ALABAMA MEDIA DAY
Coach Saban’s quotes are followed by player quotes
COACH NICK SABAN
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone, Coach Nick Saban.
Coach, do you want to make an opening statement or go right to questions?
COACH SABAN: I made several opening statements. But we certainly appreciate the opportunity we have here in the Sugar Bowl playing against a very good LSU team.
We certainly appreciate the hospitality that the Sugar Bowl committee and all the folks that have worked so hard to create, the hospitality that we’ve been offered here in the city of New Orleans, which is a great city. And this is a great competitive venue, and we certainly appreciate the opportunity that we have to participate in it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Much has been made how this is a home game in a sense for LSU. It’s also a home game in a sense for Ms. Terry given her background here in Louisiana. How have you been able to what’s your plan to account for her whereabouts? The motivated shopper can do some real damage while you’re coaching up the Tide.
COACH SABAN: It’s actually interesting that someone out there has the perspective that I have more to worry about than just the game. When we arrived here, Terry had two of her old sidekicks from Baton Rouge that she used to go shopping with at New Orleans meet her at the bus and she never even came up to the room.
So she loves to shop here. We’ve been here when we haven’t been able to get all the stuff in the plane to go home. But if that makes her happy, I’m happy (laughter).
Q. How did Jordan Jefferson change the first game and challenge your preparation for this championship game?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think his athletic ability in terms of how he can beat you with his feet as well as being a good passer, big arm, good skilled players outside, which you always have to be concerned about, but the fact that and it happened a couple times in the first game that you get him all covered, he takes off running, their ability to run the option and sort of zone run plays for him adds another dimension to their offense, which I think is very effective, very challenging for any defensive team.
So we certainly are going to be challenged by his ability to not only throw it and make big plays down the field but also beat you with his ability to run the ball.
Q. How confident are you in Phillip Sims’ ability to fill in for AJ if he got hurt?
COACH SABAN: Well, we’ve been very confident in Phillip Sims all year long. It was a very close race between the two of those guys in the start of the year. And he’s consistently improved throughout the course of the year. Gets all the reps in practice.
So Phillip’s a very talented guy. I think he has a good understanding of the offense. This certainly would be a challenging circumstance, if he had the opportunity to go in this game, but one I think that he’s probably ready for.
Q. Because a lot of the players on this roster have been in this championship setting recently, how has it helped you guys this week in terms of taking that businesslike approach and not getting all overwhelmed by this?
COACH SABAN: I think that regardless of how many times you’ve been in a game like this, there’s still going to be some anxiety that goes along with playing in a game like this. I do think that maybe some of the older players on the team that are the leaders on our team who have been in this situation before have certainly helped some of the other players who are looking for leadership.
I think it’s been helpful to some of the younger players in terms of the leadership that we’ve gotten from the experience that those guys have had in playing in games like this.
Q. How would you describe the physical level of play in the first game?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think it was a great football game. I think it was a very physical game on both sides of the ball. I think probably the difference in these two teams than most teams is how both teams play on the line of scrimmage. Their offensive line, their defensive line, our offensive line, our defensive line, I think very physical.
A lot of good hits. A lot of good tackling, a lot of aggressive play on both sides of the ball. And we kind of expect the same kind of game this time around.
Q. You’ve gone against Les now so much, what, if anything, sort of stands out about the way he runs his program from what you can see as a competitor?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think we have as much respect for LSU and their program and Les Miles and his coaching staff and what they do as anybody that we play anytime, anywhere. They have really good players. They do a really good job of recruiting those players and developing those players.
And they play extremely well on the field. You can’t have the level of success that they’ve had on a consistent basis without doing a fantastic job as a coach and a leader. And I think Les has done that. I think he’s done a marvelous job.
Q. Just want to know how much you got the chance to know Les just from running into him, any kind of a friendship might be a bit of a stretch, but any type of a relationship beyond football with Les?
COACH SABAN: Well, from my perspective, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Les. I like him. We do have occasions where we visit at meetings and different things like that.
And I think he has some great perspective on and it’s important to him how we all sort of team up to try to make college football better for football players. And I think we have a common denominator there that certainly I have a lot of respect for him because of that. And we’ve tried to work together to make things better in our league and in the NCAA.
Q. Eight years ago you had LSU here. How big an advantage was it to come in here as what’s supposed to be a neutral site but clearly that night wasn’t? And what do you think: How is it going to be Monday night?
COACH SABAN: You know, I think that our players need to understand that anytime you play at a neutral site or anytime you play on the road it’s very challenging. And I think the number one thing our players need to do is focus on what they need to do on the field every play throughout the game for 60 minutes in the game and try and finish the game a little bit better. Finish drives, do the things we need to do to be successful.
And I think that we understand we played in some tough circumstances. And I don’t think that that’s something that you have to look to as a challenge so that we know we’re going to have to overcome adversity in this game, and the circumstance that we play in here is just one of the adversities that we’ll have to have the mental toughness to deal with.
Q. Did you feel eight years ago that that helped you, the crowd in here helped you?
COACH SABAN: Well, we kind of approach it the same way with our players; that we were going to have to play our best against a very good Oklahoma team and that we needed to focus on the task at hand and that external factors weren’t going to contribute in the game.
So I think there’s emotion in the game. I don’t think you can play a 60minute game on emotion. I think that it’s all about what’s important to you and what you’re willing to do to sustain it and finish it.
And I think that’s going to be a key for our team in this game.
Q. I know you and Terry have really deep ties, good friendships with the folks here in south Louisiana. Given that, is this at all like a homecoming for you of any type of sort?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think that not that we’ve taken any polls, but we certainly have a lot of good friendships here. We have a tremendous amount of respect for what was accomplished here. It was a special, special memory for us to come to LSU and be able to accomplish what we accomplished.
And we did it because we had a great team and all the people here in Louisiana contributed to that, who contributed to supporting what we were trying to do.
So that’s a great memory that we have a tremendous amount of respect for and appreciate probably more than most people know. And we really feel good about the fact that we have so many folks that have remained good friends with us. And as you get older, those relationships are very, very important to you.
And the relationships that we have with lots of folks here in Louisiana are certainly important to us. But we also know that we represent the other side now, and we hope that people can respect who we are, but we also know that they’re going to be passionate about what they want to accomplish for their team.
Q. Could you tell me what have you done to address the kicking issues that got you in the first game? And will you approach down and distance in the red zone any differently because of what happened in the first game?
COACH SABAN: You know, we have a lot of confidence in our kickers. I think that the approach that we’ve tried to use is what I’m as much concerned about is the kicking situation, if you’re talking about the field goals, is what we did prior to each one of those opportunities.
We actually had negative plays that put us in a more difficult circumstance relative to having a high percentage to kick. I mean, if you’re in the NFL and you’re kicking over 45yard field goals, maybe you’re 33 or 40 percent. And if you’re a baseball player and you hit .333, it probably gets you in the Hall of Fame.
But I think what we’ve tried to do with our guys is say, look, you had a bunch of low percentage kicks in that game and we are confident in your ability to just stay focused on the process of what you need to do to make your best kick.
And that is the approach that we’ve tried to use with our players and certainly have confidence they will do well in this game because they’ve done well in other games all year long.
And it will not affect our strategy in terms of how we approach what we do relative to making those decisions, because we are confident in those players.
Q. Rueben Randle has made a lot of explosive plays this year. He didn’t the first time around against you. How important is holding him in check to slow this LSU offense down?
COACH SABAN: We think Rueben Randle is as fine a receiver as we play against all year and will play against again. He’s big. He’s got great speed. He can make difficult catches. And he’s a physical player.
We tried to get him to come to Alabama actually because we thought when he was in high school he was going to be this kind of player.
So I think not only Rueben Randle, even though he’s made a lot of explosive plays, they have a lot of players on their offensive team who can make explosive plays. And I think it’s important that every player on defense do their job and do it with great technique, because that’s going to help them get in the right position to prevent some of those plays.
And that was something that we’re able to do in the first game, and it’s going to be really, really important to be able to try to manage that in this game as well.
Q. A couple of years ago in Pasadena somebody asked you if you were enjoying the experience and you kind of rolled your eyes. The perception is you don’t like us. These championship things do not come along very often. Not that you’re getting
COACH SABAN: I’m having a very nice time here.
Q. Not that you’re getting old, but obviously these experiences are not going to keep continuing for you. Do you allow yourself at all to enjoy this and kind of soak it up?
COACH SABAN: I think it depends on how you sort of categorize enjoyment. I enjoy the competition. I enjoy the fact that our team has an opportunity to play in such a great competitive venue. I enjoy the work of trying to get the team ready to play the way they’re going to need to play to have an opportunity to be successful.
It’s very challenging. So that’s my enjoyment. Now, maybe your perception of enjoyment is you go out and have a party. Well, that’s not my enjoyment of this experience. We have been to the Sugar Bowl four times, and I really do enjoy the relationships that we have with the people here at the Sugar Bowl.
So in my own way, as the coach, I enjoy this. Putting the team together, putting the plan together, to have an opportunity to play against a great team and see if you can be successful, that’s my enjoyment.
So that’s my fun. It may not be other people’s fun. So I enjoy it. In my own way I enjoy it. This is what you work for, to have these kind of opportunities.
Q. Speaking of some people’s idea of fun, I know there’s some people that have actually camped out overnight for your radio show. Have you met them or talked to them, and what do you think of people who would camp out for a radio show?
COACH SABAN: The radio show probably won’t be that good (laughter). But we do appreciate the support that our fans our fans have been wonderful in the five years that we’ve been in Alabama.
I think the fact that we have such a good team, that starts with our leadership and our administration, Dr. Witt, our president, Mal Moore, our athletic director. And the fans and the passion they have and the enthusiasm they’ve created is much appreciated by our team and by us.
And I think all that positive energy of everybody sort of working together to try to restore the tradition that Alabama has enjoyed, that passion has contributed to that. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for it.
Q. Trent Richardson was asked what’s the biggest misconception about Coach Saban, and he said everybody thinks he’s mean, sort of playing off the question you had before. And he said: Listen. Coach Saban keeps us loose. Coach Saban is not as much of a taskmaster as people sort of make him out to be. I think I’ve heard other people ask you this question: What do you think is the biggest misconception of not just your personality but maybe your coaching style?
COACH SABAN: Well, I think that, first of all, there’s certain things that we think are important to being a champion. And hard work is one of those things, a tremendous commitment to the goals and things that are important to you.
But I also think it’s important that people learn how to be responsible for their own selfdetermination, which is accountability. And to have that in an organization, any organization, you have to define what the expectation is of the people in the organization.
And I find that players and people in our organization really feel good about the fact that they know what the expectation is.
I kind of learned this from Bill Belichick when I was at the Cleveland Browns with him as defensive coordinator, when he was the head coach there, and it was about doing your job and the responsibility and the accountability that goes with that.
But as a leader, make sure you define what that is. And we believe that it’s important to be very positive in your approach to doing that, which I think is where the misconception probably starts. You know, you don’t have to be negative to do that.
And I think that’s probably what our players think. And that we are positive in our approach to what we do. But it’s also defined and the expectation is defined for them and we expect them to be responsible to it. And it’s really the only way you can have a team, because for people to trust and respect each other, which is important to togetherness on a team, they have to all buy into the same things and you can’t have one guy saying, well, he did this but I’m not allowed to do that, because that creates divisiveness which is never going to allow you to have the togetherness that you need to be successful in difficult circumstances.
So those things we believe in, and I think that it’s the way we do it that there’s a misconception on because it’s done in a very positive way.
Q. How different, if at all, is your preparation this time around considering the change of quarterback for LSU?
COACH SABAN: Well, just like the last time, because we have a lot of respect for both of their quarterbacks and both of their quarterbacks have a defined skill level that they play at at a very high standard.
So we still feel that it’s important that we’re ready for either or both in terms of the way they’ve used them in the past, even though who you feel is going to start the game and play the game becomes the most important. And I think that we have respect for both guys.
But we certainly we certainly have worked on things that if we’re in either one of those circumstances or situations, that our players would be able to perform and understand what they like to do with those particular guys in the game at quarterback.
Q. Nick, your field goal kicking was such a focal point in that first game. Could you talk about where you’re at with that this time around and just sort of the general thoughts as you go in?
COACH SABAN: Right. We kind of addressed it before in terms of our concern was more about the plays leading up to the field goal attempts that we had, because they were all difficult attempts. And we had negative plays that were created by their defense.
But in some ways we contributed to those things with penalties and unforced errors that put us in a little more difficult field position to maybe have the high percentage kick that we’d like to have on field goals. Most of those we missed were not high percentage kicks.
We’re very confident in the players we have. They’ve done a good job for us throughout the year. We understand that that was a big focal point in that particular game, but I also think that the degree of difficulty the percentage was not that far off of what it would be in those types of situations.
ALABAMA PLAYER QUOTES
Q. What do you think about this place? Pretty darned cool?
BARRETT JONES: It’s pretty awesome. I think it’s gotten a whole lot been some renovations since we were here in ’08, and it looks really, really good.
We’re excited to be here on such an awesome weekend when the Saints are playing, and we’re going to cap it off on Monday.
Really excited about the game and looking forward to it.
Q. Take me through your mindset right now. Are you anxious? Are you ready to play this thing? We’re still a few days away.
BARRETT JONES: Yeah, I think we’re ready to play. It’s been I don’t know what the exact day count is, but it’s been so many days since we last played. It’s almost like a whole other miniature season.
So we’re anxious to get back out there on the field.
Q. Last time you guys played back in November, a lot of people complained about the scoring. But as a football purist, I love the physical nature of the game. As an offensive lineman, how much fun was that for you, just hardhitting, smashmouth for 60 minutes?
BARRETT JONES: Definitely the most physical game I’ve ever been a part of. We definitely want to score some more points, but we played really physical the first game and going to do that again the second game.
Q. Five media sessions this week. Is this media overkill?
BARRETT JONES: I guess it depends on who you ask. I think we’re all right. This is a big stage, and we expect this. And you gotta just be thankful that we have an opportunity where the media actually wants to talk to us five times.
So we’d rather have it that way than the other way around.
Q. Are you more tired of practicing or talking to us?
BARRETT JONES: I’m just ready to play the game. Practicing against your own team for so many days in a row definitely gets old.
You guys, we never get tired of y’all; we love talking to you guys.
Q. (Indiscernible) said yesterday he had a chip on his shoulder going into this game about this game about the critics who say you don’t belong here. Is that a heady approach, having a chip on your shoulder in this game?
BARRETT JONES: I think so. I think a lot of people look at that game. That’s really the only game they saw of us all season, see we scored six points and talk about how our offense is terrible. And they fail to realize we actually were the second best offense in the SEC statisticswise.
So I think offensively, especially, we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, just because people say we can’t play offense because that’s the only game they really watched.
Q. Can you understand the argument, if you played for Oklahoma State, why they should be here? Can you understand that side of it at all?
BARRETT JONES: Honestly, not really, because we have a system in place and that’s how the system turned out.
I think if it was the other way, we’d have a tough time having an argument because if we start questioning the system and changing it, then, you know we have to have a way we decide who plays in the game, and so this is the way that the system’s set.
Q. Last time Alabama won a national title it was 1993, but it was the 1992 season. How old were you in 1992?
BARRETT JONES: Two. I was born in 1990. I was two years old. But I didn’t watch the game then, but I’ve watched it since.
Q. You didn’t remember too much back then?
BARRETT JONES: No, I don’t remember it from then. But obviously seen the play and a lot of their plays, some highlights from that game.
Q. We try to get to know you guys a little better. I hear back in your younger days very musically talented, you played the violin. Can you enlighten me on those days? Do you still play?
BARRETT JONES: I did play the violin for about 10 or 11 years. It’s something I really enjoyed doing, and, yeah, I don’t really play anymore. But I can still pick it up and play. You play for that long, you can still you don’t lose it.
Q. When was the last time you played?
BARRETT JONES: Last week, actually. Now that you guys found out about this violin talent, some of my friends were begging me to play. So I finally pulled it out and played for them a few songs.
Q. Are you in favor of a college football playoff?
BARRETT JONES: I don’t know. It’s not for me to say. That’s a tough one. I think it’s kind of a misconception that all the players hate the BCS. And it’s hard to hate the BCS when you’re in the SEC because it has been so good to us. And certainly we feel like if we win our conference, then we’ll have a chance to play for the title.
Q. Because I’m surveying the players, would you be a yes, no, or undecided?
BARRETT JONES: If I was in favor for a playoff?
BARRETT JONES: Whew. I think I would be the plusone kind of playoff?
Q. Well, if it’s a yes, my next question is: How many teams would you want in it? So there’s no set way to do it.
BARRETT JONES: Yeah, I’m going to go undecided, just because I’m not really sure. I definitely don’t want to be part of a huge playoff because I think so many more games.
Q. 16 games is too much?
BARRETT JONES: We already play enough games, in my opinion.
Q. Mark, talk about facing Jefferson for an entire game this time as opposed to having to prepare for two guys last time and what challenges you’ve seen him bring to the defense, going up against him.
MARK BARRON: We had to prepare for him in the first game, so our preparation is pretty much the same. Last time (indiscernible) as far as our preparation.
Q. Do you go back and look at his success running the ball and maybe focus a little bit more on that this time?
MARK BARRON: You know, (indiscernible). Like I said, most of the preparation is pretty much the same.
Q. Are you feeling okay? You think you’re going to be 100 percent going in this game?
MARK BARRON: Yeah, I’m pretty good. Maybe; maybe not. We’ll see by then. But I’m pretty good. I’ll be able to do what I need to do.
Q. What is added to their running game from the last time you saw them?
MARK BARRON: They’re a physical team. I think depth, more depth. I guess they can give some of the other backs more rest and keep refreshed.
Q. You’ve experienced something like this, this media day before. What did you tell the younger guys to expect on a day as crazy as this?
MARK BARRON: Actually, I haven’t even talked to them about it yet. Haven’t had time to talk about it. We woke up, ate, and came straight over.
Q. And how much has that business approach, allbusiness approach, been leading into this week as far as Coach Saban and the coaches not really doing a whole lot of outside stuff but just keeping it focused on the game?
MARK BARRON: We want to have fun, but at the same time we know what our mission is down here. If they want to have fun, but we gotta keep our focus towards this game.
Q. Speaking about the depth of running backs, how difficult is it? Most teams you can key on one, maybe two, but LSU has four in which they just keep fresh legs every single time coming at you, as they get back to the line, the linebackers.
MARK BARRON: They can be very difficult because if they catch you in a oneway tie, they might have a slight advantage over you.
But they all have different traits and we just have to make sure we know what’s going on and what each back does.
Q. Talk about anything interesting that you’ve seen so far since you’ve been in New Orleans?
MARK BARRON: Everybody is interesting. Down on Bourbon Street they have all types of things. They’ve got guys wearing women’s clothing and there’s people dancing, having a good time.
But it seems like it’s a good place to be.
Q. Mark, are you in favor of a college football playoff?
MARK BARRON: (Indiscernible) playoffs sometimes I feel like, and other times I feel like it’s fine the way it is.
Q. If you had to do a yes, no, or an undecided, would you be undecided?
MARK BARRON: I’m undecided.
Q. Talk about you guys really preparing for Jarrett Lee and not really Jordan Jefferson, the switch this time around. Do you feel more comfortable knowing who is going to be the quarterback at LSU as you prepare for Monday’s game, unlike you guys were in November when you had to really face two, you guys were prepared to face two?
MARK BARRON: We pretty much prepare to face two this time as well. Like I said, that first one we have to prepare for both and we knew what each guy did and what they were good at and what they weren’t good at.
So it’s the same way, prepare for both of them.
Q. Courtney, when you think about this whole situation, let’s face it, you cannot wait until Sunday, how agonizing is it? Because you guys have gone through all the huddles.
COURTNEY UPSHAW: Mainly it’s the practices that’s weighing on us. You know what I’m saying? Get to the game. A lot of people just want to go and play the game.
But I know here with Coach Saban it take time and preparation, and he’s going to have us ready for the game.
Q. Talk about being here. This is something that you’ve been dreaming about. Last year you had to watch Auburn do what they did. And I asked the same question yesterday to Richardson. It was simply this: It’s not about winning the first game; it’s about winning this game. Explain that.
COURTNEY UPSHAW: Yeah, I mean, that’s what I tell a lot of people. A lot of people was kind of upset to hear that Alabama was in the big game. And they talk about the first game.
But, like you said, it’s not about winning the first game. We want to come out this game and hopefully come out with a W.
We’re playing a good LSU team. And we put on a show for y’all the first game, and we plan on doing the same.
Q. How did you guys feel when everybody kept saying Oklahoma State deserves a shot, Alabama had their chance? Do you feel disrespected?
COURTNEY UPSHAW: Honestly, for me, I feel everybody do deserve a chance. I mean, they had an outstanding record this season. And I watched them play in the Bowl game and stuff like that.
But, I mean, people vote. They voted us into the game. So, I mean, that’s my take on the whole thing.
Q. What do you see when you watch that, you see teams that don’t play the defense your team plays or LSU plays? Do you feel like you’d handle one of those teams that gives up points?
COURTNEY UPSHAW: I mean, I’m sure I got a bunch of faith in my team. I’m sure that anybody that we play against it will be a good game, defense, offensivewise.
Watching games like that, it’s fun watching all the scoring. But being a defensive player, you want to see a lot more defense.
Q. Alabama and LSU have kind of been put on the same plane, and then you have other teams at the next level. Do you feel like Alabama should be on that plane with LSU given that they’ve got 13 wins, undefeated, beat you at Tuscaloosa? Do you feel that’s right?
COURTNEY UPSHAW: I do feel my team do deserve to be at the top with LSU. We’re a good team, too. We lost to LSU three points. I mean, defensive battle throughout the whole game, overtime.
Like I said, people voted us back in the game, and it’s on us to go out and prove to them that they was right for putting us back in the game.
Q. How emotionally has it been for you this season? We drove through Tuscaloosa coming here, and obviously the damage of the tornado was there. How much is that on your mind, knowing that, still, with all that damage there, if you guys bring back a national championship, it changes the community?
COURTNEY UPSHAW: Well, for me, it’s not that it’s emotional, it’s just that we gotta, you know what I’m saying, hopefully bring it back for the fans and for the people who was in the tornado, who died, had family members who died, and stuff like that.
But it’s just that we want to win it for ourselves and also the fans.
Q. Talk about how Jordan Jefferson changed the game in that first meeting. You came in there and did the option. You guys had a little bit of a problem stopping when he came in there.
COURTNEY UPSHAW: I wouldn’t say it was a problem, it was just that we gotta execute with the defense that was called and have people in the right spots. And they made big plays for it. He’s a good back. He made big plays himself on that option.
It’s just on us to go out and execute the defense that’s called.
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: We’re going to get started and get ready for the game come Monday.
Q. Any kind of nerves on your team?
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: Oh, no, we’re just ready to play. That’s one thing that we’ve been preparing for all year. That’s one thing, we came together as a unit. We always prepare every week the same.
And we know it’s a onegame season right here, and we know they’re going to bring their all and they know we’re going to bring ours. So we’re ready for the war.
Q. You’re more jacked up now that you’re here and it’s real?
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: Most definitely, most definitely. Last time we played, and being in the championship game, it’s the most exciting thing that you can have in the college football career.
And so get out there and practice tomorrow, the tempo is going to be very heightened. It’s very heightened even the last few days. We know we’re in New Orleans and we’re ready to ball.
Q. (Question regarding long layoff)?
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: Just getting back into the game. Me as a football player and our team, we don’t take no days off. And we have scrimmages and we go ahead and practice every day.
So for us to say that we haven’t played for a long time, we haven’t had a real game, but we’ve been playing hard and practicing as hard as we can.
We’re prepared for this and we can’t wait to get out there.
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: Yes, very interesting when it comes to stuff like this. It’s been so long. Getting into the routine and getting ready for this game. You can’t do nothing but get antsy. When it comes down to stuff like this, you’re ready for it and try to be prepared and make sure nobody got hurt on the way up here, going through the Bowl practices. And everybody’s ready 100 percent, ready to go.
Q. (Question regarding being in New Orleans)?
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: Of course we’re trying to not get into any trouble. We have a good team. I don’t expect anybody getting in no trouble, nobody looking for trouble.
We’re out here strictly business for us and try to get the W come Monday.
Q. What are your emotions like (indiscernible) the national championship?
DONT’A HIGHTOWER: I can’t wait. I can’t explain how my emotions is right now. I’m shaky right now talking about this, just getting out there playing. I couldn’t even sleep on the plane.
I’m ready for this game. I’ve been waiting for this game all this year and we made it here and we’re going to make sure we try to play it all right.
Q. What’s your thoughts on the rematch? Does either team have an advantage when you’ve already played somebody? And I guess most people seem to think that the team that lost the first one has a bit of an advantage, maybe they’re a little more motivated or whatever. What do you think?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I wouldn’t use the word “rematch” as a term of describing the game, it’s just a battle between the two best teams in the country and seeing if we can come out with the goals they set for in the beginning of the year. So, I mean, our goal was to be the best team in the country.
By doing that, we got to where we want to be. And those guys, LSU, they’re a great team, but it’s time for us to show what we’ve been working for.
Q. How much do you look back, though, on that game? Certainly you’ve obviously studied it for game planning and stuff like that. How much impact does that game have?
JOSH CHAPMAN: It has a lot. We’ve learned a lot from that game. The game kind of made our season what it is now. It’s about finishing. We didn’t finish that game and didn’t capitalize. Those guys capitalized on our mistakes, and they finished stronger than we did.
We learned a lot from it. We go out and finish. Coaches showed us when we do things right, it’s hard to beat us.
Q. Not giving anything away, but do you all look at how much can you learn, like little tendencies or things from the game, just looking at film? How much does that help you that you’ve got film on them actually playing them?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I mean, every team has tendencies. We’ve got tendencies on our team. Certain teams do certain stuff. You have to learn and study film. Once you study film a lot, you get to learn the system of where the ball’s going or stuff like that from a defensive player’s standpoint.
So a lot of teams have certain tendencies, and people learn how to study those.
Q. Do you use any of the social media: Facebook or Twitter?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I got Facebook, all that stuff. I’m not really into it all. I just have it just to have it, really.
Q. Gotta have it nowadays. But does Coach Saban have any rules on that?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I mean, he has rules about it. But at the same time he allows you to have it. But he don’t want you putting anything out there to embarrass yourself or the team. You embarrass the team if you put something crazy out there, but also yourself.
Q. Does he have somebody watching to keep up
JOSH CHAPMAN: That’s one thing we really don’t pay no attention to. That’s something that’s outside of it.
Q. You do it during the season at all or
JOSH CHAPMAN: I really am not into it like this, so I can’t even speak on it.
Q. Can you talk about LSU’s running backs? They’ve got a stable where four running backs, guys that can interchange with (indiscernible), all those guys, to where they have fresh legs. How important is it for you guys to shore up the defensive line, not have holes, keeping them running east to west?
JOSH CHAPMAN: They have great running backs. They run the ball hard, fast. They have a great offensive line that blocks for them. Those guys find the hole and run through it, run downhill.
That’s going to be a game that’s going to be won at the line of scrimmage. We’re going to go out and dominate those guys.
Q. This time with Jordan Jefferson being the starting quarterback, very mobile, very able to get away from guys and make things happen with his feet. Do you like playing guys like that? Is it difficult playing guys like that? What’s your mindset?
JOSH CHAPMAN: My mindset is going out and doing our job. He’s a great running quarterback. He can run and throw the ball, so we’ve got to contain the guy.
The thing is, we’ve got to affect the guy. That’s what we’ve been practicing on is affecting the quarterback.
Q. With media day, do you get tired of answering the same questions over and over again?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I mean, it’s questions they’re going to be asked, so I don’t mind.
Q. This game, if it plays out like the first one, it’s going to come down to the trenches. And what is it that you guys have been preparing for, obviously, now that you’ve seen them once? How do you approach this differently than the first game?
JOSH CHAPMAN: One thing we learned from the first game is finishing. That’s one thing. Those guys capitalize on our mistakes. And the game is always won out in the trenches, who can dominate the line of scrimmage.
That’s one thing we harp ourselves on here. Dominate, creating a new line of scrimmage on the defense. And our offensive line does a great job of knocking guys back, and we improved on that.
Q. What would you rather do? Would you rather take up two, three blockers and let somebody else make a play, or would you rather get through there and make a play?
JOSH CHAPMAN: I like being down in the trenches. I like two people on me, because my thing is like it’s like a fight in the backyard. You got two trying to fight you, somebody better come free from my own team.
It’s fun down there fighting in the trenches. I know I got great linebackers, great secondary behind me making plays. It’s fun when you’re down, they got three guys on you, and you hear tackle, Hightower, Mosley, somebody out there coming for you.
That’s one thing about our defense and running this 34, somebody is always going to be free when you got there.
WILLIAM VLACHOS: Playing in the National Championship two years ago, you know, we really had no idea of the opponent, Texas, because we really can’t gauge on film what they’re really like because they don’t play the same people we play.
So with an opponent you’re so familiar with, and you know their scheme inside and out even before this preparation began, yeah, I think it gets a little monotonous to get ready; but it is a great opportunity to be able to refine the game plan and stuff like that.
Q. Being an offensive guy, I know I’m sure you’ve heard everyone go: There were no touchdowns the first time, and they kind of grind away and say we don’t want to see a rematch. Not that you have to respond to that, but what do you tell people and say why that was a great college football game?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: I think it was old school. Obviously people, I’m sure, enjoyed watching West Virginia put up 70 points in a game. I’m sure it was entertaining. I know I was entertained by it.
But when you look at the core of football, you look at blocking, look at tackling, you look at rushing the ball, great defense, special teams play, all that type stuff, I think that game incorporated it all at a very high level. Even though there wasn’t many points scored, you’re dealing with probably the two best defenses in college football in that game.
Two offenses are also very good, and the defenses, I guess, one out, and obviously weren’t able to put the ball in the end zone when we got in the red area. I think for a true football fan, I think they really enjoyed that game.
Q. Are there ways, when you look at it and say you can have a 96 game and it could be let’s say a 96 game in the Big Ten between Indiana and Purdue, and you have people look at it and go: It’s not arena football, whatever, and they can look at it and say that’s a different game than the 96 game you guys had, just because you look at it, you say it’s more physical or whatever, but how do you judge what’s a really good football game if you’re sitting at home watching it?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: You know, the last couple of years, all I can watch is the centers, whenever I watch football. And people will tell you, I don’t watch sports. I don’t watch football games unless it’s people that we’re going to play.
I pretty much pay attention to the SEC, and I watch the Super Bowl. But I think you’re right. I think that when you see a game, with the great talent on the field and the little things being done right in the physical game, that’s the type of game that I appreciate to watch.
Q. When you watched the West Virginia game, are you just looking at it going: This is kind of amusing, because it goes so back and forth like that, or the Baylor game, have you had a chance to see that?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: I didn’t see the Baylor game. When you watch the West Virginia game, you look at the mistakes and you see how costly they are. You look at a 14point turnaround, if they don’t fumble the ball at the goal line, the guy goes 99 yards for a touchdown. It’s fun. You’re sitting there waiting on Clemson to stop them.
That’s something in the SEC, particularly the defensive linemen, they’re so strong, I think better than everywhere else in the country. Just kind of I don’t think those type games are really a possibility.
Q. Could you ever see yourself in that kind of offense, the scheme that they run?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: I watched West Virginia’s film because they played LSU earlier this year. Yeah, you know, I wouldn’t be on an offense that’s very heavy pass, I don’t think, because I’m kind of a perchedoff center as far as zone schemes and stuff like that; but, yeah, I think I could play that offense.
Q. Can you talk about Alfred McCullough’s development throughout this year and how he sort of gained in season opportunity given the injuries you’ve had to endure on the line this year?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: He’s done a great job. He’s a fifthyear senior came here playing defense first. He wasn’t a starter going into week one. And I think, you know, whether he deserved to be or not was kind of irrelevant, but I think he put a lot into the preseason and the offseason to be a starter, and he wasn’t.
And our new offensive line coach said to hang in there, keep working hard, everything would work out, and sure enough it did. He comes in halfway through the year and doesn’t miss a beat and starting a National Championship.
Q. Do you feel like things like the Barrett Jones’ injury were some of the reasons why things fell apart towards the end of the LSU game?
WILLIAM VLACHOS: I mean, no, not really. Barrett finished the game. Barrett played fine in the game. I don’t think that was much of a factor.
Q. The LSU loss, after the corrections (indiscernible)?
TRENT RICHARDSON: We had like a real statement. We came back into the next game, I think we played like Mississippi State or Ole’ Miss, one of them guys, and we just said that we just want to rerecon, and get back to where we was going headed to and make sure we stay in a straight line and make sure we don’t forget what we’re playing for.
And we knew in our head that we were going to get another chance, at least we felt like it. So we just rerecon ourselves and got back to where we was in that next ballgame and make sure we stayed on the right course and make sure that the team leaders on this team here, that we made sure that we was standing up and not getting down about the situation that we was in.
Q. Having been around you the last few weeks for the preparations (indiscernible), do you feel like you have something to prove?
TRENT RICHARDSON: Oh, yeah, most definitely. Because we didn’t win the first game. You’ve got to have a chip on your shoulder anytime you’re playing any type of sport. I mean, as a competitor, as a man, you feel you should win all the time. I don’t know a person that likes to lose.
You play to win. And that’s the bottom line. And that’s what we’re here for. And we’re not shining unless we’re winning. We’re not here for nothing but for the National Championship. We’re here for a trophy. That’s what we agreed on, and that’s what we worked hard for all year. And that’s what we’re here for.
Q. Compare this experience to two years ago. How has that experience affected you?
TRENT RICHARDSON: Two years ago, I was a freshman and another guy, really just a guy trying to find his way on the team and make a name for himself. This year I kind of had a name coming into the season.
So it was kind of different for me because I had to be one of those top leaders. And when I was here, you know, in Pasadena two years ago, I was just a young guy, and it was leaders on the team, and there was captains and stuff.
So all I had to do was follow. Now I’m trying to lead the team and make sure that we stay on top of what we have to do and be one of those guys that is going to put the team on their back or that’s going to spot the team or come into halftime, or if it’s tied up, we got 30 more minutes to play, we’ve got to see them in the game. To be one of those guys, it’s incredible. And it’s tough, playing in an environment like we play in every week, week in, week out, and playing in the SEC, it’s very tough.
So to be one of those guys, man, I just it’s an honor for me, and I really want to thank God and thank my teammates for letting me lead them on this far and let me be the team captain for them.
Q. The experience two years ago, how much did that help?
TRENT RICHARDSON: It helped a lot, most definitely, because I sat behind Mark Ingram, and he showed me a lot. And with those leaders we had on our team, Orlando, Javier and Mike Williams, all those guys that we had over there and Terrance, it was a big experience.
And it really helped us get prepared for this game because we’ve been here before. We know how to win it. We just gotta make sure we can stay on top of our game. So get prepared for this game. I think we did the same training, the same amount of stuff, the same amount of snaps that we did for that ’09 game to get ready for this game here.
Q. (Question off microphone)?
TRENT RICHARDSON: Oh, no, I don’t expect it to be no highscoring game just because the way we play football around here. I’m not trying to say that our offense can’t score. I’m not trying to say their offense can’t score. But with our two defenses and how they battle and how they be hitting, I don’t expect for no blowout game or no 45 points up on the scoreboard unless we go into like five overtimes, and I highly doubt that there.
So whatever it is, the games you’ve been watching, you’re not going to get that here. You’re going to get a slugfest, manup game, and see who is the best man on the field come Monday.
Q. How did it feel Sunday morning physically (indiscernible), overall your thoughts?
TRENT RICHARDSON: It really didn’t hit me Sunday morning, because I still had a lot of adrenalin going from the game. It hit really me like Monday. Sunday when I woke up, I felt pretty good. But Monday I was kind of sore, and I knew I had just been into a hardnosed game, a 60minute game, and you got a defense like LSU coming at you, trying to pound you all day, and you’re trying to do as much pounding, I usually try to do it’s tough playing in the SEC and the defense that we do play.
And so I had to make sure that I was prepared for next week, for the next two days, really, and make sure I was resting up my body and getting my body, getting all the knots and bruises out of my body. But, overall, I came back and played pretty strong the next week.
So it had to be a good experience, just being prepared for this situation here now that we’re in. I know they’re going to bring it to us, and I know how they’re going to try to come to me.
Q. In high school you were on a successful team (indiscernible)?
TRENT RICHARDSON: First of all, it’s just a big blessing, because in high school I never made it to the playoffs. I didn’t play a whole season until my senior year, really.
And I only really started playing football until my junior year because I was hurt my first two years of high school. And I was at a point where I didn’t know if football was really for me. And I had just had a child.
So it was really tough for me. And for being in the second National Championship game, it means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot for the people from Pensacola and people from Tuscaloosa, because it shows that I’m another faith just being another gift of hope, really. And I just want to tell the truth about Pensacola and Tuscaloosa, that, hey, if I can do it, anybody else can do it.