Saban holds post-Iron Bowl news conference

Nick Saban goes for the Crimson blazer for Monday's news conference.
Nick Saban goes for the Crimson blazer for Monday's news conference.

Here's what Alabama head football coach Nick Saban had to say Monday, two days after beating the Auburn Tigers in the Iron Bowl:

"After watching the game film, the game was obviously really important to our players in terms of how we competed and the way we played. I think both teams did, but I was especially proud of the way our players competed their way through the game. Probably the best and the worst of the game you could probably roll into one and say that the best is the worst. Obviously the worst things were the two horrible plays of getting sacked for a touchdown and giving up a kickoff return for the touchdown, but probably the best thing about the game was the way our team competed through both of those circumstances. After the sack, we get the ball back and go right down the field and score. After the kickoff return, we get the ball and go down and kick a field goal."

"We responded well as a team. We played good on defense. We never got fazed, never flinched when those bad things happened, and I think that speaks volumes for the maturity and competitive character of your team. I guess I was really proud of our players for the way that they competed their way through those tough circumstances."

"I think this was a great team win for us. I even considered not having Players of the Week, maybe for the first time all year, because so many players contributed in a positive way. I still wanted to reinforce positive performance by the guys that had outstanding games. Trent Richardson, obviously, is being recognized as a national player by Walter Camp this week and Co-Offensive Player of the Week.  (William) Vlachos and (Brad) Smelley had great games. Vlachos is the Offensive Lineman of the Week.  Defensively, Dont'a (Hightower), Courtney (Upshaw), and Dee Milliner all had really good games and lots of production points. Of course, (there was) Dee Milliner's interception return for a touchdown, where I think we had eight guys get blocks, which was pretty significant. They all played well on special teams.  Alex Watkins, Cody Mandell and Dee Milliner, who really did a good job on special teams, were Players of the Week."

"Again, this was a team win. I think everybody got challenged, regardless of what your role is, whether it was offense, defense, special teams or the bench. The bench got included this week. Your passion and energy was important to affecting everybody else to compete and play in the game. Everybody bought into it and did a great job."

"Moving forward, obviously we don't know what the future holds for us. I think it's going to be a huge stage regardless of what happens in terms of a BCS game. I don't think, philosophically, that we can keep practicing for however many days it is until whatever game we play in. This is kind of limbo week because we don't know what that game is going to be. I think the No. 1 thing that we try to maintain over the next three weeks, regardless of what the circumstance is because it's too soon to practice for any game, is the conditioning of the team. We will have a three-week conditioning regiment for our players of lifting, conditioning and simulated training to try to maintain that part of it. This is the time of the year when championships can get won or lost, and I'm talking about whatever game you play in. It's how you manage these weeks where you are not practicing every day like you're used to for the entire season. It's what you eat, what you drink, how you work out, and academics. Every choice and decision that you make needs to be a good one, so you're in a position to be able to take advantage of whatever opportunity you get. When you don't know for sure what that is, it's a little more difficult for guys to be able to zero in and focus and do the right things and think about the long term consequences of bad decisions and how that can affect you. We've had a couple of those here in the past, and we certainly don't want to have any in the future. I think this is the time of the year when everybody's got to be especially focused on making good choices and decisions about what they do and what they don't do. We've kind of got the schedule laid out for the next three weeks, and we'll go from there. I do not know when we'll start practicing. Until we have a game date, because you've got to go backwards from the game, I really can't comment on that."

On if he will be campaigning for his team with his appearances on major networks:

"I am not campaigning for anything. What I said after the game was what I believe in my heart and that's what I will continue to say. I'm not appearing anywhere to campaign. If you get asked to be on any of these things, it's great exposure for the University and the program. A lot of young people watch these things. What I'm doing this week is recruiting. That's where I've been.  I came back, and we are having the team meeting at 2 p.m. today, and I'm leaving again to go tonight. I'll be recruiting all week. Everybody has a full body of work to look at, and I think we should be able to stand pretty well in that body of work relative to what team we have. It's what the players deserve." 

On Kirby Smart's attractive qualities and readiness to be a head coach:

"I think Kirby would make an outstanding head coach. Leadership is really an important part of being head of anything, whether it be a business or whatever. I think Kirby is a great leader. He's done a great job with what he's been responsible for, which I also think is a big indication. You have to have the ability to confront and demand that people do things the right way and you have to gain respect to be able to do it. He's done a fantastic job of that. When our people in our organization do a great job for us and they have an opportunity, which is what they are working for is to become a head coach, we want to be very supportive and help them do that. I don't want anybody to leave, but the only way that people are going to be motivated to do a good job is if they have a chance to fulfill their goals and aspirations. That's part of the motivation for them to do a good job. That helps everybody in the organization to see that people have success in fulfilling their goals and aspirations. We are going to be very supportive. He's done a great job for us, and I'm sure will continue to do a great job. I don't know any specifics. No one has called me to ask permission to talk to him. If they do, we will deal with that then. That's where it's at. There's so much stuff on the internet now that's out there that people just throw out to see what sticks. I don't know how anybody really knows what's happening. There's so much speculation, and I really can't comment on speculation." 

On injuries and time off the practice field for the long term guys who have been fighting through injuries:

"I think that all of the guys will benefit from having some time off. Of course every one of those guys who have injury issues will be managed according to what they need to do to get healthy and maintain whatever level of conditioning we can with them. I think Mark Barron will get progressively better. He has a similar injury to what Javier Arenas had. It's a cartilage rib deal. It's not a serious injury but it's very painful especially when you are moving around. Hopefully in a couple of weeks that will help him. Barrett Jones seemed to get through the game pretty well. I'm sure these ankle sprains will heal up nicely over the next couple of weeks. I think having the extra time with Eddie's (Lacy) toe will certainly enhance his chances of coming back and being able to play better and for longer than he has in the last few games."

On how he felt like AJ McCarron played after looking at the films:

"I think AJ played ok. He threw some good balls in the game and made some big plays. He had a couple of other opportunities that maybe we could have converted on. He probably wishes when he watches the film that he would have made a better choice and decision on. It's not always what it seems. I'm not throwing anybody under the bus here, but he was looking to throw the check down but the check down wasn't where it was supposed to be. He couldn't find the check down so that's why he ended up holding the ball. He's gets sacked and fumbles and everybody thinks he did a horrible job but really that's contributed to the other player not being in the right spot. That's why you have to be careful. There were other circumstances that contributed to what looks like happened. He made some key third down throws in the game. He managed the game extremely well and never got flustered. He played better as the game went on. I was pleased with the way he played."

On the possibility of voters not wanting a rematch:

"I really don't have an opinion about all that stuff. I think the two best teams ought to play in the game. All that is like making a decision for the wrong reason. You can always say we want to hire a certain type of person to be the athletic director, but shouldn't you just hire the best person for the job rather than putting a prerequisite on some part of history that says we are going to pigeon hole ourselves into doing this? When you ask me what you just asked me, that's what you are doing. If somebody does that then I guess that's their choice to do that. It's a free country. The whole thing should be based on who are the best two teams. Isn't that what it's supposed to be? If it's not on that, then it doesn't matter whether we played before or that we are in the same conference. Who are the best two teams? That's the question. If the decision gets made on that then I'll be fine with that. If it gets made on some of this other stuff then it's not fair to the players or to their players either. If they didn't get picked because of a rematch or whatever, it wouldn't be fair to anybody."

On Urban Meyer being hired at Ohio State:

"Urban Meyer is a really good coach. He's been great for our profession and certainly his record speaks for itself in terms of his accomplishments wherever he has been as a coach. When you coach in the Big 10 or you are from Ohio, which he is, I'm not but he is and I spent a lot of time in Ohio and a lot of time in the Big 10, you have a tremendous amount of respect for the tradition and the expectations they have for Ohio State football. I coached there for a couple of years. I'm sure he's excited about it, and I'm excited for him that he has an opportunity to go back to his home state and be the head coach there. I think it's a wonderful opportunity and I think he will do a great job."

On his assessment of the offense with some of the durability issues they've faced:

"When you look at the entire body of work to this point, I think our offensive line has made a tremendous amount of improvement throughout the season. I think they played better as the season went on. I think that they are largely responsible for the success we've been able to have on offense because of our ability to create balance. Not only have we been able to throw the football effectively, but we were also able to run it effectively and sometimes in tough situations when we were trying to take the air out of it. I think that's the true mark of a really good offensive line. In the Mississippi State game, they knew we were going to run it, and we ran it down the field for however many minutes at the end of the game and scored a touchdown. Georgia Southern knew we were going to run it, and in the last eight or nine minutes of the game we ran it all the way down and scored. When the score was 35-14, they knew we were going to run it and we went down the field and scored. I think the physical nature of how they play has been a tremendous asset to them, and it's taken its toll on the other teams' defense. I think they've done a really good job all year long, and so has every guy that's had an opportunity to fill in. Alfred McCullough, wherever he's had to play, has done a really good job. We lost some pretty good depth players, but everybody did what they had to do to make it work. It's worked out pretty well for us." 

On whether he will watch the SEC title game and if he has a preference of who wins:

"I haven't really thought about that. I don't really have a preference. I'm thinking about what I need to do today with our players and our team, and what I need to do tonight with home visits, and what I need to do tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday when I go recruiting all day. That game seems almost far away to me right now. Most games that I watch, I don't root for anybody. To be honest though since I coached at LSU and have a lot of friends there, I usually kind of root for them. I root for Michigan State all the time too because I coached there and I root for Ohio State because I coached there. I always look and see how the Naval Academy did because I used to coach there. I might get my house egged now for saying that, but I'm just trying to be diplomatic." 

On Trent Richardson being a bruising back:

"I think Trent does a lot of good things as a runner. A lot of it is things people don't even notice. He's a really good pass blocker. He had a couple really good blocks on linebackers in the game and had good pass protection in the last game that nobody even knows about. All they talk about is how he ran the ball and the 200 yards he gained and the guy that he made miss and the pile that he carried forward. The guy has also competed against some of the better defensive teams in the country and done a pretty good job against all those teams. He's also a very good receiver. He shouldn't get pigeon-holed into being a bruising back because to me he's so much more. He's a great leader on our team. He's a hard worker and sets a great example. He cares about the other players on the team. He's certainly a very productive and competitive guy, who has been as good of a player as I have had the opportunity to coach in terms of the whole package. I think bruising back would be an insult to all that he is, even though he does that too because he's really tough and physical." 

On if he would like to switch places with LSU right now if he could:

"Why would I answer that? I've got enough problems to deal with today. I've got guys getting ready for the draft, guys that want to pick an agent, banquet is coming up and we have workouts coming up. I don't answer hypothetical questions. I don't even think about it. Why would you waste your time thinking about things that aren't real and can't happen? It is what it is. I don't think we are safely in the club house. I have enough problems. I have a dog at home that, since football season has started, has not been trained one bit and has been spoiled rotten by you know who that shouldn't be on the couch that's on the couch. It shouldn't run out of the yard but runs out of the yard. I've got work to do at home too. I've got to get the dog trained." 

On the defensive line improving as the season went on:

"I think that our entire defensive team has played well as a group. Everybody took on a responsibility of saying, 'I'm going to do my job well, and I don't want to let the other guys down.' Even though there were some questions about the defensive line going into the season, the guys that played did a really good job. Jesse Williams really made improvements as the year went on and became a really consistent performer for us. Josh Chapman has always played well. Damion Square did a really good job and became much more of a dependable and disciplined kind of guy in terms of how he played and channeled his abilities and focused. The backup players did a good job. Nick Gentry did a good job. He played in nickel a lot and passing situations. He has some production with his quickness. Quinton Dial made a contribution. There are a lot of guys that contributed to that. I think the fact that we had really good linebackers was good. Those guys move into those positions whether it's Courtney Upshaw or Dont'a Hightower. I think they do a good job in their roles in terms of what they did. When you put it all together, that group did a really good job of making progress throughout the year. You'd have to give them a pretty good grade in overall performance with what they were able to accomplish and do. It's pretty significant accomplishments in terms of what the whole defensive team was able to do this year. Without three non-offensive touchdowns in the last two games, one against Georgia Southern and two in the Auburn game, you add up all this stuff and you say very few teams played much better than that."

#3 Trent Richardson, Running Back

On how he physically feels:

"I'm good. I haven't been in the training room yet. I probably need to go in there and just touch up on some stuff after a game like that, Auburn's line did a good job. It's just something special to have an offensive line like that. You know that they are coming down the field every time you go down there and you have receivers blocking down the field which makes my job easier and makes my body feel way better." 

On shoving the defender during his 57-yard run:

"That's something that I have always just had. It just naturally came for me when trying to run away from my brothers while they were chasing me. It is something that you do have to work on. It has just always been in my game plan. It really just came natural, and hopefully it will always be in my game plan. It's just fighting off people and fighting off defenders. It is what it is, but it's really natural and engraved in my game."

On running behind the offensive line this year compared to last year:

"They're mature and they were pretty young last year. I think they came together as a team and as an offensive line unit and just gelled together. Everybody is making their calls and keeping on with each other. (William) Vlachos is down there running the offense line with Barrett (Jones). He and Barrett make calls, so with those two on the offensive line, you really can't go wrong." 

On why Barrett Jones is able to adjust to left tackle so easily:

"Because he is who he is. He is as good as Superman on the offensive line. He is athletic. You saw the game on Saturday. He lined up in the receiver spot. That's just Barrett Jones for you. He is a real smart man, and his chemistry with the game is just tremendous and that goes a long way. To have a guy like that on your team, you can't get anything better than that."

On having ever been to New York:

"No. This is (could be) my first time. It's going to be crazy. I know it is. I saw when Mark (Ingram) was down there how all the Bama fans were. They're going to be prepared and be supporting us everywhere we go, and I can't wait to get up there." 

On the possible trip to New York for the Heisman

"I'm looking forward to it. That's something I wish this team, that everyone could go represent for us.  But for this team, I'm going to represent the best I can; speak well and answer the questions as good as I can while I'm down there. Relax and have fun while I'm down there because it is a fun trip at the same time, and that's something I'm really trying to do, go down there and have fun.  Just make sure at the end of the day that, win or lose, that my name has been mentioned as a Heisman candidate." 

On wanting to be in Atlanta playing for the conference title:

"Oh, most definitely. We played that ball game (against LSU).  We did lose, and the winner is playing in that game. I wish there was something where both of us were on two different sides.  It didn't happen like that, but we do want to play in that ball game (SEC Championship) because that's the game that you want to play, a 14-game season, and that's what we have been playing for this year.  To have that one game that we aren't playing in takes a lot from us, but it is what it is. We're not playing in it. Hopefully we'll get to play in the national championship game." 

On being back for his senior year:

"I am classified to come for the whole year, but I'm going to see how that goes. I'm sitting down with Coach and my mom after the last game of the season to see what's best for my family and what's best for the team."

#73, William Vlachos, Offensive Lineman

On Barrett Jones being excited after lining up at receiver during Alabama's two point conversion attempt in the Iron Bowl:

"I would have been too. I want to line up out there. Barrett can snap. They need a faster guy out there. They should put me out there."

On the offensive line being successful despite injuries to starters and loss of backups to serious injury:

"I think going into the year, we did have a lot of depth as far as quality players and experienced players. I think Coach Stoutland doesn't just focus on the five that are playing in that game. I don't know if you pay attention during warm-ups but he works with (Chad) Lindsay and Kellen Williams the whole time, as soon as we get done with quarterback/center exchange. All year he coaches everybody up whether they're on the depth chart or whatever else is going on, so that's been very instrumental in the fact that everybody's been ready to play."

On the differences between Joe Pendry and Jeff Stoutland's coaching styles:

"You know, there really hasn't been (any difference). He (Coach Stoutland) uses our terminology, talks our playbook, and he's been awesome this year. It's been a great experience playing for him. We all love him in that room. He's a great coach, and we're lucky to have him."

#99, Josh Chapman, Defensive Lineman

On how great it was to finish his senior year with a 42-14 victory over Auburn:

"It was very special to go out with a win, especially against Auburn. It's the greatest rivalry in the state, and the way we won, everybody did their job and it was a great win. It was fun."

On the dominating effort by the defense:

"It shows that when we do our job on the field, everybody's communicating on the same page, you can't move the ball on us. If we get that rolling, we'll be a great defense, like we already are."

On Auburn throwing everything they had against them, and the defense continuing to dominate:

"Well going into it, we knew Auburn was going to come out with different formations, a lot of trick plays and just a lot of packages, but at the end of the day, it was going to settle down to one formation, one play, and everybody just did their job."

On how great it was for the defense to get a shutout:

"It was great, but I mean it's still 14 points. Some of our guys are on the kickoff team, we just had to settle down for the little things."

On having some family there for his last Iron Bowl:

"My brother was there, my cousin was there. My brother doesn't come to many games. He only comes to the Auburn game. That's one he holds out to the end. He's always been there for my past five years here."

On how great it was to have a game like that in front of his family:

"It was great for them, but it was also fun for my family here, my Alabama family. It was just fun beating Auburn."

On what the team's mindset is going forward:

"The mindset is just to try to work on being a better team, and the little things that we can get better at. By little things I mean a little more film, a little more technique, getting our bodies healed up, just the little things that are going to help us down the road."

On his thoughts on whatever bowl game the team is going to:

"Our thoughts are that we're hoping we're going to the big dance, but wherever we end up we'll settle with that."

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics