TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke to reporters following practice on Wednesday.
No. 1 Alabama travels to Knoxville, Tenn., for a date with No. 9 Tennessee on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Highlights from Saban’s time at the podium:
- I think it’s really important that we finish the week the right way and build toward this game.
- It’s going to be a tough game on the road in a rivalry game against Tennessee. They’re playing well. It’s going to take a 60-minute game.
- People always ask later on in life how you did in rivalry games.
- Alphonse Taylor (concussion) is “pretty questionable” for the game on Saturday. Saban said the team wouldn’t rush Taylor or linebacker Reuben Foster back before they are ready.
- Typically, I think you’ve got to allow players to have instinct about ‘Should I take this out or not take it out?’ I think when he caught the ball he kind of looked up field and saw that he had a pretty good opening so he took it. My first thought was before I looked was ‘Don’t bring it out,’ but once I saw him bring it out and saw the opening we had and how our guys had lined up down the numbers, I don’t even think they had a guy that had a chance to make a tackle. I think you have to respect a player’s instinct when they do something like that. But it depends a little bit on the situation as well.
- Yeah, I said this years ago. When you play pace of play like teams play now, since the 40-second shot clock and they let them go as fast as they want, it’s nothing to play 100 plays in a game. I think both of those teams had 100 plays in the game last week. Now, is that good for player safety. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you that. It seems to me like the more plays you play, the tireder you get, the more susceptible you might be to getting hurt. But I don’t know that for a fact. Now there’s things we could do to probably shorten a game, whether you don’t stop the clock after first downs, whether you stand over the ball for just a second and not go warp speed where the other team can’t get lined up. I don’t know what the answer to that is.
I don’t think it’s good that players play that many plays in a game. When you look at the cumulative effect of a season when players play like that… Now, offensive players who play that philosophy say ‘The offensive players have to do it as well as the defensive players.’ That’s not really true. Defensive players have to run to the ball every play. The offensive lineman stand and watch the guy run with the ball. There’s a difference in that and there’s a difference in what the receiver does if he’s backside and you take a play off or whatever. You can’t really do that on defense. So I think there’s potential for a lot of plays to be in this game.
- Bo Scarbrough is coming along nicely. He’s doing a good job. He made a nice run in the last game for a touchdown and I think he’s getting more and more confident and I think he’s going to be a factor for us before the season is over.
- Butch Jones has done a fabulous job at Tennessee.These guys had a really good team last year, they finished the season strong. I don’t know how many games in a row they’d won, 12 or 13 or 15, however many it was. That’s pretty strong. The only loss they have is to a top five or six team in the country and they certainly weren’t that way when he took the program over. He’s doing a good job of developing players, doing a good job of recruiting players, and they do an outstanding job and I think Butch has done an outstanding job there. But probably like all coaches, when you say ‘Do you take any satisfaction?’ I don’t take any satisfaction in anything we’ve done here, because I’m just worried about winning this game. It’s a slippery pull from the penthouse to the outhouse when you’re in this business. So you don’t take satisfaction. That’s what causes lapses in games. You take satisfaction when the score is 42-17, and then you go out and get your ass kicked in the next series. So you can’t take satisfaction. You have to keep on grinding. That’s what competitive people do and that’s what competitors do and certainly what you have to do in this game?
- Look, I’ve got nothing to do with it (concussion protocol). I’m not a doctor. I’m not part of the medical staff. I never determine whether a player plays or doesn’t play. There is a protocol and there is a number of things that a player has to do. The medical people, the doctors and trainers and all that put them through the protocol and they decide when they can play and when they can’t. I have never made a decision about whether a player, whether he plays or doesn’t play. Whether it’s in a game or right now. I have too much respect for the players and their futures and their careers to ever put a player at risk. Most of the time, I’m telling players ‘Look, I know you want to play,’ because I ask a guy sometimes, even when the medical staff says he can play, I say ‘Can you play? Are you ready to play?’ And most of the time the player really always wants to play and says he can. But the question is can you go out there and do your job like you want to and feel comfortable and confident that you can do that regardless of what the issue is. That’s always something to me that’s important from a players’ perspective regardless of what the medical circumstance is.
- I don’t really think we’ve done a lot more (of blitzing inside linebackers). I don’t know. I guess I would have to look at it statistically. But I feel like you look at every game like where do you have the best mismatch players? Is it covering their players? Is it trying to utilize the skill you have in the pass rush relative to their protection scheme, or whatever. I think you plan that during the course of the week, you practice that and that’s what you go into the game thinking that you’re going to play. In the last game, they throw a lot of move the pocket stuff so we try to bring guys off the edge to try and contain the quarterback. So it may look like we were more edge rushing. On third down, we weren’t doing a great job of covering them and we were doing a pretty good job of forcing the pocket, so you say ‘OK, we’ll pressure a little bit.’ For the most part when we contained the quarterback, it was pretty effective.