With a win, Nick Saban and the Tide would put themselves in prime position to win the division and represent the West in Atlanta in the SEC Championship.
On Monday, Coach Saban would participate in the first of his two weekly press conferences to discuss the Tide’s bye week and the upcoming matchup with the Bayou Bengals.
Below is everything Coach Saban had to say on Monday afternoon.
I know that bye weeks, at this point of the season, can be very beneficial. I think, in a lot of ways, to our team, it was very beneficial. We got lots of guys that were banged up a little bit some rest and limited reps so that they could heal up. Of course, we won’t know how well that happens until we see how they respond this week. We got a lot of good repetitions on future opponents, as well as LSU, in the bye week, so that should enhance our preparation for this game.
I told the players when they left Thursday after practice that I wanted them enjoy their time off, but I also wanted them to be focused and ready to go all in when we get back because LSU is really, really good team. They’re probably one of the best teams in the country right now. I know that they are the best team in the country on offense. We’re going to need an excellent attention to detail, focus, good technical preparation for the game so that everybody plays responsibility football, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams. This has developed into a rivalry game because they’re always ranked, we’re always ranked, and it’s always a big game relative to what happens in our division. It’s an important game for both teams.
I think Brian Kelly has done a phenomenal job bringing this team along. The improvement that they made, the kind of team they had a year ago, as well as an even a better team that they have this year, in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish and what they’ve been able to do. I think it starts with their offense. They’re the number one offensive team in the country, and it starts with the quarterback, Jayden Daniels. I mean, this guy is a phenomenal player. He’s a dual-threat player, he’s great passer, and makes lots of plays with his feet. Fast. Not only can scramble to run but can scramble to throw.
They’ve got a really good running back in Logan Diggs. They got a good tight end in Mason Taylor. (Malik) Nabers and Brian Thomas are really, really good receivers, but they also have other good skill guys to go with them. Their offensive line is big and physical, and they’re able to create great balance on offense. So it’s going to be very challenging for us to be able to play the kind of disciplined football that you need to be able to play and not make mistakes, tackle well in the game, be physical, and try to win on the line scrimmage, which is going to be challenging.
Defensively, they good players, a good front seven. They’re big, they’re physical, and they play well together as a team. Sometimes, they’ve had some struggles in the secondary, some guys injured and different things like that, but they also make a lot of big plays. They can rush, they affect the quarterback, and they can cover so this is going to be a challenge game for us from that standpoint, too, and these guys have a lot of good athletes and a lot really good team speed, so that makes them really good on special teams. They have good specialists. So this is a really, really good team all the way around.
On the difference of Jayden Daniels from last season to this season
Well, he killed us last year. The guy was really, really good player last year, he’s a really, really good player now. Overall, they execute their offense to perfection, and it starts with him because he makes the right reads relative to runs and passes and zone-option plays and pass-down plays. He’s very good at reading coverages and makes really quick decisions. All those things were evident last year by the way he played, and I think he’s probably even better now because he has even more experience and knowledge in the offense, and they’ve got really good players around him.
On defended QB designed runs
He made a couple plays on quarterback draws, but some of them weren’t designed quarterback draws. Two of his long runs in the game in critical situations came on busts up front, in terms of gap control, and he just saw it and took off running. So it looked like a quarterback draw but I don’t really think it was a design quarterback draw. They do have designed quarterback draws.
It was a zone option play that he scored on us in overtime (last year), a 25-yard run. Another mistake that we made in run support, didn’t adjust to the motion. Those are the kinds of things, you cannot afford to make those kinds of mistakes. When you’re playing against a quarterback like this, who basically is a great passer, but also has triple option-type plays in the running game to get him on the perimeter. He’s so athletic, you have to have the right guys trying to get him on the ground.
On Kendrick Law's progression and versatility
K-Law is really a great competitor, really tough, physical guy. He is a little different than some of our other receivers, so he does have a role to play and does a really good job of that. He’s a great special teams player. Really good team guy, hard worker. I think we’ll try to always have roles for him to play in the game that benefit his skillset and complement the other guys that we have in the game.
On the addition of Logan Diggs to LSU's backfield
This guy is a really good ‘back. He’s big, strong, powerful — really powerful lower body. Breaks tackles, good one-cut runner, who can make you miss. But this guy makes a tremendous amount of yards after contact, and he is physical.
On balancing disciplined pass rush without losing aggression
I think we want our guys to play aggressive. I don’t think you want guys getting pushed by the pocket, you don’t want guys to lose contain on the guy, so there’s a fine line between that. If you get pushed from the pocket, we’re playing with 10 guys now. If you lose contain and he gets outside, you put everybody in harm’s way that’s trying to plaster their coverage and stay with the guys they have to guard. Plus, he can take off running. I guess there’s a fine line between that. We’ve never ever told guys to rush in their pass lanes, but be cautious. Never, ever even thought of that. We’re not coaching that.
On if he wants anything for his birthday on Tuesday
No. The game’s the most important thing. That would be an outstanding birthday present, if we could play well in this game, so that’s what I’m focused on and that’s what we’re really trying to do.
When your birthday and holidays come up during the football season, they’re really not holidays and they’re really not birthdays. You get older, but you don’t really celebrate much.
On Alabama's pass defense, defending LSU's passing attack
I think there’s lots of challenges. You’ve got to read run-pass, and they’ve got a good play-action plan. They’ll seven-man protect and throw vertical routes. They’ve probably made more explosive plays running and passing than any team we’ve played in recent times.
You’ve got to guard them. You’ve got to keep them cut off, and you’ve got to be disciplined in your eye control so that you have the best opportunity to do that. Play zone, play man, play pattern match sometimes. Try to mix it up. That’s the key to the drill. If you let guys get behind you, you don’t get people cut off, you’re probably going to give up big plays because they’ve got a good thrower and guys that can go up and get the ball.
On Kadyn Proctor, left tackle battle
Kadyn Proctor’s getting better, and I think he’s learning and gaining experience and learning. What we want him to do is not worry so much about making a mistake that he’s not playing aggressively, and that’s what we’ve been working on with him. I think he’s getting better and he’s getting more confident, I thought he played fairly well. He had a play or two that I’m sure he’d tell you and I’d tell you and his coach would tell you, that we didn’t execute exactly correctly, but those plays are getting fewer and fewer and the good plays are getting greater and greater.
On what makes Alabama-LSU so important each season
Because they have really good players. They’re very competitive. They’ve always been well coached. This game has always had significance in the consequence of your season. So the first thing you’ve got to do is win your division. And that’s what we’re really trying to focus on. And you’ve got to get yourself ready to take care of business against really, really good players to be able to do that.
I think both of these teams have been ranked since 2007 or something, in the Top 20. I don’t know how many of the games we’ve played with them in the last 15 years or whatever that don’t have some consequence to what kind of season you have.
On the marker of a productive week off
I think that you want your players — as I alluded to before — to enjoy their time off, but you also want them to be focused and ready to go when they come back. There’s a balance in all that. You can’t dissipate and go not eat right and (not) do the right things while you’re off. You can still enjoy yourself, but you also can stay focused on what you need to do when you come back. I think that’s a combination and balance in all that.
Balance in life is important in everything that you do. So that kind of balance can create very positive results for you when you come back and you’re ready to go. If you didn’t think about your job, what your responsibility is for one minute for three days, you’re probably not going to benefit very much from the time you had off.
All right, thank you.
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