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Head Coach Nick Saban - Mississippi week

Opening statement:

“The Vanderbilt game was a tale of two teams. We didn’t play very well in the first half. I think this is probably a pretty good example of how average you can be when you don’t do things the way you need to do them—finish plays, finish blocks, make mental errors, don’t tackle well. Most of that stuff comes from the mental intensity that you have going into the game, but I was really pleased with the way the team responded at halftime. (We) played much, much better in the second half and did a really good job. (We) went three and out, took a 94-yard drive to score, which was pretty dominant on our players’ part.  (We) responded pretty well and played really well in the second half. Obviously, not turning the ball over is real critical. Getting a couple of turnovers in the second half was really good. We threw the ball pretty effectively in the game and didn’t have a lot of negative plays. That’s something that we need to continue to work on as a team. We’ve got to eliminate some of the mistakes, especially early, as a team so that we can execute and get a good start.”                                                                     

“(Marquis) Maze did a good job with the catches that he had.  Brad Smelley, (Michael) Williams, both those guys did a great job of blocking. Defensively, Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower had lots of production points. Special teams, Cade (Foster) and DeQuan Menzie both did a pretty good job on special teams.”

“From an injury standpoint, C.J. Mosley will start back practicing today. Eddie (Lacy) probably (will start) tomorrow. Chris Jordan, we’re going to try again and see what happens. I think Arie (Kouandjio) may be out indefinitely, and may even be a guy that needs to have surgery, so he could possibly be out for the year.”

“This is going to be a very challenging game for us. We’ve had some really tough games with these guys over the years. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Houston Nutt and the kind of coach that he is, the way he utilizes the personnel that he has. They certainly played their best game of the year in their last game against Fresno State. They have a lot of talented players. They have a lot of returning starters on offense. They’re actually playing better on defense from the standpoint of not giving up as many points. They have been really good on special teams. They’ve had some big plays, punt returns. I think they’re leading the nation in punt returns, and it’s because of the explosive skill guys that they have. (Randall) Mackey was the quarterback in the last game, which is a little different style than what they had before, and they seemed to play pretty well from that standpoint. I think Houston Nutt is one of the best coaches in our league and has done a really good job wherever he has been, and I think he’s doing a really good job with this team so far.”

On the relationship between center William Vlachos and defensive tackle Josh Chapman:

“Both guys have been very, very productive players here for a long time, and I think that probably both of them would tell you that they have a tremendous amount of respect for the other guy, because they have practiced against each other their entire careers here, and they both have probably made the other guy a better player because they’re both pretty good at what they do. They’re great competitors, and they challenge each other.  Both guys have some leadership qualities about them and some leadership skills to affect other people. I think who they are probably has made both much better at what they do.”

On the importance of not turning the ball over:

“I think it’s really important. I think we put the ball on the ground a couple of times late in the game this past week, but that’s something we cannot do – any place that we play. I think making good choices and decisions is very critical. Everybody having ball security awareness is very, very important and is something that we emphasize a lot, and especially after the first game, we really emphasized it. The players have responded, and we have not turned the ball over, so that’s something that we need to continue to pay attention to detail on because I think turnover ratio is a critical factor, the most critical factor, statistical factor, in winning and losing.”

On how coaches teach players to not turn the ball over:

“Well we tell them to take what the defense gives you. You don’t throw the ball into tight coverage, and you don’t throw the ball places where it shouldn’t be, and you’ve got to be patient. If you have to throw a check-down, throw a check-down. Our guys have done a pretty good job of that. AJ [McCarron] has done, for the most part, a pretty good job of putting the ball into the right place. That’s what we coach. I don’t think anybody coaches turnovers, but it comes down to judgment. I don’t know of any baseball managers that teach guys to swing at balls out of the strike zone, but some guys do it a lot more than others, and it comes down to judgment. Ball security is an awareness fundamentally that every player that handles the ball has to have so that we don’t have turnovers.”

On how a deep touchdown pass may have helped quarterback AJ McCarron’s confidence:

“You ought to ask him, you know, when you get a chance. I know I don’t make him available to you, but I’m sure it helped his confidence. I didn’t ask him, and I really don’t know. I think it really helped DeAndrew White’s confidence to catch a couple of balls in the game, and I think anytime you have a productive performance and a positive performance it helps guys with their confidence, but the most important thing is that they continue to believe and do the things that they need to do to play winning football at their position. Hopefully, making those kind of plays are things we can do in the future by making good choices and decisions about when we try and get it in there.”

On what was said to the team at halftime:

“Well I probably got after them about as good as I’ve done all season, and they responded. It’s like everything else you do. If it works, it was right. If it doesn’t work, it wasn’t right. So whatever we did worked because the players responded. But it’s really more about them, than about what I did. We try to be positive with our guys. I believed that they would respond, and they did.”

On if the high level of production by wide receiver Marquis Maze was expected:

“He’s one of the most explosive guys we have on offense, so we are making a conscious effort to get him the ball, and he does a good job with the ball in his hands. Whether he catches short balls, and he’s a very good runner with it, that’s a big part of what we do on offense, so his production and performance is important because we’re putting him in positions to try and get him the ball. It’s not surprising to me that he has the production that he has, and we want more and more players to put themselves in a position where we can have balanced production with some of those guys as well.”

On what goes on during the halftime of a game:

“Nobody’s resting about anything. The first thing is that the coaches meet on adjustments that we need to make. That probably lasts three or four minutes. We probably meet six or eight minutes with the players in general, and go over every issue that we’ve had on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Then each individual coach takes his players probably for a couple of minutes, to specifically talk about things that they may have to adjust to, and then probably a minute or two prior to going out, I’ll say what I have to say. That’s pretty much what happens, and it’s pretty much the same all the time.”

On running back Jalston Fowler:

“He did a nice job in the game. He’s a little bit different style than the other guys, but is very effective, very strong, runs behind his pads, and probably has a much, much better sort of understanding and confidence of what is expected of him at his position now, in the passing game as well as in the running game. He did a nice job in the game, so we’re pleased with the progress that he’s made.”

On how wide receiver Duron Carter is adjusting to being redshirted:

“He does a good job in practice. He works hard. I think that all players in that position should be focused on responsibility, to first of all, understand why they’re in the position they’re in. What they could’ve done differently, and how they can improve themselves in the future, so they don’t have to deal with any consequences by making good choices and decisions about what they do, and what they don’t do, and how they finish things, how they get things done, and be responsible. He’s responded pretty well to that to this point.”

On how Terry Saban enjoyed co-hosting the homecoming parade broadcast:

“I didn’t catch any of it. Maybe with the way we played in the first half, maybe I should have spent the day watching her, and gone and helped her out or something, or maybe she should have been trying to help me out. One or the other.  But she really enjoyed doing it. I didn’t get the blow-by-blow, but I know she really enjoys doing it. She looks forward to it. She likes the traditions and pageantry of college football, and homecoming is certainly one of those. She really had a lot of fun doing that.”

On his thoughts about the taunting rule that can take a touchdown off the scoreboard:

“I’m not here to evaluate the call, so I don’t really have anything to comment about that. Every player knows what the rule is. Every player has been told what the rule is. Every player has been shown what the rule is. We all accepted it as a rule to try and promote sportsmanship in our game, which I think is very, very important, and the players know the consequences of doing these things before they score and after they score, so I don’t think somebody else should be blamed for that. I’m not criticizing any players. I’m not evaluating the call. I would not be happy at all if it happened to us, but I would probably more disappointed in the player than in the call. I’m not evaluating LSU’s player, or anything else. I’m just telling you about our players because they’ve all been told what the consequences are, and when they make the choice and decision to do it, they put themselves at risk for those consequences affecting the team, so who should be responsible for that?”

#35 Nico Johnson, Linebacker

On his finger:

“It’s good now. I just dislocated it during the Florida game.”

On his thoughts on the win over Vanderbilt:

“The first half, we got off to a rocky start. We didn’t have any intensity or focus whatsoever, but we came out in the second half and tried to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we could play with that intensity and focus all the time, and that’s what we did.”

On the success of the defense so far this season:

“We still have a lot to improve on. We make mistakes here and there. On that note though, we just try to improve every week, and keep improving because if we do things right, it’ll take care of itself.”

On the differences in this defense compared with the 2009 defense:

“I think this defense is unique. In ’09, you had a lot of leadership on that team. There’s a lot of leadership on this team, but I think there are more people on this team that are familiar with the defense than there were in ’09. The ’09 defense was good, but I think everyone on this defense is familiar with everything, so that helps out a lot.”

On the main reason this defense is so good:

“From everything that happened last year, we learned from those mistakes and are trying to not let them happen again.”

On whether practice is more intense this year, or if it’s a change in mindset from last year:

“It’s a mindset. Everyone wants to get the job done. Like I said, with everything that happened last year, we refuse to let that happen again, so if it’s practice, a walkthrough, whatever, we’re going to give everything we’ve got and have 100 percent focus, but the first half of the game Saturday, we didn’t have that, and it showed.”

On something the defense can still get better at:

“Just having fun. Having fun while working on intensity and focus. One thing the coaches have been preaching to us all season is execution because we’ve been having busts here or busts there, and we shouldn’t have those mistakes because we have more experience on this defense.”

On what he knows about Mississippi:

“I don’t know that much, and I haven’t watched that much film, but I will after practice today and we’ll be ready to roll.”

#99 Josh Chapman, Defensive Lineman

 On what your week was like after Tuesday and Wednesday following the Sports Illustrated cover release:

“It was a pretty good week. After Tuesday we had a lot of name calling, but it is what it is.”

On holding Vanderbilt to under 100 yards rushing:

“It means a lot to us. One thing we pride ourselves on here is running the football, and that’s what went out there and did. We made them one-dimensional.”

On what they’ve done this year to limit guys on the ground:

“We have just basically gone out and done our standard of football, which is stopping the run and stopping the pass and being physical for 60 minutes.”

On defensive line expectations at the beginning of the season:

“We took it as a challenge, but we also pride ourselves on getting better every day. I feel like we have a great group of guys, and all we have is all we need.”

On where the defensive unit is six games into the season:

“We still have a lot of work to do. We have a lack of communication out on the field. It’s something we have to get clicking. We are bonding well, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

On what the locker room was like at halftime against Vanderbilt:

“We kind of came out slow, but we cranked it up to our standards. Everybody got their mind right. That’s how we should have come out in the first half. It only takes three minutes to get your mind right. We basically just go over mistakes that people made on the field and how to handle those. We start as a group then go into individual units then come together as a team again. One thing about Coach Saban is that he’s going to be fired up at every game during halftime. We can always expect that from him.”

On being good in both halves, not just the second half:

“We have to focus. We are playing hard competition in the SEC. Vanderbilt is a great team, and we just didn’t come out playing to our standards.”

 #4 Marquis Maze, Wide Receiver

 On his foot still being an issue:

“I’m still having problems with it, but I don’t think it is affecting my play. I don’t think it will slow me down. It’s just a nagging injury.”

On having 31 catches so far this season:

“I didn’t even know how many catches I had. I’m not focused on that. I’m just worried about winning.”

On being involved early Saturday night:

“It’s always good to get the ball early and get the game going, and to get myself going. I think other guys stepped up too. DeAndrew White played well. He had a confidence boost in the game. Now that he made those plays, he knows he can do that.”

On how it helps to have another receiver step up:

“It helps a lot. Darius Hanks also did a wonderful job in the passing game early. Now teams won’t be able to roll their coverage as much knowing that we have guys out there that can make the plays.”

On when he feels the most dangerous:

“I think if I get the ball in my hands early, I don’t think the first guy will make the tackle.”

On his favorite pattern:

“The crossing route under the linebackers. I get the ball early and make plays with my feet. It’s dangerous, but I’m a dangerous player. I’m not afraid to go in and get tackled by those guys.”

#3 Trent Richardson, Running Back

On how he felt after this game:

“I felt pretty good. I think it’s just my mindset going into each game each week. It’s a mind game. I feel really good after last week at the Florida game too. This time last year I was all beat up. The offensive line is doing a tremendous job of keeping guys off me.”

On how Jalston Fowler did:

“He did really well. Nobody wants to step in front of him with all that weight he’s carrying and all that muscle power he brings to the game. He’s pretty fast for a big guy. He did really good on his cuts and his vision’s getting better and better every day.”

On getting Eddie Lacy back in the game:

“It’s going to mean a lot, especially in practice. We can’t wait to get him back out there because we are a better force with him out there on the field. Eddie does a really good job with what he does.”

On pride of not fumbling:

“It’s a real big pride of ours because we had a couple of fumbles last year. It is one thing coach emphasized to us, and that’s what we try to make ourselves better at. If we fumble that ball, we are going to be sitting on the bench somewhere, so we don’t want that to happen.”

On what happens on the sidelines after a fumble:

“Everybody just tries to stay positive. I get after myself though. I criticize myself to make sure I don’t forget. We try to turn every negative into a positive.”

On not having turnovers:

“It makes us dominate in the game. When you turn the ball over it changes the whole momentum and mindset. You think about that play, but you have to go on to the next one.”

On having five straight 100 yard games, the school record being six, what it would mean to make that:

“I don’t think about it. If it happens, then the offensive line made their mark. I don’t ever say I, because it’s not a me thing. I think we are doing well the way we are rushing the ball. We are a balanced offense. We got to pass the ball a lot the last game, and that was a major plus for AJ (McCarron) and the receivers. I was glad to see that everybody got to showcase their talents.”  



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