Q & A with Nick Saban

Comments to the media from the head coach following The Citadel game.

Opening Statement

I'm happy. Nobody's happy? I'm happy. We won.

I was really happy with the way we...played aggressively today. We wanted to establish the fact that we were gonna be a tough, physical, get-after-'em type team, even though that might have come off a little bit conservative in the way we played at times. I still thought it was the most important thing for our team to do.

We didn't start out the second half very well, but I was very pleased with the way we played in the first half. It's always disappointing when you have penalties that nullify big plays like the punt return in the first half. (We) had a few too many turnovers.

But I was pleased with the effort of our players; I thought they played hard. I thought we played pretty well on defense. We just had a couple of breakdowns in the third quarter and (The Citadel) put some drives together. I think you have to give their players a lot of credit for they way they played and competed in the game because they certainly didn't give up in the game; (they) played hard and kept coming at us.

There are a lot of things that we need to improve on as a team and we are going to keep working at it to do that. But I was pleased though with the effort and intensity we had. We practiced well and prepared well this week. I just think we need to keep improving in areas that are obvious relative to how we throw the ball and how we make big plays on offense.

(We) had a couple of opportunities to make them today, and under-threw a guy. We've just got to keep working at it. I think the more we make those plays, the more confidence we will get. The more confidence we get, the more you will see some of these guys making some big plays because I think we are capable.

I still think we have some young guys out there feeling their way, but I thought we did a good job tonight on the offensive line. We rushed for a lot of yards and I think that is a real compliment to the offensive line because they (The Citadel) play a lot of eight-man fronts and different things like that. They didn't stunt and blitz as much as we thought they might.

We threw some short passes but did not throw the ball down the field much in the game. And when we did do it, we were not effective doing it and we need to improve on that part of our game. There is no question about that.

I don't think we have any significant injuries. A couple guys got nicked a little bit (so) we held them out of the game. (LaBrandon) Toefield hurt his shoulder a little bit, and we didn't put him back in. He could have gone back in the game. Norman (LeJeune) probably could have gone back in the game. A couple guys got twisted ankles; we just didn't put them back in the game. It gave us an opportunity to give some other guys some playing time as well.


Q: You made a mention of the passing game. Was it just a new quarterback, new receivers?

A: I think it's a combination of things. ...I don't think it was a great day to be throwing it out there, to be honest with you. It was kind of wet, the ball was wet, and it wasn't our intention to go into the game and throw it a lot, even though we wanted to improve our ability to throw the football.

We threw it effectively short, but we never made any big plays. We never threw the ball down the field much. That's something we need to continue to improve on.

We've got some new guys playing and we've got some guys who can make plays who we've got to get the ball into their hands so they can make plays. We've got to do it down the field.

We were very conservative in the game today and that was our intention.


Q: You said you were conservative by design. Why?

A: As I said in the beginning, we wanted to be a physical, aggressive, tough football team. That was the one thing we were going to establish in this game - play good defense, run the ball effectively, win on the line of scrimmage.

We wanted to make big plays in the game, and we wanted to make big plays passing the ball. But it didn't work out that way and that's something we need to work on.

I think the weather conditions had a little bit to do with it, too. We were ahead in the game, so there wasn't any need to do it, really.


Q: Especially on defense, would you have liked to have played more people?

A: I was disappointed that we didn't have the opportunity maybe to get ahead one more score when it was 28-0. ...If w could have gotten one more score, we were going to put a lot of people in the game. We played quite a few guys but we'd have played a lot more. It's always a benefit to us.

It was good to get Marcus (Randall) in the game. He got hit real good one time and fumbled the ball. I think it helped him and...his confidence just to get in there and play.

We had really good rhythm on offense. The offense was really doing well. We changed quarterbacks in the second quarter by design - that was planned no matter how things were going to go in the game.

We were going to use this game today to give Marcus Randall some confidence and some experience - confidence physically that he was ok, and also confidence in his ability to play and make decisions. We need to keep working with him to improve him as well.


Q: You said you had a chance to evaluate a lot of players. Was there anyone who sticks out and has proven to you that he wants and deserves more playing time?

A: I saw some guys playing with tremendous effort on special teams. I saw (Jason) Spadoni run down there pretty well. I saw Ronnie Prude do a really good job on special teams. Adrian Mayes did a really good job on special teams and played a little bit on defense. There were quite a few guys.

The effort and intensity today was very good. If we get good effort, good intensity and play with toughness, we'll get better execution. But that's the most important. We'll improve...our execution.

I know you guys want to see Rohan Davey-type numbers from...two quarterbacks who've never really played. Those guys are gaining some experience as they go, and we're going to get better. They need to believe in one another. The need to have confidence...that we're going to continue to improve by having better execution all the way around.

We made a good (pass) play over the middle today. Michael (Clayton) catches the ball, gets it knocked off of him and fumbles the ball. We've just got to quit doing those things. We've just got to play better.


Q: Would you comment on Joseph Addai's play tonight?

A: I think Joseph played well. He played a lot better today...and looked a lot more confident than a week ago. I think that's just a young player who's starting to feel his oats a little bit. Joseph's going to be a good player for us. I thought he ran hard, made some good cuts. He got a little bit tired at times, but I was really pleased with his performance.


Q: Were you pleased with the play of your secondary, especially leading up to next week when you'll face a team that throws the ball well?

A: We'll see next week. I don't think either one of the teams we've played really try to throw the ball that much, and I don't think we've been challenged in the secondary. I think we've covered fairly well. We haven't given up a lot of big plays. I know we gave up one today on a wheel route, which is the linebacker's man.

I think there are some things we need to do better (in the secondary), but I think there are some things we need to better up front in the (defensive) running game, too. They nickel-dimed us today, four or five yards (at a time). We need to be more physical up front and we need to do a better job of rushing the passer, which I don't think we've done with just rushing four guys.


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