Head Coach Nick Saban
First of all you have got to give Auburn's team a lot of credit for coming back in the game and doing a great job in the second half. This team's been challenging all year in terms of the progress that they have made and the maturity that they've gained. I'm pleased with the progress that we made, but we didn't finish the game today. When you play against good teams you're going to have to play for 60 minutes. We knew that we were going to have to do that in the second half. These kinds of teams don't go away and there are a lot of lessons to be learned out there about how important finishing is and continuing to do things correctly. There's a lot to learn about how you ensure success, and to ensure success, you've got to finish things. You've got to continue with the intensity and the passion.
I thought our players came out with a great plan in the first half and did a good job of executing it. They squandered some opportunities which were critical to the outcome of the game. Things like fumbling the ball right before the half. Another time we had the ball right inside the 20 when Mark (Ingram) fumbled. We got down there in the red zone a couple times and couldn't score and had to kick field goals.
We're pleased with the progress that this team made. We're not always pleased. Are we satisfied with the results that we got, especially in this game, which means so much to so many people? I'm responsible for the fact that we didn't finish the way we needed to. We didn't make the plays that we needed to at the end of the game.
Our fans have been tremendous to us all year and they were tremendous to us today. It was a great atmosphere out there and this team will learn and grow from this. Hopefully when we get another opportunity we'll be able to be a better team because of some of the lessons we learned today. It was tough for us.
We lost Julio (Jones) with a bruised knee. In the second half Hanks had bruised ribs. So our receiving corps was a little bit down. It was a little bit tough for us. Greg (McElroy) has a concussion, he's going to be okay. I think he's okay. It's nothing serious. He's checked out good, so we don't have any issues or problems from that standpoint.
On the play of the offensive line:
Some of the time we did a good job, and some of the time we allowed too much pressure. We totally whiffed on the sack right before the half that caused the fumble, which took points off the board. I thought we moved the ball well; moving the ball was not the issue. We had enough offensive yards, we just didn't capitalize when we got in the red zone.
On limiting Auburn's rushing attack:
In the first half, I thought we did a really good job. In the second half, it wasn't that we were doing things that were different, they just did a little better job. Their backs did a better job. They made a couple of, not big play runs, but runs. I thought the difference in the game was the big plays. The big play on the second play of the second half, we had it defended and misplayed the ball. Explosive plays are something they do extremely well. One of our goals was to stop the run, but not give up explosive plays. We were in the split safety coverage on that play, so we should be able to defend the pass. Even though we stopped the run, we didn't get it done because we didn't stop the explosive plays. We didn't stop the run as well in the second half as we needed to. We didn't create any negative down-and-distance in the second half.
On the difference between the offense in the first and second halves :
I thought we did a really good job of keeping them off balance in the first half. We threw the ball effectively, and we wanted to do the same thing in the second half, but we kind of lost our receivers at one point. We tried to run a little bit because of the circumstance we ended up in. Their defense played better in the second half, and we didn't execute as well when we had opportunities. You have to give them some credit. We did a really good job of attacking them on the perimeter in the first half, and we probably didn't do that enough in the second half.
On the first half play of quarterback Greg McElroy and wide receiver Julio Jones :
They did a great job. That was about as fine a first half of offensive football we have played in a long time against a good team. But the two scoring opportunities that we squandered were the difference. The ball was on about the 4-yard line right before the half, and Mark (Ingram) had the ball on about the 20-yard line when the ball was punched out and rolled through the back of the end zone to give them the ball back. Those two opportunities were huge. Relative to the production we had, we didn't get as many points as we could have.
#41 Courtney Upshaw Linebacker
On what allowed him a career game:
I just had the mindset to go in and dominate. It's Auburn. I'm like an hour away from Auburn and the whole town is full of Auburn fans. I just wanted to get out and prove that Alabama is the real deal. We just couldn't pull out the win.
On what allowed the defense to stop Cam Newton from running the ball:
We were motivated. We had that one drive that nothing was going to keep us from getting to him. We knew that we had to shut him down from all the talk about Cam and the Auburn Tigers. We knew that if we shut him down we would have a big chance to win.
#57 Marcell Dareus Defensive Lineman
On what was different in the second half:
We just lost focus as a team. It wasn't so much just the front. I think we lost focus as a team just getting after it, fitting our gaps and getting the run fits. We just lost focus.
On what was working early in the game:
Anticipation. We were ready to go. We came in at half time and made some adjustments. Some people got comfortable and started getting lackadaisical going out there and doing other things instead of what they were doing the first time – not keeping the intensity to stay focused.
#73 William Vlachos Offensive Lineman
On not being able to put Auburn away:
It's extremely frustrating. We came out firing, hitting on all cylinders, but credit to them. They fought back and made the plays that they had to make to win the game. When we go and look at the film we're going to see that they're a very good team, but it's going to be the stuff that we did that kept us from winning the game and continuing to score points on offense. It's extremely frustrating with the miscues in the red zone that we had, but those aren't one guy's fault, that's everybody's fault. We have a lot to play for still. Hopefully we'll get to go to a good bowl game and hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of the time we have coming up to get better and continue to improve.
On the passing game early:
They had some weaknesses in their secondary, but we knew for us to be able to throw the ball we were going to have to block them up front. Overall, I think we did a good job with their talented front. (Nick Fairley) made some plays on a couple of miscues. There are a couple miscues where he maybe got a sack or two – and the sack and fumble was huge – but I think overall we protected decently well when we threw the ball. We didn't protect as well as we needed to in the second half, and there was a lot of stuff open. We just have to get to the film room and watch to see what we need to do better.
#22 Mark Ingram Running Back
On the game:
I feel like we played with a lot of effort, but we just didn't finish. The program is built on finishing, and I feel like we gave them the game – it's that simple.
On the offense in the first half:
Things were clicking. Everybody was in sync. The timing was good, and we were just executing the plays that were called.
On how the team can rebound:
Get better. We need to put this past us and put it behind us and get ready for the bowl game.