Alabama Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader met with the Cotton Bowl media to answer questions. The Crimson Tide will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas at 10 a.m. CST Monday. The game will be nationally televised by Fox.
On being Mike Shula's position coach at Alabama and what impact he had on him:
"I'm hoping there is somehow and some way there has been a positive influence on his life from me. When he first came to The University of Alabama out of high school, you could tell he was very sharp and very, very smart. He doesn't forget anything. He has always been that way. He is an intense competitor. You have to remember as he was growing up in the summers, where some of us may have been cutting yards and doing stuff like that, he went to pro camp and was the ball boy with the Miami Dolphins. He would go to the coaches' meetings at night. He would see how they were putting practices together. This is how he grew up.
"And the guy that he is learning from just happened to win more football games than any other coach in NFL history. That is a pretty good guy to learn from. For me to come say 'Yeah, I taught him how to coach,' that would not only be laughable, but inaccurate. He had, in my opinion, that mental and emotional makeup at 18. All that has happened since then is that people have given him opportunities. Ray Perkins has given him opportunities. Dave Wannstedt has given him opportunities. Tony Dungy gave him opportunities. He always made good of them. He is a good football coach."
"Probably more with J.B. (Closner) than (Tyrone) Prothro. We still have deep threats and we make good on those deep threats. When a guy plays center for you, he is the only center we've known. Our offensive staff, he is the only center we've known. So that is a big hit.
"There are so many things with the number of protections we use and the blocking schemes we use and the number of fronts that we see. In college ball, you basically see something new every week. The experienced guys make that happen for you."
On whether offensive squad comes into this game with chip on their shoulder:
"I think you would have to ask them. I think our guys have been very focused in practice. I can just tell you these facts. I think our guys have an attitude about them to play tougher than what they've shown. I think that if they have an attitude to come to practice and work everyday whether it is full pads in Dallas, when maybe you aren't supposed to do that, and they work through it or they may not like it. I think they have practiced hard the last few days. I think those are positive indications. I don't know if that is an attitude they have. I hope it is."