Saban After Bama's First Scrimmage: Kicking Them in Ass More than Patting Them
Full transcript after Saturday afternoon's scrimmage.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama head coach Nick Saban met with reporters on Saturday afternoon after the Crimson Tide's first scrimmage of fall camp.
"Are you willing to do what is required to win? What does that mean? That means every player on the team has got to work hard to be able to become not the player they are right now, but the player they need to be, the player they could be, the player they could improve to be. And this is a great opportunity, in these circumstances, for us to be able to preserve some difficult things to overcome adversity. I don't think you could be a great competitor if you can't overcome adversity cause adversity is coming some kind of way. You should enhance the challenge of what's coming. This is another challenge, kinda working every day. One of the things that I think makes it a little difficult for the players is this is only our third day in pads. We've been in shells a couple times, or shoulder pads, a couple, three times. But now the scrimmage and trying to get the execution when you're going fast and it's your first time you're getting tackled, first time you're hitting, is not something that we're disappointed in, but certainly, areas that we can do a whole lot of improving which definitely we want to focus on. I think it's always important for players to self-assess and say, 'OK, I played this many plays today. I would play this many plays if we had a game. I'm not in good enough condition to be able to sustain the level of effort, toughness, ability to stay focused and do my job for this many plays and yet I know I'm gonna play more later on.' So every practice, every opportunity you get is not something that you want to endure in the practice, but you want to push yourself so you could get to the next level of where you need to be to stay focused for longer and play with more consistency for longer in every game that you play.
"Look, everybody got reps today at quarterback. I'm not a stats guy so we're not interested in what their statistics were. We are going to be interested when we watch the film in how did they execute? Did they throw the ball the right place at the right time? Were they accurate in what they did? Did they take care of the ball so that we have a chance to play winning football at that position? And that's what we'll be evaluating. So if you ask me a question about it, that's the answer I'm gonna give you.
"We still had drops at receiver. We still had mental errors on defense. We still jumped offside too many times when it was a hard count. We have a ton of things to work on, but in all honesty, if we didn't have a ton of things to work on, why would we have 20 more practices or whatever it is before the first game? I think it's the attitude that you approach each and every one of those practices. Doc Rivers made an interesting statement last night. He said, 'Do you want to win?' Everybody in the room said, 'Yeah, I want to win.' 'But do you really want to win? Cause you want to win if you can keep doing all the stuff that you've been doing, that puts you in your comfort zone and maybe isn't the stuff you need to be doing to win. So you want to win but you're not really committed to winning. You're just committed to staying comfortable and doing what you want to do so and some of those things bite you in the butt when the time comes.' I think that's something that players really need to think about. Cause you do have to make sacrifices, to be able to do the things that we want to try to do, that these guys have goals and aspirations to do, you have to make some sacrifices. You have to invest in yourself in terms of how you sleep, how you rest, how you recover. The habits that you have, how you eat, how you hydrate. There's all kind of things that go into what is my level of performance gonna be? If you dissipate, whether it's drinking, smoking, whatever it is, all those things are gonna affect your performance so you're only committed to winning if you can do all the things you want to do, not all the things you need to do to be able to win."
How was the offensive line play today?
"Inconsistent, not enough depth. We had a couple explosive runs but you know, when you're playing against each other, was the explosive run because of great execution or was it because of terrible execution on the other side? Until you watch the film it's kind of hard to evaluate. I just think we need to get more guys in the offensive line to be able to play winning football and we need to add depth to the group. We have maybe, six, seven guys that I think are in play but we need a lot more than that to get through the season."
On wide receiver progress...
"We made some good plays today too. I think that we had some guys make some really good catches, I think quarterbacks made some really good throws at times, but what is the level of consistency? I mean, if you're a receiver, why do they call your receiver supposed to be able to catch the ball, right? I mean, that's what receiver means. So you should never drop a ball. And you know, that's something that we got to stay focused on."
On the defensive line's progress...
"I think we have five or six guys that are playing pretty well. Again, same old thing, we need more people to be able to go out there and play consistently, the way you need to play to play winning football, because that's probably not enough. But [Jaheim Oatis] has had a really really good camp. Justin [Eboigbe] has had a really good camp so far. We're trying to bring some of the other guys along to be able to play. Tim [Smith] is a little up and down, he needs to be more consistent. So everybody's got something that they can work on and that's really what we're focused on right now."
On versatility in the secondary...
"We got a bunch [of versatility], I mean we're playing guys all over the place. [Terrion Arnold] can play different spots, [Kool-Aid McKinstry] can play different spots. [Malachi Moore] can play just about everywhere. Jaylen Key can play multiple positions, trying to develop Tony Mitchell to be able to play multiple positions."
"We need to have a lot of guys that can do that. [DeVonta Smith] can play a couple different things. Kristian Story can play a couple of different things. That's one of the things that we tried to do in camp, we got guys rolling all over the place. It does sort of sometimes affect the repetitions that a guy gets at a certain position, but I think it's important that guys have a background and a basic knowledge of information so we get guys injured during the season we can move guys around and have a chance to get the best people in the field. Same thing on the offensive line. You know, guys you got to be able to play multiple positions."
On RB Jamarion Miller...
"Jam's got a little thigh bruise or something, so he's been a little limited for a couple of days but he's working through it. He actually some scrimmaged today, I don't think it was probably 100% — but before he got hurt, he was doing really, really well. I think running back is we've got four or five guys that can play there. The key to the drill is keeping them healthy so that they can continue to develop and progress and complement each other."
On Keon Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre...
"They've both got to learn, and they're learning and progressing. Those guys weren't here [during spring practice]. We only had four guys that weren't here in the spring. So their learning curve is a little bit behind a lot of the other guys but they have a lot of potential, they have a lot of ability. Outside linebacker is a position that not very many guys played when they were in high school, they played defensive end and they rushed up the field all the time. To teach guys how to play that is a little bit of a work in progress. How do you drop, when do you drop? How do you stand up and play and use your hands when can you rush up the field and when can you not? So all those things are sort of things that those guys need to learn, but man we're happy to have them both here. They've got tremendous talent and ability, they got the right attitude and and work hard."
On the team's physicality so far...
"We've had two days in pads and one scrimmage. We've got some guys that are pretty physical. We got some guys that need to get more physical, but I kind of like what Pete Rose said the other night. [Former Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson], he said was a great manager. And he asked him one time what's the key to handling players? [Sparky] said, 'Well, you got to know when to kick him in the ass. You got to want to pat him on the ass. And you got to know when not to say anything.' So we're trying to figure that out. But I think I've been kicking them in the ass little bit more than I've been patting them on the ass. So we're just [going to] keep on keepin' on."