Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “It was really a great team win. I thought it was really important that we control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We did a really good job of that, in terms of being able to run and keep the ball away from their offense. (Bama led in time of possession, 39:27 to 20:33, almost double.) We did a good job up front on defense, stopping their running game. (Bama outrushed LSU 250-54).
“They hit a couple of big plays on us in the first half, but other than that, it was really a well-played game by our team. I thought our front seven was real good. It was a great atmosphere out there. Our fans were ‘fantastic’ in this game, and I think it really helped our players. I think (the noise) affected the game to some degree, and it was a huge advantage for us.”
“I’m just really proud of our team for what they were able to accomplish out there on the field today. It’s a great team win, and great for our players. They worked hard to earn this opportunity, to play in games like this, so it’s great that they were able to take advantage of it, and I’m happy for each and every one of them.”
Derrick Henry outrushed Heisman leader Leonard Fournette 210 yards to 31, and scored three times to Fournette’s one. “I can say enough about Derrick Henry,” Saban said. “It was a great job (late) to take the clock and the game at the end of the game. The guys having a great year, and he had a great game and it couldn’t have happened at a better time against a great defensive team. He did a great job of carrying the ball, and it was special. I thought our offense did a fantastic job of running the football, and throwing it just enough to keep them off balance. I thought Jake (Coker, 18-24, 184 yards) did a great job, and he did what we asked him to do. He made some really clutch third down plays. The offensive line (played well), but we’ve got to do a better job of eliminating some of these sacks… but that’s not all (Coker’s) fault. He did a good job for what we needed to do in this game.”
Coming in, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris had not thrown an interception. That changed when senior linebacker Dillon Lee stepped in front of an errant Harris aerial to set Bama up at the LSU 28 early in the second half with Bama up by three. “Anytime… the other team’s got the ball starting the second half, the last thing you say to (your team) is ‘They get the ball first, and we need to go out there and re-establish the tempo of the game and get a stop. Better than a stop is getting a turnover. I think that was a heck of a play by Dillon Lee. It was huge in the game, and maybe the turning point in the game in terms of, the game is 13-10 and we down and score (on Henry’s 1-yard plunge behind a block by defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson). That makes it 20-10, so it changes the game a little bit.”
Adam Griffith hit field goals of 55 and 29 yards, and JK Scott averaged 45 yards on three punts. Said Saban: “I thought special teams were really good today, too. Field position on some of the kickoff coverage was really, really good. When you play an offensive team like (LSU), it really affects them.”
Asked about his decision to call time out, take Scott out, and send Griffith out for the 55-yarder with the first half winding down, Saban said, “There was 21 seconds to go (in the half), and … Adam’s range is usually the 35-yard line. It was on the 38, but there was a little wind helping him. At first, I didn’t want to give them the ball if we missed it. If they complete one pass, then they’ve got a chance to kick a field goal, but I looked at Adam and I said, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘I think I can hit it.’ He got a little wind behind him, and he hit it good. That was a big kick. He made all his kicks today, so we’re really pleased and happy with the job he did. He makes those kind of kicks (in practice) a lot. He really did a nice job today. He did a great job on kickoffs.”
After Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss in September, Saban noted that his team came out too emotional and over-hyped. Asked if the 2015 Tide has done a better job of approaching games since then on an even keel, Saban said, “I put a lot of emphasis on that this week, that guys focus on preparing to do their job, and do it in terms of your execution on the field. Play every play one play at a time, like it has a history and life of its own, and do it for 60 minutes of the game. Execute the basic fundamentals of the game, and do not get involved in the ‘hoopla’ and emotion of the game to where you go out there and you don’t execute, and you don’t play with discipline and you don’t do your job very well. Those things lead to negative plays, and bad things usually happen. I thought our players did a great job of that (this year) playing on the road, and I thought they did a great job of that playing here today.”
Reminded that Arkansas’ overtime win at Ole Miss opened the SEC West race up, Saban was asked if his team would be ready to capitalize on that situation down the stretch. “I think we’ve got to play one game a time,” he noted in ‘coach speak.’ “Mississippi State has a really good team. Our goal every week is to go 1-0. It’s as simple as that, and you can’t think beyond that. I think every team we play in the SEC West can beat us if we don’t play well, and I think our players understand that, so prepare properly in practice, get ready for the (next) game. You go on the road, and (Starkville’s) a tough place to play. Their quarterback (Dak Prescott) is a great player. They’re a real challenge for us.
“I always have liked the grit of this team. I’ve always liked the way this team competes. They don’t always execute right, and people criticize the penalties and negative plays that we have sometimes, but the ability to overcome adversity has not been an issue with this group so far. Hopefully, we can continue to persevere.”
Saban then answered a question about Kenyan Drake, who amassed 210 all-purpose yards, and in his answer, gave a preview of things to come at the running back spot. “Kenyan played a very good game today,” Saban began. “He ran the ball effectively (68 yards on 10 totes). He caught some passes (3 for 40 yards),and did a really nice job. We need that. Derrick (Henry) carried the ball 38 times. We’ve got to get somebody else that can carry the ball. (Freshman) Bo Scarborough’s starting to figure out what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to it, why it’s important to do it that way. (Freshman) Damien Harris has played some, so we’re probably going to need to get something out of those guys down the stretch.”