Light-hearted Saban pleased with Tigers' progress

All smiles as he met the media on Monday, LSU head coach Nick Saban had a special presentation to make. <br><br> Baton Rouge Advocate sports writer Carl Dubois missed the trip to Arizona due to medical problems. However, before the Tigers headed west to the desert, Dubois went out on a limb and picked the Wildcats to upset LSU. <br><br> Let's just say Saban had some fun at Dubois' expense.

Before Saban began with his opening remarks concerning this week's game against Western Illinois, the fourth-year LSU head coach presented Dubois with a purple and gold sombrero, which drew thunderous laughter from the entire press corps. Red-faced, Dubois accepted Saban's gift, which brought words of a speedy recovery from the Tigers' head man.

 

After the bit of comic relief, Saban thanked the number of LSU fans who made the long trip to cheer on LSU to a resounding 59-13 win Saturday night in Tucson.

 

"I would like to say something to our fans and the people who support the program here," Saban said. "It is quite a trip and quite an expense and the fans never left the game, they stayed for 60 minutes. I want all of our fans to know how much our players, our staff- myself included, really appreciate the support they give us."

 

The folks in Arizona were shocked at how many LSU fans showed up in Tucson for Saturday's game.

 

"I heard a lot of people from Arizona talking about the fact that, other than playing Arizona State, they have never had that many people follow a team to play at Arizona, and it is not like we are adjoining states," Saban said.

 

A much better game than the season opener against UL-Monroe, the Tigers played one of their best all-around games since Saban became head coach.

 

"I think there was vast improvement from the first game to the second," Saban said.

 

As for the players of the week, quarterback Matt Mauck (10-11, 137, 1 TD) and Joseph Addai (18-86, 2 TDs) brought home the offensive honors.

 

"Matt Mauck, who was 10-11, did a great job of running the offense in terms of the "check with me's", and all the things he did in the game," Saban said. "The execution was outstanding. Joseph Addai has been a two-game workhorse for us and also did an outstanding job."

 

Marquise Hill and Marcus played possibly their best games in a Tiger uniform providing plenty of pressure to the Arizona quarterbacks.

 

"We felt our two defensive ends probably played the best that they have played since they have been here, and they have both played a lot of good football here," Saban said. "They were very productive, that is Marquise Hill and Marcus Spears, and had outstanding games. They also had the two highest point totals on defense."

 

Gino Giambelluca and Corey Webster were named the special teams players of the week.

 

Saban did not dwell on this weekend's opponent. However, he did say the top-ranked Leatherneck should not be taken lightly. Western Illinois is No. 1 in the I-AA poll and has a knack for beating Division I schools.

 

"Western Illinois is that they have beaten three Division 1 opponents, three or four maybe, in the last couple of years," Saban said. "I know they have beaten Northern Illinois once and Northern Illinois beat Maryland when they were in the top 25."

 

Saban stressed that WIU is dangerous team and not to let the I-AA moniker fool you.

 

"Just because a team is 1-AA does not mean that they do not have, especially when they can beat 1-A schools, football players that need to be respected and regarded and prepared for just as any other team," Saban said. "I think this is an opportunity for our team to show that they can play with consistency as well as make an improvement as a football team."

 

On the injury front, Kirston Pittman (sprained MCL) is the only significant injury stemming from the Arizona game. Randall Gay's status has not changed and Terrell McGill is up and around and is questionable for this weekend's contest.

 

"I do not think either of those two guys (McGill and Gay) will play in the game," Saban said. "I would have to say that Randall Gay is not going to play in the game and Terrell McGill would still be very questionable for the game."

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