GUS MALZAHN (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Comments from Alabama Coach Nick Saban on Auburn

Alabama Coach Nick Saban calls Auburn ‘outstanding team’

As might be expected, much of Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s commentary in his regular Monday press briefing centered on this week’s opponent as the Crimson Tide hosts Auburn in what is considered one of the nation’s biggest rivalry games.
Alabama, 11-0 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference games, will host Auburn (8-3, 5-2) at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game.
Also, as would be expected, Saban was laudatory in his remarks concerning the Tigers, who were in the SEC title picture until being upset by Georgia two Saturdays ago.
Alabama has clinched the SEC Western Division championship and will play Florida in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta Dec. 3.
Here are the comments regarding Auburn from Saban:
“Auburn is an outstanding team. Gus has done a really, really good job there since he's been there, but especially this year and how this team has developed and improved throughout the season. They've made adjustments throughout the year relative to issues that they've had on their team, whether it be injuries or whatever.
“They've been able to score a lot of points, run the ball very effectively. They've been able to make explosive plays in the passing game.
“Their defense has been probably as good as any defense that we've played against all year long. They're very good up front. They've got good pass rushers. They create negative plays. They play good in the back end. They're very well coached.
“Kevin (Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele) has done a really good job with them. I think Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams are especially a handful up front.
“I think they do what they do on offense, regardless of who plays quarterback, and they've been able to do that pretty effectively all year long relative to how they've been able to run the ball on people and make explosive plays in the passing game.
“They've got probably one of the best placekickers in the country in Daniel Carlson.
“It's just a very, very good team.”
Asked about Auburn’s use of three quarterbacks — Sean White, Jeremy Johnson, and John Franklin III — Saban said, “They're all a little bit different, but all very effective in terms of their style and how they play.
“Sean White probably was the most effective guy throwing the ball consistently to go with their running game but also pulled the ball on some quarterback runs and made plays and was very efficient and effective.
“The other two guys are very athletic and very capable of running at any time, scrambling at any time, making plays with their feet at any time; running the quarterback runs that they have in their offense, as well as making plays passing.
“I don't see a whole lot of difference in the guys. I don't like to compare people but we all think that we all respect each and every one and their abilities to make plays at their position.”
Saban was asked about Auburn being primarily a running team.
“They do run the ball but they run it because they're very good at running it and they're very effective running it,” Saban said. “They also have threats outside and because they run it, I think it makes it very difficult to defend some of the shot passes that they take relative to their play-action game and their ability to make explosive plays in the passing game.
“One of the keys, really, is, ‘How do you stop the run but not do it at the expense of giving up explosive plays in the back end?’”
Auburn has two key players — White and tailback Kamryn Pettway — who have been injured and whose status is a bit of a mystery. Saban was asked is that changes what to expect in the game.
"We really have to prepare for what they do,” Saban said. “They do a good job of utilizing the personnel that they have. We're preparing as if those guys will play because we respect all the players that they have at that position. All those guys have been productive for them all year long. I think they're all good players and they're going to be a challenge for us to be able to defend against them.”
Saban was asked about the strength of Auburn’s defensive line.
He said, ”I think this is probably the best front that we've played against. This may be the best defense we've played against all year. This is one of Auburn's better defenses -- not to make comparisons -- that we've played against since we've been here. I think it starts with the up front guys because they're very dominant up front. They're really in all areas on their team and they play very well. They don't make a lot of mistakes and they're coached very well. They have a lot of ability and it's going to be a real challenge for us to control their front people."


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