Exerpts from the post-practice interview with Head Coach Bob Toledo...
The Alabama depth chart was released today. Any surprises?
"No. The linebackers, they were talking about moving them but I don't think they did. No surprises."
What do you do about Freddie Milons?
"He's a talented athlete. He makes big plays and somehow we have to control him. Obviously, in the kicking game, he's huge. We wanted to kick away from him last year, and the first punt we kicked it right down the middle of the two hash marks. That won't happen again, hopefully. They didn't throw the ball real well in that game last year, but Ricky Manning did a nice job of covering him. We'll probably match up Ricky on him a lot in this game, too."
What do you do to prepare for the rain?
"We're expecting it. Again, we're not used to it. They keep the balls fairly dry though, unless it's a downpour and then it becomes a problem. I'm constantly telling these guys, don't worry about the heat, don't worry about the humidity, don't worry about the rain, just go out and play. The more you talk about it, the more you worry about it, the more of a problem it becomes."
With many players missing time on defense, have they looked cohesive so far this week?
"It appears that way. I talked to Phil [Snow] just a while ago and he said they were much improved over yesterday. Anytime you put a game plan in, Monday is always raggedy, Tuesday is raggedy. Then we go in and show them the film, they watch the film and they improve every day until we get to game time. We coach them all the way to game time, and hopefully they continue to get better. And then next week we start again. But they're healthy, that's the main thing. At least they can be on the field to perform."
Will you prepare to defend many different kinds of formations?
"We think the'll line up in a lot of different formations. They use a lot of formations, a lot of motion, at least they did at TCU. We expect him to do quite a few things."
You were quite a bit more intense on the practice field today. Is there a reason?
"I want the tempo to be a little faster because I think the game is going to be a fast tempo, so I was trying to push them to pick it up and go faster. I constantly tell them I'm going to make them do what they don't want to do to be what they want to be. So, I push them constantly in practice to work hard. It's game week."
What do you think about the freshman, Matt Ware, in his first start?
He's obviously a gifted athlete. But the concussion set him back, from a learning standpoint. He's a talented kid and we're going to start him. We know that he'll probably make some mistakes because he's young and inexperienced. He'll be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. But we think down the road he's going to be a heck of a player for us. Hopefully real soon. It will be big for him. It's not quite like Loyola High School lining up against Long Beach Poly."
What Alabama players have you recognized as standouts?
[Victor] Ellis the linebacker had a heck of a game against us last year. [Kindal] Morehead, the end, he was hurt last year and we didn't see much of him. He's a concern. Milons, and [Terry] Jones, the tight end, is a heck of a player."
Are you preparing differently for two different quarterbacks?
"Not really. They're really pretty similar. One just does something a little better than the other. They are more similar than they are not similar. One's a little better passer, so you have to anticipate they'll use them differently."
Freshman Matt Ware comments…
On playing in such a big game for his first start as a true freshman…
"Well, when we played against Long Beach Poly in the CIF final, I think that was about 25,000. So that was pretty big, even though I know it's not like this is going to be. I know it's going to be crazy. They're going to yelling all kinds of stuff at us, throwing stuff. I know it's going to happen but might be like with the Long Beach Poly game I'll get into a zone."
On being nervous this week before the game and trying not to think about potential mistakes…
"I really try not to think about any mistakes, just try to think about my assignments. I thought about it earlier, on Sunday I was nervous, but Monday I came out and was feeling hyped, and I went out there and practiced to get ready for the game, and that helps. To focus."
On how he's recovering from the concussion…
"I'm good, no more headaches. I feel really good.
On the defense coming together…
"It was a little slow Monday, but today was a much better practice. We're going to be good."
On Alabama going at him…
"I guarantee the first play will be at me. But that's why I'm out here practicing hard, to get prepared, and to go out there and do my best."