Nick Saban Post-Game Quotes

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Nov. 27, 2009

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening statement...
"First off, both teams played really well. Auburn's team played extremely well, played with great tenacity. I have never been more proud of my football team. I said it would be our most significant and our greatest accomplishment if we came down here and won this game. Under the circumstances, like the short week and a tough offense to prepare for, they had a good football team that we were playing and then to get behind in the game 14-0, we never lost our poise and kept playing every play in the game. We gave up a big play in the second half and we just kept playing through it. That may have been one of the greatest drives I have ever been associated with in the fourth quarter to win the game. I just can't say enough about how proud I am of our team. I also can say I have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and the way they competed and the things they did today. I knew it would be tough at the start. When these guys go off from the script, they have all kinds of formations and plays, like double-passes, reverse passes. Most of it is stuff you haven't seen before. We knew we were going to have to play through it. They got the onside kick and got two scores ahead, but again this team is all about character, discipline, and overcoming adversity and perseverance by our players. If there is one thing our team has not been challenged by this year, it's that. We didn't play a great game today. It's a great win for our team and I have never been prouder of a team in terms of the way they won. We didn't play our best football and we need to learn from that, but at the same time the character that we showed and the resilience that we showed to overcome the adversity in the game, on the road, getting behind, I don't think you can say enough about the character, the competitive character, that this team showed today and that's what I am most proud of."

On the final touchdown play...
"They called run. I didn't just want to play for a field goal. I guess I tried talking them into throwing a pass and then we got out there and lined up, I wanted to throw a pass, so we called timeout to throw a pass and that's the way it went."

 

 

On what they can learn from today's game...
"I think that remains to be seen. I think that sometimes when you don't play well and win, guys have to be smart enough to learn from that. We didn't have a lot of emotion. We didn't play with a lot of passion. I can't really understand that. I am not sure if it is because of the short week, if we were tired or the distractions, but it was a difficult preparation. It says a lot about their team but I will say that I am most proud of my team and the way our guys competed in the game to overcome the adversity. We expected a tough game. We got a tough game and we overcame what we had to to win the game. I think this is the first team in Alabama history to win 12 games in two regular seasons in a row, so we kind of made history out there today. There was nothing that I could say. Only the strong survive, but the strong still get their ass whipped and that was my message to the team. I shouldn't use that kind of language but we did survive because of our character and resilience. You have to win games like that and I am proud of our team the way they did it."

On Julio Jones...
"I think Julio played his best game today because he made big plays in critical times of the game. Not big plays in terms of yards, but big catches that kept drives alive. He blocked and was very competitive. He's played better and better these last three-or-four games. He's healthy. He's fast. He's practicing better and I think he is playing with a lot more confidence. Hopefully we can get him the ball down the field more and he can make some big plays."

On winning off a short week...
"To win the state is a big, big thing for us. They know most of the guys on the other team. I know it's a big thing for our fans. I actually think the players need an emotional break. I think playing a game like this at the end of the year and being in the SEC Championship Game, I didn't like it that we had a short week this week but I like it because we have an extra day. It was hard to get our players back last year after a very emotional game in the last game of the season and then go right into the SEC Championship Game for another big emotional game. We are going to give them tomorrow off. We are going to stretch and stride on Sunday, which is an optional thing for the players to do. We are going to try and give them some time to recover. I don't think we have anyone injured badly. Mark (Ingram) has a hip-pointer. I didn't talk to the doctor to see how bad it was but he has to rest and recover and get back to playing good football."

On his decision to throw on the last play...
"We needed four yards. They were in goal-line defense and it's hard to gain four yards on one play. I felt like if we got into a goal-line formation they were going to think that we were going to run. Sometimes that's when you get the best plays. It is the easiest coverage to throw in because they are all coming to get the run, and that's exactly what happened. Greg (McElroy) made a good throw. It's a safe play."

On Javier Arenas punt return that led to a field goal...
"I think the biggest thing it did was flip the field position. We were struggling with field position. We were backed up. It was actually a block. We had our best opportunities when we pressured them because they had the blocks. Javier made a great individual effort. Our kickoff return was big too after they scored to get the field position again."

On what worked on the final drive...
"We drove the ball but we had to convert on several third downs. We finished our blocks a little bit better. They played a lot of eight-man fronts and a lot of double-synch, which they haven't done that much before. They certainly played a whole lot today to stop the run. I think when you get in a situation like that it's a little more difficult when it's a run-pass type of deal. Not that we were in the two-minute offense. It was the end of the game so they were a little bit softer and we were able to run it a little bit better and keep throwing it on third down."

On the defense down the stretch...
"I thought it was big when they got the ball on the 45-yard line after we were backed up. We got tackled for a loss and sacked on third down which kind of pushed us back. The defense played pretty well in the second half except for the big play (Darvin Adams' touchdown). We had a corner fire and he ran a double-pattern. He looked at the quarterback and it was a big play, but other than that I thought after the first quarter the defense played pretty well the rest of the game except for that play. They had a lot of big plays and they didn't let them drive the ball."

On adjusting to trick plays...
"We made some adjustments, we always make adjustments. I think the biggest thing is the players settled down. And that is the biggest thing, to get the players settled down. On the reverse we rotated the coverage wrong and we had no run support over there. They motioned a guy in the backfield, which we should have gone from one rotation to the other and we didn't do it. It's just a matter of all that stuff that they see and making the proper adjustments. Once they start to see it, you can show it to them and they kind of understand it and don't make mental errors, I think that's the biggest thing. We have to keep the side boards on the defense on those kinds of plays and don't let them run the ball inside, which we did. It was the big plays that really made the difference and they did a good job of executing. I am not taking anything away from them but we didn't always play it exactly right. It was their formation variation and that probably created some of the mistakes."

On Greg McElroy's play...
"He did a good job in this situation. That was a great drive. I think when you make those plays on third down, I think everyone gave him the opportunity to do that. We didn't always have an opportunity to do that today. We didn't protect him real well at times. We didn't get open like we needed to. There were a couple of times where he could have made a couple of better decisions but he made all the right decisions in the critical times of the game. I think that's what great competitors do. He has been a great competitor for us all year long."

On Auburn stopping the run...
"They played eight-man fronts. They were in a lot of double-sync. I think when people play in that, they anticipate. We probably weren't as prepared for it as we should have been."

On the team's confidence during the final minute...
"I know it is something that our team hasn't been challenged with. You just play the next play. You just have to go with the play that will give you the opportunity to make the most success out of the next play. That's what we tell our players all the time and that's probably why they didn't lose their poise when they got behind and it's probably why they didn't lose their poise at the end of the game and they made plays to win the game. You just focus on the next play, finish that play. Every play has a history and a life of its own and you have to focus on that play regardless of what happened on the last play. I think that that sort of resonates with our players. That's how you compete, that's how you play. I think that's how you look at it. You just play the game and you get the result. I think that's the best way to compete. Everything is based on the results. Great competitors can play in that moment and great teams can play in that moment. I am not saying we have a great team, I am just saying that our team is able to do that tonight. That was important and us finishing that game was important to get the win."