Saban comments on Alabama game

LSU head coach Nick Saban talked with reporters following the Tigers' humbling 31-0 loss to Alabama.

Opening Statement

We just got beat by a good football team tonight. We couldn't stop them running. We couldn't play with any consistency on offense. They are a very good team. They're a very good defensive team.


I think the real key turning point in the game was when we had fourth-and-2 right before the half with 1:42 to go, and we punt the ball down to the 4-yard line and they go 96 yards and score right before the half. I think that was a real momentum change in the game.


We were trying to avoid just what happened, to give them the ball at midfield in that situation... To that point we had played pretty well on defense, and I did not think they would even get out of the hole. They ran the ball basically - five draw plays.


The draw play killed us pretty much all night, and we didn't have much consistency on offense. (We) didn't throw the ball effectively, didn't make any big plays, couldn't run the ball consistently and just got beat by a better football team.


Q: Was the fumble after the fake punt also a key turning point?

A: I don't think there's any question about it. That's a momentum changer in the game when you do the fake punt. We got great field position on it. We gain 7 yards on the (next) play and fumble the ball. I think if we score there – anything – the momentum of the game changes a little bit and comes back to us.

I think we are a better football team than what we played. We got beat by a better team tonight. We didn't capitalize and take advantage of opportunities that we had. (We) got a field goal blocked on the first drive.

That's a good football team and we could not overcome it. We did not make enough plays in the game to have a chance to win.


Q: What went into the decision to bring Rick Clausen into the game?

A: Rick's been playing a little bit better. Marcus is a young guy and we have all the confidence in the world in him, but we've been wanting to give Rick an opportunity to play and see how he would do.

We tried to go no-huddle for a series and kind of got a little bit unorganized offensively. So we thought we'd give Rick a chance a see what he'd do.


Q: Can you comment on Jack Hunt's play tonight?

A: I thought Jack really played well at Kentucky. I don't have any reason to think he didn't play well tonight. He was in the right spots most of the time. He made quite a few tackles. It's not good when your safeties have to make that many tackles, but I think he did a good job. He's filled in very well.


Q: Can you talk about your defense against the run? How frustrating was it for you?

A: It's very much (frustrating). I would say at least half the rushing yards they got were on what we call the turn draw, which is a play they ran last year. It's a play we worked very hard on in the game. They kept breaking the ball back all over the front side, back side, bouncing it out all the way back behind the defensive end on the other side.

We weren't keeping leverage on the ball and just didn't play the play very well. I think that was the play that gave us the most problems in the game. But obviously if you're physical on the line of scrimmage…you should be able to stop any play a lot better than we did that play.


Q: Penalties keep being…

A: …a problem. I think we had, what, six illegal procedures on offense, which are all things that set us back on the down and distance. We were having trouble hearing the cadence…we had to go silent. We thought it would be better if we could go on a cadence against these guys because they're physical up front and we'd get off the ball a little bit better.

But we had false starts and it really, really hurt us. Those types of things you cannot do and be a good football team. We weren't having those types of penalties earlier in the year, so we definitely need to have those things corrected. We had a couple bad snaps when we were in the gun.

But all in all, there's not one phase of this game that we don't need to improve on. There's not one phase that I can sit here and say I thought we did a good job in. Like always, we're all responsible for it. We need to have a better plan…of things that the players we have can do.

It was good to get Toe (LaBrandon Toefield) back. He made a couple of runs. Maybe we can do more and more with him. He got through the game and didn't get hurt.

Joseph Addai got a hip pointer. I think that's the only real injury that we have. Hopefully, we get a little healthier with the guys that are playing hurt.

It's disappointing that we didn't play better as a football team in the game, and I think we are a better team than we played.


Q: What was Alabama able to exploit in the middle that was opening things up for them?

A: The turn draw. They must have run it for 200 yards. They ran it five times on the 96-yard drive before the half.

We started being more aggressive on defense to try and take the gaps away, and I'm not sure that we didn't give up just as many plays doing that - trying to rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak.


Q: You said you had confidence in Marcus. Can you talk about his game?

A: We keep telling our offensive players we need to play well around our young inexperienced quarterbacks. I don't think we're doing that.

The penalties contribute to putting him in tougher situations. Our inability to run the ball as effectively as we did earlier in the season contributes to that. We've just got to improve on those things so it's easier for the quarterback to play in the game. There's less downs that you have to put it on his shoulders to make the play. That's when we played the best when we haven't had to do that.

But I also think we also need to play with more consistency at that position (quarterback) - make better throws, be more consistent in our decision making and judgment. And we'll work on it.

Look, we've still got a lot to play for. If we win our next two games, I still think we have a good chance to win the championship. I think we will. So that's what we've got to shoot for. That's what we've got to work for.

This is very disappointing, but we've still got a lot to work for and lot to improve on. We'll look at this game and just improve and try to get better – use it as an opportunity for the next game.


Q: Earlier in the week you said at least three of your defensive linemen were hurt. Facing what would be a must-win situation in the next two games, is there any chance you can get those guys better?

A: How do you want me to get them better?


Q: Is there a chance or not?

A: They're going to be as good can. They're working as hard as they can work and doing as well as they can do. Our injuries are not an excuse for the way we played. I don't want anyone to think that.

I think when you lose players, sometimes it has a cumulative effect on how it affects your team. We're just going to keep working the players that we have and try to get them better and put the best players out there that we can and get them to compete hard for 60 minutes in the game. 

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