Alabama Crimson Tide Monday (10/07) Interviews and Practice Notes


Oct 5, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Dee Hart (1) carries the ball up the field against Georgia State Panthers linebacker Kight Dallas (33) during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium.  John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Saban Monday Press Conference

As he does every Monday, Nick Saban opened up Kentucky week with his noon press conference. He started off by talking about the Georgia State game, praising the way the team competed, but also saying that the team needs to continue to focus on improving, as the path will get harder as the season goes on.

Saban spoke about the young players, saying that they were able to get some much-needed experience but that everyone seems to want “immediate self gratification,” but they need to continue to work to improve and make progress as players as it’s not about how much playing time they get but how well they perform when they do get to play.

As far as injuries go, linebacker/defensive end Denzel Devall was the only player that Saban said would be limited in practice this week because of a slight knee injury he suffered against GSU. Saban believes he’ll be ready for the Kentucky game. Ryan Kelly will continue to sit out this week as he rehabs his knee injury.

Saban turned his attention to this week’s opponent and said that he feels Kentucky is a good team, and they’ve played everyone tough so far this year. He praised the toughness that new coach Mark Stoops has brought to the team and talked about the two quarterback system Kentucky has used thus far this season, saying that both players bring something different to the table.

Regarding DeAndrew White’s highlight reel one-handed catch against GSU Saban called it a “fantastic catch,” but focused more on the type of effort he puts forth in practice and how he has completely bought into the “process.” He said that White is a very explosive player and has done a great job for the team. Kevin Norwood equally earned Saban’s praise saying he was great in practice as well as being extremely tough and consistent. He said that Norwood can be counted on in big situations in big games and AJ has a lot of confidence in him. Christion Jones was the third receiver to earn the praise of the head coach calling him a “quick, fast slot receiver that’s really hard to cover” and said that he has a lot of positive attributes that are a bit different than the other receivers. He said that all of the different receivers bring something to the table which is what helps make it such a good group.

Saban spoke about a meeting he had with quarterback AJ McCarron before the GSU game. He said that he told AJ not to try and force things to happen that aren’t there and think that he has to do it all himself. He said AJ doesn’t make a lot of poor decisions because he’s willing to make great choices on where he throws the ball, and that it shows his efficiency and effectiveness as a QB.

The expected question about off the field issues came up and he said that the organization doesn’t worry about anyone else outside’s perception of what’s going on as long as they feel like that they are doing the right things. He said everyone has to realize that there are consequences for the choices one makes and if he were to protect players by not giving them consequences for bad choices is doing them a disservice. He said that a person’s character determines the choices one makes and that’s what the team promotes with the players and the “me first” mentality in society is very hard to work on a football team. He said that the players have to understand that they have to put the team first and buy into the principles and values of the team.

An odd question came up regarding Paul Bryant Jr., obviously the son of the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, asking Saban how much influence Bryant Jr. has in the program. Saban called him a “great supporter of the university” and said that he has done a lot to enhance the school with his support, but that he has never attempted to “meddle” in any part of the football program while he’s been with the university. The follow up question was even more silly as the reporter suggested that Bryant Jr. has been alleged to have some questionable business dealings outside the University (I believe he’s been accused of some type of fraud at some point) and asked if that concerns Saban. Saban seemed annoyed, as should be expected for a ridiculous question, and said he had no knowledge of anything he’s suggesting and had no business commenting on it.

Saban said that it’s been a bit disappointed that the defense hasn’t forced more turnovers thus far this year and that the coaches emphasize the importance of getting turnovers. He said that it’s a focus of the defense and that they will continue to teach and work at to try and make it an advantage for the defense.

Regarding Blake Sims and his performance in the past game Saban said he was very effective and pointed out that he is able to do a lot of things different than any of the other quarterbacks on the team can because of his athleticism, but that he wanted to see Sims run Alabama’s regular offense. Saban told offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeir not to call any quarterback runs and to just run the regular offense with Sims in the game. Saban said that he did a “very good job” of running the offense and that on things he needed to work on is being more consistent in his cadence at the line of scrimmage and command of the offense. Saban feels that the experience he gained against GSU helped in realizing that he doesn’t have to always have to try and make a play with his feet.

A question about Mrs. Terry, Nick Saban’s wife, hosting the homecoming parade was greeted with a rare smile from Saban. He said that Mrs. Terry truly enjoys Alabama and really enjoys homecoming and loves the band. Saban said that everyone is fortunate to have someone like Mrs. Terry that is as passionate as she is about the community. Another smile crept across his face as he described the pointers that Mrs. Terry constantly gives him about the team suggesting that they need to blitz more and stop running up the middle “all the time.”

Player Interviews

Following Saban’s press conference McCarron spoke to the media as well. He said that defenses are trying to take away the deep ball so he needs to continue to take what the defense is giving him. After receiving a question about Amari Cooper’s rough start this season McCarron said he can’t speak for Amari so he doesn’t know how his injured toe is affecting him.

McCarron said that having Christion Jones in the offense is a huge benefit because most of the time teams try and cover him in the slot with a safety or linebacker which he’s always going to be faster than so they end up having to bring in a third cornerback which gives the offense more options in the running game.

Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio also spoke to the media and humorously spoke of his goal to score an offensive TD. “Sooner or later before it’s all said and done, I will get a touchdown as an offensive lineman” he said of his goal, and then when asked about his athletic dive for a Brian Vogler fumble against Ole Miss he said that if it was the NFL he would have scored, “but since I was down they wouldn’t let me pick it back up. I was pretty upset about it…that’s life.”

Alabama released its players of the week for the GSU game and AJ McCarron, Cyrus Kouandjio, and DeAndrew White were the offensive players of the game. On defense Xzavier Dickson, CJ Mosley, and A’Shawn Robinson were the defensive players of the game and on special teams Cade Foster, Dee Hart, and Dillon Lee were the players of the week. CJ Mosley has been named a defensive player of the week in every single game so far this year.

Practice Notes

Alabama opened up practice for Kentucky week outside in shells (helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts) on a cool day that very much felt like fall for the first time.

As expected linebacker Denzel Devall wore a black, non-contact jersey and was worker with a trainer to the side during drills. Center Ryan Kelly was no wear to be seen as he rehabbed his knee inside the Alabama facilities.

Suspended safety HaHa Clinton-Dix continues to practice fully with the team and was working with the first team as usual.

Cornerback Eddie Jackson and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan both practiced fully and didn’t seem to be slowed up. Pagan injured his shoulder last week in practice and did not play against Georgia State while Jackson rolled his ankle early against GSU.

Freshman defensive back Jonathan Cook was working with the safeties for the first time today. He came to Alabama as a cornerback and has worked with the scout team for all of 2013 thus far. This may be a depth move more than anything with Nick Perry injured and HaHa suspended.

Other Notes

The SEC announced today that Alabama’s October 19th game with Arkansas will kickoff at 6:00 PM (central) on either ESPN or ESPN2. The LSU vs. Ole Miss game will also kickoff at 6 on either ESPN or ESPN2. ESPN will decide the week of the game which game will air on ESPN and which will air on ESPN2.