Coach Sylvester Croom Post-Game Quotes

HEAD COACH SYLVESTER CROOM: "First, I'd like to congratulate Nick Saban and the Alabama team. They're undefeated and I wish them well the rest of the season. We gave up 16 points in the kicking game, and that's pretty much the ballgame. Sixteen points in the kicking game and that's it."

"Our defense played them very, very strongly. Something we wanted to do was to move the football, and buy some time to give our defense a chance to rest. But again, when you give up the points we gave up in the kicking game, it just put a lot of pressure on both units. I mean, that was just critical errors on our part there. You can't give those guys points, can't give them anything. And that's what happened."

Q: Was there any common theme on (Javier) Arenas' two punt returns? "Yeah, he got the ball." Q: Nothing you guys did in particular? "He got the ball."

Q: You were trying to kick away from him ever punt? "He got the ball."

Q: Did the changes on the offensive line do any good? "We put the best five offensive linemen we had out there. The best five. That's the best five we've got."

Q: Can you update the injuries? "(DT) Jessie Bowman has a torn quad tendon, my guestimation is he's out for the season. They are going to have to operate on him."

Q: Were you looking for a change of pace playing Wes Carroll in the third quarter? "We wanted to run the option, we got a nice gain on the first one and they made some adjustments to some things. The clock got us, time was running out, we had to throw the football. But we had planned to use Wes some running the option. Tyson's OK on it but Wes is better. We wanted to get our option game in there. They were using that blitz package and we felt like the option might counter some of their blitzes. That was part of the game plan coming in."

SPECIAL TEAMS COACH REED STRINGER: "He's a great returner. We knew that going in. We had a gameplan of trying to kick the ball away from him and for the most part we did. I thought the first one he had, I thought it was a decent punt that when you're backed-up it's always a tough situation. We tried to protect it and to kick it; it bounced right to him and he's a great player, he made a great play. Then on the second one we didn't put the ball where we were supposed to put it. That's my fault, I'm the one that called to kick the ball where it was kicked, and he took it untouched 70 yards. But that's what great players do. Him and his punt return unit deserve all the credit."

Q: What did you see on the blocked punt? "Once again, backed-up you try to some things because you know they're either going to rush it or try to return it. It's a tough situation either way. In that situation we did try to do a directional kick, we had a guy come off the edge, I think the snap was a little high. But we just didn't get the ball off. I'll have to watch it a little bit more to find out exactly happened."

"But it was a bunch of breakdowns, guys. That's all my responsibility, to get them understanding what to do and get them executing and then they've got to go out there and make plays. We're going to work hard this week to get that done and we're going to bounce back and play well next week."

Q: How much of Blake's problems came from the pressure on the kicks? "You know for the most part I thought he did a decent job on directional kicks all night. The one they returned for a touchdown, that wasn't Blake. That was me more than anything. But we did have a new snapper (Anthony Bowles) out there this week, that was his first game to ever start, I think he's got one snap before in a game. But he was as fifth-year senior and I thought he did a really good job under these conditions. But maybe wanting to protect a little more spooked me, because the kid performed. I'll take the blame and I've got to find a way to get these kids to bounce back and continue to believe in what we're doing. Because they've done a good job all year, I think that's the first punt return we've given in two years. But we've got to continue to do what we're doing, get better at what we're doing, and I've got to give the kids credit. They're playing hard, we just didn't get the job done today."

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