Following Alabama’s dominant performance against LSU this weekend, Alabama coach Nick Saban opened up Mississippi State week with his weekly Monday press conference.
He started off by saying that watching the film really emphasized how “paying attention to detail” means so much to a team’s success. Saban again praised the way the team played and overcame adversity in the second half, and he said that the way the team was able to take control in the second half says a lot about the team’s character. He said how a team plays in the next game after a big game like the LSU game says a lot about a team, so it’s even more important for them to pay attention to detail and do the little things right this week.
Saban said that Mississippi State has a very good team and that their record may not show that but all five of their losses have come against top 20 teams. He said that they’ve played all of those teams competitively and you have to look past the record and see that they are very good. He praised their running game and said the defense was very physical and coached well.
He was asked about Tana Patrick’s big forced fumble early in the LSU game despite the fact that he hasn’t had a chance to play much in his career. Saban said that Tana has always done everything that was asked of him and he’s also been very upbeat and positive even if he hasn’t had a chance to play and he called that play a “huge play in the game.”
Saban said that Cyrus Jones did well against LSU’s talented receivers and he felt that he got a lot more confident as the game went on and played a lot better. Saban said that the defensive backs did a lot better job covering the receivers in the second half and they also got a lot better pass rush as well. Saban said that they have confidence in both Jones and Bradley Sylve.
In regards to why Jalston Fowler has been so effective in goal line situations as a receiver (he has five catches for four TDs this year) Saban said that it probably has a lot to do with teams also stacking against the run so much as well as him being very athletic and a good receiver. He said that Fowler is always one of the key guys in those goal line packages getting the big blocks so he’s very effective in that sense on play action.
Saban continued his public praise of AJ McCarron, saying that his leadership and his attitude of wanting more championship rings – not personal awards – is what you want from a leader and a quarterback. Saban also pointed to C.J. Mosley as a great leader that puts the team ahead of personal goals.
Saban addressed the special teams breakdowns against LSU and he said that kickoff coverage wasn’t great against Tennessee either. He said that the team misses Vinnie Sunseri on special teams and defense but others have to step up. Regarding a question to Sunseri’s health after he was spotted walking on the sidelines this weekend, Saban said it doesn’t matter if he was running around on the sidelines; he’s not going to be able to play for at least a couple of more months.
Finally Saban addressed the much talked about embrace with McCarron after the game and said he was so happy about the way the team responded in the second half and the way McCarron led the team in doing that. He said the atmosphere made things even more special and that it was an emotional moment for he and the team.
During player interviews receiver Kevin Norwood was asked about the ugly late hit on him in the second half.
“I was just like, really? What was that for? I really didn’t see him at the same time. Because when I caught the ball, dude had knocked me down on my knees and I thought I was already down. And then next thing I knew I felt somebody hit me. I was like, where’d you come from?”
Norwood said the hit didn’t really bother him and that he said that he felt LSU was probably happy this was his senior season.
“I’m pretty sure they’re gonna love seeing me go, but yeah I’m gonna definitely miss them.” Norwood has been thorn in LSU’s side ever since the 2011 BCS Championship game when, he abused defensive back Tyrann Mathieu relentlessly all night.
Norwood also commented on Saban’s excited embrace with McCarron after the LSU game and he said it was “funny” to him and he just saw it as Saban being very excited. McCarron was also asked about it and he said that it wasn’t out of character for Saban because he “cuts up” with the team and shows his personal side while the media only ever sees the serious, mad Coach Saban.
Back at practice, the top-ranked Crimson Tide were back in shells under a cool 72 degree Tuscaloosa day.
Tailback Alvin Kamara, who Saban said was gone from practice last week due to “behavioral reasons,” was back at practice today. Kamara along with Tyren Jones were wearing #27, meaning they will be playing the role of Mississippi State tailback LaDarius Perkins (433 yards, 2 TD) on the scout team. Derrick Henry and Altee Tenpenny were wearing #34 which is the number of State tailback Josh Robinson (258 yards, 2 TD)
Alabama’s freshmen quarterbacks were splitting #15 for Dak Prescott (1,542 yards, 7 TD, 7 INT passing; 722 yards, 10 TD rushing) and #17 for Tyler Russell (468 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT). Prescott, the primary starter in the split QB system, is hut and questionable for this weekend’s game.
Cornerback Bradley Sylve looked to be moving well this week and was a full participant at practice. Sylve has missed the past two games with an ankle injury but looks to be getting closer each day to being healthy.
Starting cornerback Deion Belue looks to be healthy again this week.
The weekly LaMichael Fanning watch still shows him absent from practice as he serves a suspension.
Alabama announced this week’s players of the week for the LSU game. Offensively, tailback T.J. Yeldon and right tackle Austin Shepherd were the players of the week while linebacker C.J. Mosley, safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and linebacker Trey Depriest were the defensive players of the week. Cade Foster and Jarrick Williams were the special teams players of the week. Mosley was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this year after his impressive game. Mosley is also currently a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award and Butkus Award.