Saban Proud Of Tide For Win

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was obviously pleased with his team's victory over Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday, but he also sees room for improvement.

Following Alabama's 22-3 win over Ole Miss, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said, "This was a great team win. I know maybe some of the things, you could say, weren't so pretty in terms of the red zone scoring and some of the issues that we had scoring touchdowns at times but I'm really proud of our players, I'm proud of our team. We really competed for 60 minutes in the game, played hard, played physical. Everybody sort of sold out for the team, which is great. Ole Miss has got a really good team and this is a tough place to play. I think the defense did a fantastic job, especially in the first half.

"I think we lost our poise a little bit out there in the second half. We made some mental errors and gave them some plays. But they only got three points in the game.

"The turnovers were huge in the game. Special teams, a great job in blocking the punt. They hadn't really gone =91bulldog' punt (in the game), they had done it in the past. We were ready for it with the block and our return and ended up blocking the ball on them. Cory Reamer did a great job. "The defense getting five turnovers on them today was probably the difference in the game relative to field position. Mark Ingram did a fantastic job gaining 100 yards against a very good defensive team. Leigh Tiffin was perfect on field goals, did a really good job of kicking off. I just think this was probably the most complete team win we've had all year in a difficult situation. I'm just pleased and happy for our players. Great effort. I can't tell you how proud I am of the effort and the toughness and the competitive character that our players showed today in this game."

Coach Saban took questions:

You said it was a complete team win. Where do you think you are this year compared to last year?

"I can't compare anything. I can't even remember who we played this time last year, you know.

"We've got a good team. Guys play hard, they play well together. I think there are a lot of things we can improve on and I think the key to the drill is can we stay focused on doing the things that we need to do to improve to be as good as we can be and not get complacent because that's the key to the drill. I mean, the passion to want to do it, the passion to stay with it, the passion to continue to go through the grind.

"And there's numerous teams every week that have a difficult time with that and don't play very well and end up having to take the lessons of not playing well all the time. It's a challenge, it's not really human nature to do that. It takes special people to do it. So far, our team has answered every challenge and done a good job with that and I'm pleased with that. But we have to continue to do it.

"It's like I've said before. This is like climbing a mountain. The higher you go, the more treacherous it gets. The focus has to be better, the execution has to be better and you have to continue to work and go through the grind to get there. So far we've done it, but we have to continue to do it."

Getting Cory (Reamer) and Eryk (Anders) back to their old spots seem to settle you guys a little bit after last week?

"We really thought after last week that with moving everybody around we ended up worse in three spots. Not that everybody didn't do a good job -- everybody did a good job in what they were doing -- but Cory was better at his position, Anders was better at his position. But it did give us a week, not having Dont'a (Hightower), to work with Tana Patrick and Nico Johnson both at that position and their improvement, because they got a lot of reps with the ‘ones,' I thought they would have an opportunity to play. Nico did a pretty good job out there today. We were pleased with that. We still didn't play him in nickel. We let Cory play nickel, but that works out okay for us."

You talked about sacks not being as important as affecting the quarterback. Is that what you're talking about, what you saw out there today?

"We hit the guy just about every time in the first half and I think it affected him. It affected them. In the second half, we probably didn't execute as well. We made some errors, didn't cover some guys on screens. We ran some blitzes wrong. But we kept competing in the game and got the turnover that (stopped a drive that) could have put them back in the game and got them stopped when we needed to. So it was a really great defensive effort. We didn't get many turnovers early and you guys asked me what we do to get turnovers. We did the same thing the first four games of the year to get turnovers that we've been doing the last two weeks. We've gotten nine the last two weeks and four in the first however many weeks. So the next time you ask me, I'm going to ask you."

Coach Saban, was there any offensive frustration with field goals instead of touchdowns?

"We were very disappointed that we couldn't punch the ball in in the red zone, especially on the road. You leave the other team in the game because you can't score touchdowns. I think you've got to give their defense a lot of credit. They did a really good job, they had a good plan, they rolled over the top, they confused Greg (McElroy) a couple of times. They did a good job of disguising what they were doing. We didn't run the ball effectively enough to be able to run it in. But we need to do a better job in the red zone."

Mark Ingram got a touchdown that pushed it from 9-0 to 16-0 right before the half. Talk about the momentum you picked up there.

"That was a fourth-down play. That's kind of a special play we had for fourth and short, go up to the line unbalanced, overload and sweep it and try to get outside. We did a good job executing, a good job blocking and Mark did a great job running so that was a big momentum swing for us."

Coach, can you talk about Mark Barron and the progress you've seen.

"Mark Barron has played extremely well for us. He's making a lot of progress. He does a good job covering. A god rush helps that."

You held them to 19 yards in the first half. What were some of the Xs and Os reasons for that?

"Well, I think we affected the quarterback. We had a plan to pressure him the first third down. We came right up the B-gap and they didn't pick it up. Knocked him down. That was the strategy going into the game, to pressure him. We did a good job of covering, a good job executing. That's about as fine a defensive performance in the first half as I've been around for a while. Players were excited and did a great job. Everybody did a great job, all 11 guys out there. We probably played 17 or 18 different guys, nickel, dime, regular and all that. Did a fantastic job."

You think Rolando gets something out of moving guys around and being aware of what everybody's doing?

"Well, he's aware of what everybody's doing. He's like having a coach on the field. It's unusual to have a guy as good as he as as smart and conscientious. And he's also a good student."

Coach, you said you could see affecting their quarterback but Greg took some shots today. Talk about his resilience.

"I thought Greg played well in the game today. I think he got a little confused in the red zone, especially. We had a tough time moving the ball with any consistency. But they have a good defense. I really have a lot of respect for their defense. We struggled to move the ball against them last year. We moved the ball, had a flea-flicker. Had a couple guys open to make big plays and the pressure got us. He got hit when he was throwing the ball and couldn't get the ball to them."

Can you talk about Reamer's play today, both at linebacker and on special teams?

"Well, you know, Reamer's on just about every special team. He's probably the best core special teams player that we have. And he's playing more defense now and he's doing a really good job in both regards.

"For a guy that was a safety that, to be honest, I didn't know if he'd ever play here, he's played a lot of good football for us over the last two years and especially now that his role has increased he's elevated his game tremendously."

Nick, you talked about this first half being as impressive as any you've seen from your defense. What does it say that it's the middle of the season and you're seeing that type of performance?

"I think that the focus is on improving. That's always been what we've tried to do. I do think our defensive players accept a challenge pretty well. They were challenged by this offense. This is a tough preparation. We work on these guys in spring practice, we work on them in fall camp. They got ‘Wildcat,' they got ‘22' (Dexter McCluster) playing quarterback. They got four wideouts and he's the quarterback. So the multiples of things you have to defend are amazing. And to get that kind of execution really speaks a lot for the preparation of how they guys prepare for this game. That's why they got good results."

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