Saban Comments On Bama Win

For drama, it was difficult to match the defensive touchdown scored by Alabama just before halftime. But the turning point was ground out by the offense in a drive that went nearly the length of the field and took nearly seven minutes.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was proud of his players for winning a game against a Southeastern Conference opponent on the road Saturday. The Crimson Tide had only a one-point lead late in the first half, but took a 21-7 lead at halftime and Bama rolled to a 38-20 win over Kentucky in Lexington.

Saban said the key to the game was Alabama's late second quarter drive was the key to victory.

"I think that was the turning point of the game," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. We were having a tough time changing field position. We had a three-and-out that gave them good field position again, I think the defense did an outstanding job a couple of times they got us back down there again and hitting the tight end down the middle was a big play on third down and that got us started. I think that gave Greg (quarterback Greg McElroy) some confidence. He threw the ball effectively on that drive and that's what we needed to do the whole game."

Moments after that drive ended in a touchdown, Rolando McClain caused a fumble that was grabbed by Courtney Upshaw and returned 45 yards for a touchdown.

How big was that? "Well, I think scoring two touchdowns in 19 seconds in a game is always big," Saban said. "It was a two-minute situation for them. We squib kicked, thinking we would get better field position and gave them good enough field position to go two-minute. That's one of the things we tried to emphasize is getting turnovers. The runner was carrying the ball a little bit loose and Ro punched it out and Courtney picked it off and ran it for a touchdown and I think that was a huge momentum swing in the game. I think it took the crowd out of the game to some degree and gave us a 21-6 halftime lead when we really had one good drive on offense and one good play in the kicking game."

Saban said the play of McClain was "outstanding." He said, "I'm sure there are things that we can improve on. They ran the ball effectively on us. I can't totally analyze all the reasons why they did it, but they ran hard, they played hard, they were physical and we're going to have to be more physical and improve if we're going to be able to compete in this league down the road."

Saban said, "That was really a tough game. They were really physical out there today. I'm talking about Kentucky. They did a good job of running the ball against us. The first quarter was really tough. We decided to take the ball so we could guarantee that we would have the wind in the fourth quarter, which could have been a factor if the game had gotten any closer. So it was tough sledding out there with the field position but in the second quarter we started playing better. I think the turnovers were a real key for us defensively. I think that was the difference in the game, probably.

"We did a decent job on third down out there but they made two fourth down conversions and we had opportunities to get them stopped at the end of the game and probably didn't do as good a job of doing that as we would have liked. But I give their players a lot of credit for the way they played today, the way they competed. They played hard, they played with a lot of toughness, they ran the ball on us as well as anybody probably has for awhile. I think they deserve a lot of credit. They were very physical.

"I was really pleased with the way we responded offensively out there. Greg really played well after we got started in the second quarter. Threw the ball effectively. And the way they were playing us, to stop the run, that was what we need to do and it was good to see we can do that with consistency.

"I think Ro played an outstanding game with all the tackles that he made. Certainly there are some things we probably need to improve on, especially in our nickel. They ran the ball against our nickel pretty well today, so we've got a lot to improve on, but it's always good to go on the road and win in this league. It's always tough to do. I'm proud of our players for the way that we competed in the game, the way we overcame adversity in the game, especially in the first part of the game not taking advantage of the turnover early on when we had a 7-0 lead probably was a big momentum change.. But we persevered it, overcame it and I think that's what good teams have to do.

"So I'm proud of our players, I'm proud of the way we competed in the game and I'm proud of the way we overcame adversity. I think the improvement has to come in some of our execution so that everybody does their job so that we have a better opportunity to be more successful in more situations in the game."

Saban said the win had an effect on Alabama's offense.

"The wind was swirling, but for whatever reasons, it was a lot easier to throw it going away from our tunnel than it was to it, and I think it affected us a lot," the coach said. "I think we still should have tried, maybe we were a little more conservative than we needed to be, and that may have affected us a little bit in terms of our ability to move the ball. But the few times that we did throw it we floated it a little bit, especially on a couple of long balls, and that's what's going to happen. But I thought Greg really did a good job managing the game. He got us in the right play. We had balance out there, but this was by far the most physical, toughest game that we've had to this point."

Saban said, "We did a better job of running the ball and had better balance in the second half. I think the face we threw the ball a little bit more effectively probably had something to do with that and I think that's what we're going to have to do. I think we're going to have to throw the ball and have good balance in our offense to be an effective offense."

Tight end Colin Peek had his best game as an Alabama player. He had six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown.

"He made a lot of big catches today," Saban said. "He's got great hands, he's very smart about how he gets open and he's played really well for us all year, but he had more opportunities today and certainly took advantage of it."

Saban added, "Our fans always do a great job for us out there. There wasn't a big group of them, but there was a little bit of red up there and it (the visitors' section) was full and I know our players appreciated it. I appreciated it, and I want them to know how important they are to our team when we're playing on the road. And they did a fantastic job for us today."

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