Despite the bye week for his team, Alabama coach Nick Saban made his weekly appearance Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. Here's a look at what Saban had to say:

Opening Statement

“I think it’s a welcomed time to have an open date. We played eight straight weeks and there’s a little wear and tear on your team. Probably important to have a balance between improving fundamentally during a time like this but also getting some guys the rest that they need and also the time to get healed up if that’s what’s necessary. So players have had a good attitude about it and we’ve worked well. So we’re excited about the opportunity that we have this week to try to improve for the teams that we have coming up after the bye week, but also for the little downtime that we get psychologically.”

On if he has noticed an increase in sacks in the SEC

“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of good pass rushers, and I think that maybe as the game has evolved and changed a little bit, people have gotten more speed on the field, especially in passing situations, as well as the fact that you’re looking for more athletic guys to play certain positions. And I also think people have come up with a lot of creative ways to create pressure, which probably can contribute to that as well.”

On if the importance of the offensive line can’t be overemphasized

“I think the line of scrimmage is vital, both sides of the ball. To be able to control [the lines of] scrimmages, whether you have the ball on offense and you have a good offensive line or when you’re playing defense to be able to take on blockers and hold the point, I think is probably as important as anything on a team to be able to do those two things well.”

On his reaction to Michigan’s sign-stealing/the use of helmet communicators

“I don’t have a lot of information or background on all this sign-stealing stuff. I’m kind of focused on our team. I know back in the old days when I was in the NFL, there was a time when you could send out scouts and scout the game personnel and that type of thing. I don’t think it was geared toward sign stealing, but that was allowed. They changed that rule, I think, sometime back, and we never had that at college for a long, long time. So I think you’re probably aware of that.

“I do think the helmet communicator is probably a real positive thing for the game. You can’t steal signs and do any of this stuff if you have the helmet communicator, and I think it would be a good thing. I think it’s worked out well in the NFL. And I also think it’s good to have one guy on defense so you can tell that guy with a call and not have to go through all this signaling process.”

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On the benefits of wearing the white Guardian helmet caps at practice

“I think it’s definitely helped. I know that we read about even new technology for some of the kind of shell things that you can wear on your helmet. We’re always trying to keep up to date with that because player safety is the No. 1 concern that we have for all of our players and that our trainers and doctors and everybody else has. So anything that we can do to create a safer environment for them to practice in is something that we’re always interested in.”

On Kool-Aid McKinstry’s recent decision-making on punt returns

“First of all, Kool-Aid’s done a great job for us back there. And I think that a lot of people are kicking the ball away from him because we had a lot of success on punt return last year. So he’s had a lot of difficult balls to field. In other words, they’re not just kicking the ball to him most of the time. I do think that everybody got all concerned about this. There were two balls in the game – one he could have caught, probably been a tough catch, and the last one that went to the one-yard line, which was significant, he really misjudged the ball. These guys that are rugby punters, the ball doesn’t travel exactly like a normal punt, so this ball flew on him a little bit.

“You can see on the film when you watch it that the ball was going to go over his head and he was going to have to catch it outside his body and make a tough catch, and rather than take a chance on doing that, he let the ball go and unfortunately for us, it rolled to the one-yard line.

"I've got a lot of confidence in him. I know he has confidence in doing it. I don’t think he has an issue. He wants to be back there. He wants to be aggressive. He wants to do what he has to do to be able to return punts. And we have total confidence in him.”

On former Bama player Derek Kief being promoted to interim Arkansas receivers coach

“Derek was a really good player here, a team guy, hard worker, smart. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s doing really, really well in coaching. Very driven guy. This is no surprise to me.”

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