Oklahoma – 45
Alabama – 31
An Interview With:
COACH NICK SABAN
THE MODERATOR: We’ll begin with Coach Saban and players from Alabama. We’re joined by AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosely, and I think Kevin Norwood will be joining us.
COACH SABAN: First of all, I’d like to thank the city of New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl for putting on a tremendous event here. The players really enjoyed it.
I’d also like to thank our fans who came here to make an effort to support our team.
They’ve been fantastic doing that all year long, and certainly appreciate them here tonight. We recognize that the result we got tonight was not really what we wanted it to be, but there’s certainly some lessons to be learned and things that we can build on for the future.
You know, we have a formula that we try to follow here, and I think it’s important that the players know that it’s a formula that will help us be successful. And some of the things we did tonight did not allow us to be successful.
But I’d like to recognize the seniors, three of whom are here tonight as captains, who have had an unprecedented career at the University of Alabama in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish. Winning 60 games over five years is a really significant accomplishment for them, and they have been great ambassadors for the program, both on and off the field in terms of their performance as well as how they’ve represented themselves, their family, and the institution.
I think when you have the kind of success that we have had here in the past, it doesn’t happen by accident. I think it takes a lot of hard work, and I think a lot of people have to buy in to doing things at a very high standard, which these seniors and a lot of former players have set. And we certainly didn’t play maybe up to that standard tonight.
But even though we outgained them in the game, we probably gained enough yards, but we had four turnovers that led to 28 points, and one turnover in the red zone and one missed field goal in the first half, and those things probably were, you know, a big difference in the game.
But we’re all responsible for that, and as a coach and as a coaching staff, we need to do a much better job of getting our players prepared to be able to go out and play.
You gotta give Oklahoma’s team a lot of credit. They were fired up and ready to play, like most teams we play. Everybody’s got something to prove when they play against Alabama, and Oklahoma certainly did a good job in terms of how they performed tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. (Question off microphone)?
AJ MCCARRON: Oklahoma did a good job of mixing things up, showing us some things we hadn’t seen.
But you put it all on me. I had two turnovers, ended up scoring 14 points, and we lost by 14.
So, you know, it’s football. It happens. I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but I’ll definitely take the loss and definitely take the blame, because a lot of it is probably my fault.
KEVIN NORWOOD: It’s not just a oneman team. We all win and lose together. AJ can’t put it all on himself. I can’t let him do that. There’s times I could have batted the ball down. There’s a time where I could have saved the block from when C.J. was going on the punt return.
It’s not all on AJ; it’s all on us, and we didn’t come out and play like we should.
Q. AJ, you said you would make a decision on the Senior Bowl. Have you thought about that decision?
AJ MCCARRON: I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m trying to enjoy this last moment with my teammates and enjoy this time with my family, and then when I announce it, you’ll hear it.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Derrick Henry’s night, looked like he got more and more confidence with him as the day went on, and how special a player can he be?
COACH SABAN: Derrick had a really good Bowl practice. Actually we decided that he was our second best back going into this game, and we were going to give him an opportunity based on his performance in practice and what he had done and the confidence that he had gained throughout the course of the season in terms of knowing what to do and playing fast.
And certainly had an outstanding game tonight and did a really good job for us, and I think he has a bright future.
Q. Coach, this week you talked about and stressed the importance of your team battling against adversity and responding against tough times. You have that happen several times in this game today where you cut a 14point lead to seven. Can you talk overall how your team faced adversity tonight?
COACH SABAN: We created a lot of the adversity that we faced ourselves in some of the things that we did and didn’t do. We talked about the turnovers before. We didn’t play very well on defense in the first half. We didn’t play very well on third down. We didn’t get off the field in third and long three or four times in the game, which were critical factors in the game.
I was really proud of the way our players played in the second half. We could have, being down 14, especially with the turnover right before the half and the missed field goal when I walked in the locker room, I thought maybe these guys weren’t going to go out and do what they needed to do in the second half, but I thought they responded really well, went out and played one play at a time, got several stops on defense, got back in the game, scored a touchdown, put a good drive together and had some other opportunities and never took advantage of them. You’ve gotta give Oklahoma some credit for that.
And we had a chance at the end of the game when it was 3831, but turned the ball over again, got beat. That was definitely just a sack. We didn’t have a chance on that one.
So I was really proud of the way our guys competed in the game and came back from a lot of adversity in the game, and I thought they responded well and ready to play well early in the game. I just don’t think we played well defensively in the first half and never got any stops.
Q. Given your expectations until the last minutes of the Auburn game, do you think your team was completely focused for this?
COACH SABAN: Well, we practiced well and I thought that the team I can’t blame it on that. I thought our team late in the season from the LSU game on maybe didn’t have the focus we needed to have. We didn’t pay attention to detail, didn’t do little things right, didn’t practice well. I think that eventually caught up with us in the Auburn game.
But I actually thought that the players responded in practice pretty well for this game. And we put over 500 yards of offense up. Somebody had to do something right.
I don’t think that we played as well on defense as we’re capable of or should have or you know, we really had a lot of guys that were hurt in the secondary that couldn’t practice all the time, and I think those are some of the areas that showed up, you know, not so good tonight in terms of some of the big plays that they made and some of the third downs that we didn’t make.
But as a team we didn’t play well enough to win, and Oklahoma really outplayed us. And I really can’t blame it on the lack of focus. I just don’t think that our players realized sometimes that they won so much that they realize sometimes what it really takes to win every game and that you can never take anything for granted, and that everyone that plays us has something to prove. And they have to change the way they think, and that’s difficult to do.
And they’ve gotta stick with the process with what they have to do to do it, and it’s tough.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.