SABAN: Chatting with the coach

This is what Nick Saban had to say Monday about the Tigers 22-21 win over Oregon State last weekend and this weekend's upcoming game with Arkansas State.

"I think the one thing we don't want to do here is miss the target on what the problems are. I think we played hard and competed well in the game, and I think it's a real tribute to not only our team but our fans and everybody who stayed in the game and gave us an opportunity to come back in the game and kind of pull it out."


"The main problem in the game was not being able to execute on a consistent basis in any phase of the game. I think that's the thing we want to focus on, that's what we want to target is to get it right to do the fundamental things that we need to improve to get better execution. It's across the board at every position. So, it's not specific to one thing, one position, one guy or whatever."


"Offensively, we didn't block them right up front, and when we blocked them right up front the ball carrier didn't run the ball like he was supposed to. We probably got too much pressure on the quarterback even though we didn't get sacked. We didn't do things correctly down the field at times in the passing game, we didn't throw it good all the time, we didn't catch it well all the time, so there's a lot of things to work on there. But I think more than any game we've ever had, you can look at the film and say if we do it right, if we get it done the right way, we could have had success, and the players can learn and grow from that."


"Defensively, we made far too many mental errors in the game, and it cost us at times. We missed some tackles in critical situations, which gave them a couple plays that actually ended up setting up both their touchdown scores. So, those things we need to get corrected and the basic execution. We made some plays on defense. I'm not saying we played poorly, but things that hurt us we can get corrected."


"In the kicking game, our specialists weren't very good. We fumbled the opening kickoff, kicked one out of bounds on the kickoff, we missed two field goals and we just didn't do a very good job. It wasn't an advantage to us on special teams in this game."


"Now, we can make excuses for ourselves, and even though I will agree with anybody in here we looked like seals running around on dry land out there, but we haven't practiced in rain the whole fall camp and it seemed like it did have some affect on us, but that's something that you have to be able to overcome. That's one thing that we strive for here and have gotten in the past is to be able to overcome extreme situations in whatever the circumstance might be."


On LSU's Players of the Week….

"We've got some guys who had good performances. Dwayne Bowe did a very good job with five catches and actually had a big play touchdown called back. Marcus Spears played extremely well as a defensive player. Ronnie Prude caused a fumble and made a couple of tackles on special teams, and he's the special teams player of the week."


On the punting situation….

"We're going to evaluate this on a day-to-day basis, but right now I would say that Chris Jackson did a pretty good job in the game, especially after he got a few kicks in. He's showing a consistency that I think we need in terms of hangtime. We wanted to give Patrick (Fisher) an opportunity, and he struggled little bit early. We're just going to keep evaluating that situation, but right now I would say Chris Jackson would be the guy to do the punting for us."



On the quarterback situation…..

"Let me just say this, I think it's a tribute to both guys that they went in and out of the game in the second half, and both ended up making plays that contributed to the success that we had coming back in the game. So, I think that it would be safe to say that we'll probably end up playing two quarterbacks."


"I'm not sure that I'm ready to say who's going to start the game, but I'm not sure that that's really the issue here. I think the issue is that we need better execution at the quarterback position. We want both guys to continue to improve, we need both guys to continue to improve and we're going to work both guys so that they can improve and give them both an opportunity to most likely play in this game. So, in practice this week we'll have something do with how those guys do."


On the injury situation….

"From an injury standpoint, (OG) Will Arnold (knee) and (WR) Skyler Green (ankle) are probably both questionable for this game. I don't think Skyler's hurt any worse than he was before, but when he jumped up on the incomplete pass on the fourth-down play when we didn't score, he reinjured his ankle and to that point it hadn't really given him any problems. So, we don't know at this point for sure, but the one thing we don't want to happen is for this to be a recurring season long type of thing. He had 10 days or 11 days to get well, and it took him about a week to get well before he could practice and go out there at least be 80 percent. It didn't really bother him in the game, but it would be a stretch to think that he could get back this quickly to be able to play six days from now."


"Will got an MCL. It's not severe, but it's probably a week or two deal. It would be questionable as to whether he could play this week. (Center) Ben (Wilkerson) will be out of practice today, but we expect him to be back tomorrow. He just got a slight knee strain late in the game, continued to play with it. It shouldn't really be a problem."


On Arkansas State….

"Arkansas State played really well against Missouri, especially on offense. They threw up 438 yards and scored 17 points in the first half. They really looked good offensively. Steve Roberts does a really good job, I think, of coaching these guys. The two new quarterbacks that they have both played extremely well in the game. So, we're really always going to respect our opponents, but I think it's more important at this time what our team does relative to the situation that they're in rather than it is who we're playing. And that's not to disrespect anyone, but I would say that regardless of who our opponent was this week."


On his team this week….

"The key focus for us is to get better execution and to get it right with our guys. I'm hopeful that nobody is relieved that we won the game and that they see this as an opportunity to learn from an inability to execute, regardless of the circumstances, and how with the proper execution we can have a lot more success. The real key is going to be on the improvement. That's what we want to focus on."


"I didn't see a lot of loafing out there, I didn't see a lot of guys not trying hard or playing hard. So, to go criticize effort or competitive spirit probably wouldn't be the right thing. I just think a little more of a mental sense of urgency to execute and get things done correctly, and believe that that's what is going to help you have success, is going to be a real key for us to be able to play smart. Playing smart is doing the right things together, and that's something that we need to make some improvements on."

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