Nick Saban spent his Monday presser reviewing the A&M win and previewing this week's homecoming matchup with Arkansas. Here's a look at what the Tide coach had to say.

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Opening Statement

“I think the biggest thing that we want to focus on is to build on the positives of the good things that our team did in the last game. You know, competitive spirit. Did a lot of good things in terms of being able to pass the ball effectively in the game, make some explosive plays. The defense did a pretty good job for the most part. Obviously, there’s things that we need to work on and we want to be positive about how we fix those things in the future so that we can continue to progress as a team.

“Arkansas is really a good team. They’ve had some really tough games, some really close losses. But they’ve scored a lot of points. KJ Jefferson is a really good, bigtime quarterback. Big guy. Hard to sack. Can run. Very talented arm. Sam does a great job with these guys in terms of their ability to run the ball, whether it’s quarterback runs or whatever. They play very aggressively and very well on defense. They’ve got good specialists. A really good kicker. They’ve got a good running back. I mean, this is a good team. I don’t think we should be looking at their record and making any kind of judgments on what they’re capable of, because they’re capable of scoring points and they’re capable of playing really good defense. And they’re a very well-coached team.”

On the progress of the defense

“The defensive players have played hard. They’ve been a really solid group from an attitude standpoint. They practice well. They try to prepare well. And they’ve played well together and they’ve done a good job of minimizing mental errors. We didn’t have a lot of mental errors in the last game. I mean, Terrion got kind of thrown into a bad spot with minimal reps when Malachi went down. But other than that, the guys have been doing a really good job of preparing and minimizing mistakes. And hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to do that.”

On his evaluation of OC Tommy Rees, DC Kevin Steele through six games

“I’m not going to publicly comment. We’re happy with the coaches that we have, and we’re always trying to get better. We’re all working hard together to try to get better, trying to figure out what’s the best solution to help our team grow and develop, whether it’s style of play, doing more things that they’re capable of doing, trying to minimize the negative plays. I’m pleased with the effort that everyone is giving in trying to give input to fix those things. Everybody’s responsible for a better way. So if we have deficiencies as a team, that’s kind of on me.”

On the Tide already matching its 2022 interception total

“I think we’ve done a good job of pressuring the quarterback. I think the pass rush has been good even when we only have four guys rushing. I think that has affected thee quarterback to some degree. I do think our guys all have good ball skills. They all play the ball well in the air and I think we play the ball with more confidence. So that’s something that we like to see in all the defensive backs that we have. Hopefully we will be able to continue to get turnovers because that’s going to be huge for us, in terms of being successful in the future, is having a successful turnover margin.”

On if the Arkansas attack has changed under OC Dan Enos

“Not a whole lot. They have a really good system, really good scheme. I think they do a good job of utilizing the players that they have. The quarterback runs are always something that adds another layer of focus is that you have to be concerned about on defense which they’re really, really good at. They hit great play-action passes, they can throw the ball downfield and make explosive plays. There’s not a whole lot of difference between what they’ve done in the past and what they’re doing now. Some little thing but they’ve been very productive on offense. We’re gonna have to play very, very well.”

On the play of middle linebacker Deontae Lawson

“He’s played really really well. We really miss him when he’s not out there, missed a game. His leadership is great. He, I think helps everybody with his playcalling and his performance has been very good. He’s a conscientious guy. A good athlete and has the ability to make plays but he’s putting himself in the right place to do it because he’s so conscientious as a player.”

On why Bama couldn't run the ball against Texas A&M

“I think it was a combination of both. I think that we miss-ID’d some plays in terms of who we were blocking and where we’re going to. I think we missed some things on some of their stunts and pressures. Their front seven is really good. We had some other plays that if we finished blocks we would have much more productive plays. So we got to do a better job of finishing. We also knew going into the game it was going to be tough-sledding up front. We were gonna have to be able to throw the ball effectively. I was really pleased with that part of it. We still gotta work on protections and how we protect the quarterback.”

On the first start by guard Jaeden Roberts

 “I love to see guys like him who have worked hard for two whole years and in his third year gets an opportunity, especially in his home state, to go out and play. A guy has a good physical presence. He played hard in the game. It’s really tough when you have a guy that practiced all week and he’s not able to play in the game and the next guy’s gotta go in. He didn’t have the same opportunities to prepare. I thought Jaeden did a pretty good job of managing it and handling it. Played with a lot of grit, determination and toughness and executed fairly well.”

On the coming of age by quarterback Jalen Milroe

“I think the big thing that we’ve tried to continue to get him to understand is you gotta keep playing the next play. There’s not always going to be perfect plays but whatever happened on the last play is a learning experience for you to grow and get better and focus on what you have to do the next play. You cannot allow one play to affect the next play. That’s something I think he’s learned and doing a lot better. But he’s staying much more positive on the sidelines, communicating really well his teammates and the coaches in terms of what he saw and what he didn’t see and what he needs to do to get it corrected. That’s something that comes a little bit with experience but I think it also comes with awareness. I think we’re making progress in both areas.”

On the 197-yard performance of receiver Jermaine Burton

“Jermaine has got great ability. We want to keep him focused on doing the things he needs to do to be consistent in his performance. Fundamentally, just keep working on things like he runs good routes, he’s got great ability, he’s got really good hands, ball security—things like that. Not getting too emotional in the game where you make bad choices and decisions. Some of those things are just things that we continue to work on. We’re really excited about the game that he had, his performance, what we can build on with that. I think he’s learned that you really don’t want to do anything to help the other team. And he’s done a lot to hurt the other team, so let’s don’t do anything to help people.”

On how freshman safety Caleb Downs handles the pressure of SEC play

“Well, I don’t know that pressure is something that goes with being a DB, or at any position really. It’s a matter of Caleb has played really well for us. He’s very mature. The guy really pays attention to detail and does a really good job in preparation. Wants to know what he’s supposed to do. How he’s supposed to do it. Why it’s important to do it that way. He’s got great football instincts and savvy, so he kind of understands what the other team’s trying to do, which I think is important as well. So he’s done a good job of that. I don’t want any of our players to feel like they have pressure to play at their position. I think when you prepare well, and you’re confident, and you have poise, and you’re focused on execution, that that shouldn’t be an issue. It should be positive energy and attitude to go forward in those three things to be successful.”

On the multiple re-snap penalties

“We had nine pre-snap penalties in the game, and I think a lot of those were created by the fact that we had trouble clapping in the game because of the noise. So we went on silent, and when we went on silent, the guard taps the center. And as soon as the guard tapped the center, they’d stem and move the front, which is not illegal. It was perfectly a good thing for them to do on their part. And we had numerous times where guys flinched. Because, when you go on silent, there is no snap count.

“One of the advantages of playing offense is you know what the snap count is. So you know when you get off the ball. Well, when it’s so noisy and you have to go on silent, you lose that advantage. And if we’re going to do that in the future, we obviously need to practice it more so our players don’t get spooked by a moving defense because everybody’s got to sort of go on the ball. So we had 14 penalties in the game. Nine of them were pre-snap, false start penalties. So, are they correctable? Absolutely. How much was created by the atmosphere and environment and our choice to try to go on silent. That became a little bit of a problem for us in the game.”

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