NICK SABAN AT ALABAMA MEDIA DAY

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban spoke with reporters prior to Alabama’s fan day practice last Saturday. He was asked about a number of different topics. Here are some of his comments.

ON DISCIPLINE AND TOUGHNESS

“Discipline and toughness are two things that go a long way in helping players develop that, because it certainly helps them sustain in difficult circumstances. I think fall camp is a difficult circumstance that a lot of players have to learn how to work through. How do you stay focused when you’re tired? Are you going to make mental errors? Are you going to loaf? Are you going to do the wrong things? That’s really kind of enduring and not really showing the mental toughness to sustain. You have to have a strong breaking point if you’re going to be a good player and a great competitor. We’re trying to create a unique excellence with every player on our team. That’s the only way we’ll have a good team. Everybody has choices to make. Are you going to endure, are you going to try to survive this camp or are you actually going to make a commitment to striving to be the best player that you can be? If you’re going to impose your will on somebody else, the first thing you have to do is impose your will on yourself, so that you can do the things like you need to do them.”

ON THE CHALLENGE OF REPLACING KEY GUYS ON DEFENSE

“Well that’s a really easy answer. Do you all know how many players we lost last year on defense? And how many of those guys got drafted? And how many of those guys we have to replace? So it’s a pretty easy answer to figure out that because of the experience that we lost, the number of players that we lost, the opportunity that creates for inexperienced players, especially in the secondary where we lost six players who did most of the playing. We have not one starter back, a guy that started two games, I think maybe. At linebacker, both guys started a few games, both guys were hurt a little bit. We’ve got three guys in the front that have ever really played in the game before. That’s probably the least amount of returning experienced players that we’ve ever had. So as much as you guys look at statistics and as much as you guys look at stuff on paper, that should be pretty easy for you guys to figure out.”

ON FIRST YEAR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOSH LUPOI

“He has done a great job of recruiting for us. I think he’s really developed as a coach. I think he’s taken it upon himself to not want to be a guy that was viewed just as a recruiter or just as a guy that could coach the front. He’s really, really committed himself to learning the big picture, the coverages, the secondary. I spent a significant amount of time with him doing that. I think he’s made a tremendous amount of improvement.

ON SOLICITING FEEDBACK FROM THE TEAM IN REGARDS TO THE QUARTERBACKS

“I think we assess it from…We don’t have a straw vote on the team as to who they think the quarterback ought to be. I don’t know that it would be like any election, most people don’t get elected unanimously. Therefore it would be a divisive vote that probably would not be healthy for the togetherness of the team. You know, I think these things have to be made at a little higher level based on a set of circumstances relative to consistency in performance, other players believing in, leadership, a lot of factors that come into that. As a coaching staff, not just me, we have to make a determination as to how we should play the quarterback. Now you guys are totally fixed on is somebody has to be has first team and somebody has to be second team. Tell me why. I’m asking you why. You can’t answer that. Then why. I’m asking why. Why do you think that way? If there’s people on our team that can contribute why would we not utilize their abilities to be able to contribute on our team in some form or fashion.”

ON THE QUARTERBACKS RESPONDING TO PRESSURE

“That’s part of the evaluation for every player at every position. I think that goes a long way to know how they’ll play and compete in the game and how they’ll respond and persevere when things don’t go well because they’ll be able to stay focused on the next thing. They won’t get affected by what happened on the last play. So I think that’s important at every position.”

ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR WIDE RECEIVER HENRY RUGGS

“You know, I ‘m not in the creating expectation business. That’s pretty much what people like you all do. You know make a guy a five star, he made six touchdowns so we’re going to make him be whatever this year, that’s what you do. We fight against that. We don’t want players to have expectations. We want them to have goals. And how many touchdown passes they catch is not part of the goal, it’s an outcome. My expectation for Ruggs is become a complete player at your position. Run every route, every blocking assignment, give great effort on every play, go across field and get a block that helps some other guy go 70 yards for a touchdown. We want him to be a complete player at his position. How many passes he catches and how many touchdowns he scores is going to be an outcome of that. That’s different than an expectation or a goal to me. I don’t have that expectation for you.”

ON DAMIEN HARRIS RETURNING FOR HIS SENIOR YEAR

“I think it was a business decision. I think that we take the information that we get from the evaluations that we get from the NFL and we say, OK, here’s your situation and here’s your circumstance. And I’m not going to tell you what that information was. But if you’re a first-round draft pick, to me it’s a no-brainer that you go out for the draft and we’ve had 29 guys go out. We’ve probably had four guys that made not so good decisions, and I don’t think any of those four guys played much longer than a year. So they should have stayed in college.”

ON THE PROGRESS ON NAJEE HARRIS

“I think Najee, obviously at the end of the season, played very well for us and made progress last year, got more confident in what he was supposed to do, how to do it, how to run the plays, how to read the plays, understanding the pass protections better and being a more effective guy in the passing game. And I think that progress has continued over the spring. And we’ve only had one practice so far, but he hasn’t done anything to disappoint. I just think that he has more maturity, more confidence and a better understanding. And I think that should help him be more productive.”

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