Saban Updates Injuries; Discusses Adjustments in Win
NIck Saban updated and opined on a variety of topics in an interesting chat with the media following Alabam's come-from-behind 34-20 home win over Tennessee. Here's a transcript of what the Tide coach had to say.
"Well, obviously a pretty fun second half. I'm really proud of our players. When I walked in at halftime when they scored right before the half I said everybody here's got a choice. Got a choice to make. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to do? Everybody's got to choose what they want. And we went out and scored in two plays in the second half on the first drive on offense and changed the momentum of the game and played really well from that time on. Tennessee's got a really good team. I'm really proud of our players for the way they competed in the game and came back and the way they took care of business in the second half.
"We've got a bye week coming up so probably need to get a little rest for some of our guys but we've got more business to take care of in the future. For right now, everybody should enjoy this. It was a great win for us, we had a great atmosphere in the stadium. Our fans were fantastic, they had a huge impact on the game in terms of the penalties at the end of the game and not allowing them to score. So, I can't tell you how pleased and proud I am with everybody in the organization who puts a lot into it so we can have games like this, have atmospheres like this and have the opportunity to compete like this for our players. So, really, really proud of our team and it was a great team win. I mean, 27-0 in the second half was pretty good offense and really good defense."
On the 3rd-quarter 4th-down stop
"Alright you're talking about the one in the second half? Yeah. They like to get in bunch so we had kind of a check defense to go to, to get into a gap-eight with two double-edges force folk secondary to try to roll if they brought the ball to the perimeter. So the guys up front just knocked them back and that was a huge stop in the game. Had two fourth down stops in the game that were huge."
On why it was important to thank the fans after the game
"I know how much it means to our fans, this game, a rivalry of this game, Tennessee. I also wanted to thank them because of what a great job that they did, the impact that they had on the game, the atmosphere on the game. I think it kept the energy level up for our team and kept the momentum rolling in the second half for us. It was fantastic and I wish I could thank each one of them personally."
On defensive adjustments in the second half
"In the beginning of the game we were trying to play odd because we were really trying to stop the run. They hit the big pass, we were in odd, kind of didn't play the coverage exactly right for the first touchdown. As the game went on we started playing a little more even, started playing things that we had played in the past. I think the players did a really good job, it helped us rush the passer better. So the players did a good job of adapting. We got a better four man rush out of it and played more of kind of the coverages that we normally play with four men rushing rather than eight drops."
On coaching a team that battles through adversity
"Well I love it. It's been great. The challenges are great. I enjoy coaching this team. That's not to say that they're taking years off of my life, but I'm ok with that. So it's fun. They've got a good spirit about them. They've got good relationships on this team. I think the players legitimately care about each other and they respond well to their coaches. It's really fun to coach them.
"I don't think that we sometimes show the maturity from a competitive standpoint to do everything on a consistent basis, which what we keep trying to work to. But I'll tell you, eight weeks in a row and the grind that we've had the last four or five weeks with the games in our league, probably physiologically probably had a little bit of a tired team out there at the beginning of the game. I think the momentum of the game gave them the energy they needed to play the way they could, the way they're capable of playing."
"Well it's great the way we played in the second half, but you could make an argument that we weren't a finished product in the first half really on either side of the ball. I do think the resiliency that the players, sort of, show. Our ability to overcome adversity, them scoring right at the end of the half. Us having an opportunity to score and turning it over and then they go down the field and they score right before the half. So it was a big swing from a momentum standpoint. It takes a lot of resiliency, a lot of perseverance for those players to bounce back from that because it was a horrible way to end the first half and they did a fantastic job of it. I can't say enough about the competitive spirit that they had when they needed to have it."
"I think it was important, they still hurt us at times with the quarterback runs, the quarterback draws a couple times, they had a couple perimeter plays with the quarterback. I think he's a good player, he's a big guy, he's fast, he's a very good athlete and that creates another gap for you to have to play, which was one of the reasons we wanted to play odd. So that we could play, not only their runs, but his runs better but we didn't feel like we were playing coverage that we needed and getting the rush that we needed. They gained 230 yards rushing last week. I don't know what they gained today but I know it wasn't that much, so it was a pretty good job."
"Trey played well. Played really well. Made some really good plays, was very aggressive in coverage, had a couple pass breakups. On the sack, the sack fumble for a touchdown, if the guy would have thrown the ball, he double-clutched it. I think Trey Amos was going to intercept it, it was right in front of me. He double-clutched it and pulled it back and that's when -Bras' [Chris Braswell] knocked it out of his hand. I thought he played really, really well.
"Terrion has a slight concussion. So we thought, he didn't clear protocol so the thing that you do is you don't play the guy. That's for safety reasons and hopefully in a few days he'll clear."
On Jalen Milroe taking runs late.
"I thought Jalen played really well in the game, especially in the second half. We missed a couple reads in the first half on the runs, the quarterback runs, but he did a much better job in the second half. I think you've got to get a feel for how the guys are playing you. It's kind of like if you are playing point guard and they guy's schlepping off you shoot a three, if a guy's guarding you close you drive around him.
"But when you're reading a defensive end on some of this stuff you've got to get a feel for it. Once that happened in the game he did a really good job and he made some really key runs. The one scramble for a first down was big. The thing that we emphasized with him against these guys, because they have really good edge rushers, is you've got to step up in the pocket. On the touchdown pass to start the second half, edge pressure, stepped up in the pocket and threw the ball, stepped up in the pocket on a couple of those runs. So that was something that he used to do really well. I thought he made some really key plays today."
On offensive adjustments and execution in the second half
"I really think offensively, the shot that we took was a planned play, the touchdown to start the second half. I don't think we ran different plays, a lot of different plays. I think we did a much better job of executing those plays. We had a couple others that if we just finish blocks would have been even more productive. But I thought Jase McClellan really ran hard in the game. The guy's been beat up a little bit, but he's one of the toughest guys on the team and certainly a great competitor the way he competed out there tonight."
On Jihaad Campbell's role and Trezmen Marshall's injury
"Trezmen Marshall has like bruised ribs and I ask the players if they think they could play. Even though he was able to practice a little bit in a black jersey, which means nobody can hit you, so he can move around decent enough. But every time he would bump somebody it was a problem. So hopefully in two weeks he'll be ok, but he's been a really good competitor for us.
"Those three [inside linebackers] have rotated. 32's missed games, 17's missed games, 30 takes whoever's missing, he takes their place. Because 32 plays both spots, he plays Mike and Money. So Trezmen usually plays Mike and [Deontae Lawson] plays Will but he played Mike tonight and 30 played Will.
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