought the players did a really good job all week of practicing well and preparing for the game. It’s really up to me to make sure that the guys have the right psychological disposition when we come out and play a game. We just didn’t have much energy in the beginning of the game, and just didn’t have much energy and enthusiasm in pregame. As the game wore on, I thought our guys played better. I was proud of the way they competed throughout. Their (Western Carolina’s) players did a really good job in the game. They had a really good plan and did a really good job of executing it.
“It’s a good win for us. A lot of guys got to play, which is a good thing, because we haven’t had a lot of games this year where we’ve been able to play a lot of players. We obviously didn’t play some guys today while trying to get them well. T.J. Yeldon, DeAndrew White and Griff (Adam Griffith) probably could’ve played in the game if they had to, but we chose not to play them so they wouldn’t keep having reoccurring problems. We tried to use this as a window to get them healthy. Coop (Amari Cooper) just has a bruised knee. He could’ve gone back in the game and played – we don’t have a problem with him. A’Shawn Robinson has an ankle sprain and should be okay. Cam Robinson has an ankle sprain and should be okay. (Brian) Vogler and (ArDarius) Stewart both have stretched knee ligaments and are probably the guys that will be most questionable. Denzel Devall had an ankle (injury) in practice on Thursday. We held him out of the game and hopefully he’ll be back. That’s kind of the injury report.
“At this time of the year, other people have opportunities and need to step up. I thought some of the receivers did a really nice job. I thought Jake (Coker) did a really good job in there. We got to play a lot of defensive players, so it was a really good game from that standpoint.”
On reserve players that stood out in the game today:
“We played a lot of guys. Chris Black had some catches. I thought Tyren Jones did a good job of running the ball when he had the opportunity. Altee (Tenpenny) did okay, too. I already mentioned Jake (Coker) as a guy that did a good job. Robert Foster got to play a little bit; he’s got ability and he’s been making a lot of improvement. On the defensive side, we probably played more players all year long. It was good to get those guys some opportunities. I know a couple of those guys got sacks -- No. 56 (Tim Williams) and No. 62 (Josh Frazier). That was really good for them. I thought those guys did a pretty good job when they went in the game, in terms of the way they executed.”
On keeping players focused on the game at hand and not looking forward:
“I obviously don’t have the answer to that question, so it’s more difficult than what I can figure out. We were as flat as a pancake when we went out there today, so I didn’t do a very good job. I really thought our guys practiced pretty well all week and didn’t look at this game as if, they really tried to keep focus. They tried to keep the momentum of what we’ve been doing going. But when we went out there for pregame warm-ups today, I was really surprised that we didn’t have a little more energy and a little more juice than we did. We had to play our way into it.”
#1 Chris Black, Wide Receiver
On how the offense played and got into a rhythm:
“I think we did a pretty good job. I think the coaches are proud of how we kind of got things together after a while. Overall, I think everybody did great.”
On his first 100-yard game at Alabama:
“It feels great. I haven’t done that since high school, so it’s definitely something to be proud of and something to build on.”
#5 Cyrus Jones, Defensive Back
On overcoming adversity after an early Western Carolina score:
“I just think it all comes with preparation. I just don’t think we prepared for those guys as we should have, and we didn’t do a good job of focusing on the opponent at the time. We got a lot of guys banged up, so it’s just important this week of practice to get everyone healthy and be ready to play Saturday.”
On focus and preparation for next week’s matchup with Auburn:
“It’s no secret how big of a game this is for us – the tradition, the whole community. It’s just big for us to come in and prepare like we are supposed to, to come out and put a good effort on the field.”
WESTERN CAROLINA QUOTES
Head Coach Mark Speir
“Well, first of all, congratulations to Alabama. What a first-class organization. It starts right with the governor in this state, Robert Bentley-just a classy man-all the way down to the highway patrolmen, to everybody involved with this program and this state. People at The University of Alabama and the state of Alabama, do things right. There’s a reason why they’re No. 1 in the country, and I know the Catamounts wish them all the best in their efforts to win a National Championship.
“Coach Saban’s built a dynasty, and we got a lot of respect for that. We try to emulate a lot with what he does philosophy-wise. Congratulations to The University of Alabama. I wish them the best of luck and hope all their players are okay.
“As far as Western Carolina, I’m so proud of our football team. This has been a program that the last 20 years has been at the rock bottom. We have a group of seniors that have stuck it out through coaching changes and all, and to be able to win seven games: that’s the first time that’s happened, that’s only the 12th time in 84 years of history, 12th time a Catamount team has won seven. First time I believe since 1986 that a Western Carolina team has finished second in the conference, in the Southern Conference. So, that’s little bit about our where our program’s been. I’m proud of our guys to be able to come and battle the way our guys did the first half and take that opening drive and score. There’s a point there where you look up in the second quarter and you’re at the No. 1 school in the country, and its 17-14 and our guys are just battling. I’m just so proud of this group of men. I sat in the hotel this morning watching a bunch of guys that sit behind these microphones saying that FCS shouldn’t play a game like Alabama. There’s one guy, Coach Corso, he’s been here. That guy was the only guy that talks about an FCS playing Alabama. They’re a great school and because they played Western Carolina today, they’re still a great school, and they’re still going to win a National Championship.
“These fans were rocking today and there’s a little ole FCS school here. These kind of games, there’s Troy Mitchell, our quarterback, he got 93 yards today and became the single-season, total-yardage, career leader on the season for us. A guy from Mobile, Ala. Being quite honest, coming in the game, I didn’t know if we’d get 93 yards with him. But, how special is that going to be? That guy wouldn’t have got to go to college, get an education – and remember this – if you don’t play schools like Alabama. I hope we got Alabama ready to play for Auburn because we’re a similar kind of offense. I take it personal when they say that this is an embarrassment. Coach Saban had a lot of great things to say before and after the game about FCS playing the big boys. Alabama needed this game. Like I said, whether they win or lose, Alabama, I think those fans had a good time today. I’m just proud of FCS football. I’m proud of our football team, and I hope America doesn’t listen to a guy who sits behind a mic, who hadn’t ever done it. And guys get an education playing games like this. And playing games like this, we battled our butts off. Playing games like this, it gives people an opportunity to go to college and have a great memory. Troy (Mitchell) sits there and sets a record today at The University of Alabama. You tell me that isn’t special. I’ll get off my soapbox.
“I’m proud of our football team. I wish The University of Alabama luck, they’re classy people. You got a governor, who until the employment rate went down, he isn’t taking a paycheck. I wish some of those guys behind a mic would work for a living too, instead of putting their opinions out there. I love your governor here. I love this program here, and I’ll give you a ‘Roll Tide!’ Open for questions.”
On what’s going through the minds of the players after scoring on the first drive:
“They’re jacked up. They came here to play a big game. We told them, we came here two years ago with not a very good football team. From the time we got here, we were in the four-minute offense just trying to shorten that game. We came into this game saying, ‘Hey, our players are good. We’re a good football team, they’re good players. They deserve to go down there to play, and let’s go see what happens. Let’s go play ball.’ Our guys go right down, Troy (Mitchell) and these receivers and our running backs and our offensive line protecting, and that shows, maybe not for a 60-minute, we belong here. But I know Coach (Nick) Saban didn’t say take it easy on them, these are good ol’ boys. It gives us a lot of confidence that we can move the ball. If you can move it on Alabama, you can move it on anyone. That gave our guys confidence, and then we got a big turnover and punched it in. At 41-14, I kind of went with, ‘let’s have a little bit of fun and see if we can go get 21 on the board’. That was my fault, I shouldn’t have done that, but our kicker is a senior, and I wanted to try and get him a touchdown. We came into this game saying, ‘hey, we’re going to go play’. Our players deserve that, because what they’ve done and what they’ve built at Western (Carolina)…we’re trying to do what Alabama has done and that’s get to the top. I applaud our players. They are awesome.”
On Alabama being ranked No. 1 and if they have a good chance to win the National Championship:
“Oh, no question. It’s hard. Before I got here, I was at Appalachian State; I was a part of that team that went in and we beat Michigan. It’s hard as a coach to get players to understand that this team coming in here is a pretty good football team and it’s hard to turn it on at halftime. We proved that when we went up to Michigan. I know Coach Saban and Alabama went in there and did a good job at halftime, regrouped, and came out and did what they were supposed to do. There’s no question. I hope all of those guys that were injured are okay. This was our Super Bowl and our guys don’t want to hurt anybody. Man, I hope we didn’t do anything to No. 9 (Amari Cooper) because you don’t want to be a part of putting them behind the eight-ball against Auburn. Yes, to answer your question, when you’re playing Nick Saban and Alabama, no question. Shoot, I’m pulling for them because this place is a class-act and we’re trying to emulate them. Sure, I think Alabama is the No. 1 team in the country and I hope they win it.”
#10 Troy Mitchell, Quarterback
On scoring on the first drive:
“We came in, tried to have fun and we played our game. We moved the ball and ended up scoring. We just got out there and had fun.”
On being from Mobile, Ala., and playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium:
“To come back here and play is an honor. It was fun. My family came (for the game). To be here with my teammates and the seniors on the team was awesome.”
#8 Spearman Robinson, Running Back
On if he thought Western Carolina was going to upset Alabama:
“We just went out and played Cat football. We came out and gave them a game. We run a no-huddle, high-tempo offense. We went out and moved the ball. We expected them to come back, because it is Alabama. At the same time, we wanted to come in and play our game.”
On if he thinks Alabama has a chance to win the National Championship:
“I give Alabama respect. They’re all-around (a good team). They played all four quarters.”