TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban took a wide range of questions during the SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday.
No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) travels to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday for an SEC West clash against No. 15 LSU (5-2, 3-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Here are the highlights from Saban’s time on the teleconference:
On the magnitude of Alabama-LSU
“This is obviously one of the biggest games of the year. It always is. They’re always very, very good. This game always has significance in our division, and it certainly does this year. Our players have done a good job all week of trying to get ready for a very, very good team. Probably as good a team as we’ve played all year, especially the way we’re playing now. This will be a very challenging game for us, and we’re looking forward to a great football game.” — Saban
On LSU’s defense
“They’re very well coached. They play a good scheme. They have good players that are very disciplined in the way they play. We played Wisconsin a year ago and felt the same way about how they played. I think everybody doing their job and being sound and disciplined in what they do is what makes them really good because they have really good players. They’ve got a really good secondary and their front guys are good. They have good pass rushers. Their inside ‘backers are good. This is a really, really quality defensive team.” — Saban
On the importance of depth at this time of year
“I think it’s critical. I think it’s a critical factor. I think that you lose a guy here and there _ whether it’s we lost Eddie Jackson or whatever _ if you don’t have a lot of depth on your team… I always thought it was interesting, Don James, who was the first guy I worked for, used to say the quality of your team long term is going to get determined by the bottom 40 guys on your team not the top 40. Sometimes that makes a lot of sense, especially when you get in this time of year.” — Saban
On Ronnie Harrison and how playing quarterback in high school helped him as a defender
“I think the first thing is is you look at a guy athletically and say this guy is a good enough athlete to play someplace. We were fortunate enough to get Ronnie to come to our camp early in his career and got to see him do some things as a defensive back. That really convinced us that he could be a really, really good player, and he’s certainly turned out that way.
I don’t know if it’s overblown or not, but I do think that guys that play quarterback most of the time have a bigger picture understanding of the game because of what they have to do as a quarterback whether it’s what the offensive team is trying to do or what the defensive team is trying to do. In most cases, in my experience, guys that play quarterback that have the physical characteristics and meet the critical factors to play another position are fairly instinctive guys that have a pretty good understanding of the overall game.” — Saban
On the difference in LSU’s passing game since the coaching change
“I think they’ve made a lot of explosive plays. I think they’ve got a very, very talented group of receivers. I think their quarterback is very smart in the way he sort of implements their offense. I think he gets them in and out of good and bad running plays and I think their play action game and vertical passing game is something that they’ve always had, but I think it’s more effective now relative to their skill guys and their quarterback. And they’ve made a lot more explosive plays.” — Saban
On LSU’s offensive line
“They’ve got a very good offensive line. They’ve got great size. They’re very athletic guys. They get good movement in the running game. They have a great understanding of what they’re trying to do on the plays that they run and do a really effective job of executing and playing together. This is a very, very good offensive line.” — Saban
On what he’s seen from Alabama’s secondary and if they are improving
“Well, I think at times we’ve played very well and at other times, I would like for us to play better. And hopefully we can continue to be consistent in that. I think it’s going to be very important this week because of the vertical passing game that we’ll face that our secondary plays very good in run support but also has great eye control and discipline to be able to play the play-passes and the vertical passing game.” — Saban