LSU WEEK FOR BAMA//NICK SABAN PRESS CONFERENCE

OPENING STATEMENT:
I think we had a very productive bye week. Got a chance to work on a lot of things. A lot of repetitions for a lot of players to improve. But now it’s sort of time to refocus on the task at hand The players have had a few days off. I think the goal is to play our best football of the year and to do that each individual player on the team needs to play their best. That obviously starts with preparation.
Eddie Jackson is OK. He did practice some last week. I think he will be OK to practice some today. Ronnie Harrison and Dominick Jackson will both start back in individual drills. We’ll see how much they can do today. We will have to evaluate that more on a day to day basis.
We’ve had some great games through the years. This has turned out to be a great rivalry. I think it’s a great rivalry because of the quality of the programs. I think six or seven times since we’ve been here, both teams have been ranked in the top 10. That’s obviously a credit to the great job that Les Miles has done in the 11 years he’s been there and their players and the way they compete and the great job of coaching that they do.
I think Leonard Fournette, in my opinion, is as a dominant as any player in the country in terms of the way he plays and what he’s capable of doing as a running back, both running the ball and as a receiver. Quarterback Brandon Harris has certainly done a really good of taking care of the football and making big plays when he’s needed to. He’s a dual threat. He can run. They’ve got really good receivers. Their offensive line is probably the biggest, most physical that we’ve seen season all season. They rush for over 300 yards a game. They’ve been able to make explosive plays in the passing game that have led to a lot of points.
Defensively, they still rank in the top 20 in almost every category in the country. Difficult to run against. Very good secondary. Very good linebacker. Very good speed. A good pass rusher in Lewis Neal, who has lots of hurries, lots of sacks. One of the top guys in the SEC.
Always really good on special teams. They’ve got a lot of team speed.
All around, this is a very, very good football team. Probably one of the best teams in the country.

ON ALABAMA’S RECRUITMENT OF LEONARD FOURNETTE:
We thought he was a fabulous player in high school. Number one running back in the country. But bigger than that to me, he was a really, really fine young man. Great family. It’s no surprise to me he’s developed into one of the premiere players in the country and arguably the best running back in the country. His competitive character certainly shows on the field in the way he plays and competes. I have nothing but admiration and respect for what he’s done and the kind of player that he is.

ON PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THIS GAME BEING ABOUT NICK SABAN:
I don’t pay any attention to what people say. We take our games one game at a time. Look, this game is about our players, our team and our program. Has nothing to do with me in terms of any past experience I’ve had. My goal is to do the best job we can as coaches. Our coaching staff has been preparing our players to play the best they can all season long. That’s really what it’s all about to me. Every player on this team has worked very, very hard to put themselves in a position to have an opportunity to play against a great team and the game has a tremendous amount of significance for all the things that they’ve worked for all year long. That’s much bigger than anything else that could be considered in this game.

ON LSU SOPHOMORE
QB BRANDON HARRIS:
He was the backup quarterback last year. Won the job this year and has played really, really well. The guy has not played like a first-year quarterback at all. He’s executed very well. He’s taken good care of the ball. He hasn’t thrown any interceptions. He’s made a lot of big plays. Can scramble. He can make plays downfield as well as run it. He’s certainly developed into an outstanding player for them, especially executing what they do really well.

ON WHETHER THIS WILL BE A
CONSERVATIVE GAME:

That’s not ever been our approach in terms of how we want to play the game. We want to take what they give us and hopefully be able to control the ball well enough. Never have gone in this game wanting to play conservative. I don’t see anybody being conservative in this game. I think the style of play, because of the way they play, it’s their style. It’s what they do and they do it very, very well. We need to do what what we do very well. I don’t think being conservative is really going to help you win the game.

ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LSU PASSING GAME:
They’ve made a lot of explosive plays in the passing game. They’ve taken advantage of what people have done to try to stop the run. They’ve been able to take advantage of that and make big plays.
I think the key to the drill is that you’ve
got to be able to stop the run, but you can’t give them big plays. If you give
them big plays, that’s when they score
lots of points. With the good defense and special teams group that they have, it’s hard to make that up. Everybody’s got
to be very disciplined in doing their job
in playing a team like this.

ON THE EXPERIENCE JAKE COKER HAS GAINED THIS SEASON:
Obviously, knowledge and experience is always going to make you better. It’s going to make you more confident. You prepare better. You have more poise. So I think all of those things are important. Jake hadn’t played that much before this season. He’s developed nicely. He put together a great drive at the end of the Tennessee game. Those things not only helped his confidence, but the confidence of the players around him that he can make plays.

ON DERRICK HENRY’S
PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON:
Derrick’s done an outstanding job for us. He’s had a fantastic year. I don’t think you can say enough about how he’s played. He’s shown great competitive character. He’s been very productive, not only on the way he’s carried the ball, but also in pass protection. We couldn’t be any more pleased with the way Derrick Henry has played.

ON WHAT THE COACHING STAFF DOES TO KEEP THE PLAYERS FROM GETTING CAUGHT UP IN THE EXCITEMENT OF THE GAME:
I think in games like this you have to focus on not worrying about the outcome of the game so much, but more what you have to do to dominate your box. You sort of assume the guy you’re playing against is the best you’ve played against all season long. That’s how you prepare. When you play games like this, you don’t really ever dominate the other guy, because of his quality. But you focus on the next play, so that you can be more consistent in the way you perform over the long haul. That’s what we try to get our players to do, so that they can stay focused on what they need to do on the field, because that is what will ultimately determine the outcome of the game.

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