Coach Saban’s Weekly Press Conference

This is certainly not the time to relax or be satisfied. We need to focus on things that we can do better to improve from our last performance, regardless of the score. There are still things that we can learn from and improve from. This is another one of those division games against a very good team that is going to take the best preparation that we have throughout the week to get ready to play this game. We are very pleased that Levi Wallace is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

Update on personnel, Da’Shawn Hand just has an MCL strain. He will be out, and probably very doubtful, at least this game and maybe more. Trevon Diggs has a foot injury. He will be day-to-day, but also is very questionable for this game.

Texas A&M is the strongest team that we played to this point. Looking at them from the holistic standpoint, they’re very explosive offensively. They run the ball very effectively. They’ve got really good running backs. Christian Kirk may be the most explosive player — returner, receiver, runner — of anybody in our league. Defensively, they’re tough to run against. They create a lot of negative plays. They’ve got good pass rushers. (Defensive coordinator) John Chavis always does a good job of playing very aggressive, physical football. Because of Christian Kirk being a fantastic returner, these guys are very dangerous on special teams. So this is by far, I think, the strongest team that we have played to this point all the way around. Certainly going to be a challenge for us and test for us and a division game on the road.


I think it’s an individual thing. It’s a leader thing. It’s a coach thing. Everybody understanding the challenges that we have and how we want to move forward and you can’t look back. We had 24 hours (to celebrate) the last game, and it won’t have any impact on the next game. We need to move on. Everybody’s got to get psychologically and physically ready to execute and play good football, winning football in the next game.


I think that we want to utilize all the skill players that we have. I think that’s the best way to use all your weapons. I think that’s something that we want to continue to emphasize on offense, whether it’s the running backs, receivers, the quarterback, whoever it might be that gives us an advantage to make plays in a particular situation and in a particular game. I think all the skill guys have made progress and have played well. We have had a few dropped balls in the last couple of games and we’d love to eliminate that, but we’ve also made some really good catches. I think everybody needs to focus on what they need to do to be a complete player at their position, and take advantage of the opportunities when you get them.


I think the fact that we have a balance and we can run the ball probably helps. We use tempo down there to help us get the other team off-guard a little bit. It’s obviously one of the things in the off-season that we wanted to do better on both sides of the ball. I think we have made some improvements, but I think teams will make it more difficult for us to run, so we’re going to have to be able to be effective in the way we throw the ball down there as well.


He has a really strong leg. We usually define the yardline every week, based on the wind conditions and that type of thing. But probably 35 to the 38 yardline or something, where the ball is there.


Ronnie Clark has been the consummate, ultimate great story about how any program and (about how) college football should be about. Here’s a guy that has done everything that anyone could ask as a teammate and contributed to the team in whatever way he could, regardless of how much accolade that may have brought him. I think every player on the team respects that and understands that. I think that every coach, including myself, respects that and understands that. When a guy has an opportunity to score a touchdown, I think a lot of people were very, very excited for him. So excited that we really could’ve probably got a penalty, because guys ran out on the field without their helmet on. So we caught a break on that one. But we were really, really happy to see Ronnie have a positive, self-gratification for all his dedication and hard work and commitment to the program and the team in every way that he’s been able to contribute.

ON IF THE BLOCK ON DA’SAHWN HAND WAS LEGAL: Yeah, it was legal. The guy cut him. If it’s illegal, we should eliminate cut-blocking. I’ve been an advocate of that for a long time, but you’re allowed to cut and it’s a legal block. So until somebody changes the rule, there’s nothing illegal about it.


I think Jalen has really developed very nicely through the course of the season. One of the things that he did in this game, which we’ve been working with him on even when he scrambles, is to keep his eyes down the field. He actually did that on several occasions. One of the balls Robert Foster jumped up to catch and got pushed out of bounds. Another one, (Henry) Ruggs dropped. But those were two occasions that he scrambled and kept his eyes down field and found an open receiver and made a good throw. I think that can be a tremendous complement to his running ability, his scrambling ability. But I think from a drop-back standpoint, from a timing standpoint, we missed a few throws in the game. But at the same time, we’re in the right place, we’re making the reads, we’re getting the ball out of our hand, and we also made some really good throws in the game. So we’re excited about the progress that we’ve been able to make it and the balance that it can create for us.


I think the common thread is, we have an old saying, ‘Out of yourself and into the team.’ Look, everybody has individual goals and accolades that they want to accomplish in things that they want to do personally. I think they should. But I think there’s a fine line between, what do I put first? Do I do what is best for the team and for my teammates and know that it’s important for me to be a complete player, whether I’m getting the ball or not getting the ball, getting an opportunity or not getting an opportunity but I create an opportunity for somebody, and that same person can create an opportunity for me when I get a chance to make a play. That’s what we try to emphasize with our players. And so far this year, our players have done a pretty good job of that.


I think sometimes when things like that happen it can be a galvanizing thing for your team. People respond better sometimes to bad things happening than they do the good things happening. It shouldn’t be that way, but sometimes it is and they certainly have responded and played really, really well. They played really well in that (UCLA) game to get into the position they were in (leading 41-10). They have continued to play well, run the ball, have a great balance, do what their players can do, and they’re very aggressive and physical on defense. So this is a really good team.


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