ALABAMA OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND PLAYER QUOTES
An Interview With: COACH LANE KIFFIN
COACH KIFFIN: First off, very honored to be here. It’s been a great week so far. The players have really practiced well. Meetings have gone well.
Had a great few practices of preparation before we got here. And it’s been a very exciting season. Had some ups and downs but to be able to be here, to be part of the first playoff, it’s something very special.
But as Coach Saban talks about every day, it’s not about that, it’s about the process and it’s about today. So we’ll have a great practice today, be ready to play a very well‑coached team with a bunch of great players and a defense that has really played well all year long and really obviously in their last game have played about perfect.
Q. Can you just talk about the development of Blake, when you got there, what you were working with and the process?
COACH KIFFIN: I think the question is about Blake and his development and what we did with him. I don’t really believe it’s anything we did with him really. I think Blake has had a great story so far this year and it’s been because of the way he’s played and worked. From the first day we got here there were a lot of questions about Blake, how he would perform, whether he was even a quarterback.
Brought in a transfer that the assumption was by a lot of people that the transfer, Jake, would be the starting quarterback.
And never once did Blake bring that up. Never once did he question that. All he did was go to work. There were times when he was getting less reps than Jake was which is very difficult for a quarterback to accept after having been here for four years, going on his fifth year.
All Blake did was respond by practicing, preparing, like the starting quarterback and worrying about what he could control. And really I think we probably did a poorer job at times early from a coaching standpoint of calling the game best for him.
And I think you can see the progression of the offense and his play has been about us adjusting to him and tinkering our system so it would fit him best. And he’s played as well as anybody in the country down the stretch here.
Q. What about your coaching style allowed for the transformation of (indiscernible) and Sims this year, what about your philosophy around those guys, to mature as quickly as they did?
COACH KIFFIN: I don’t know that it’s anything to do with my philosophy. I think in both situations, both quarterbacks had been at the program for a long time. Had not experienced the success that they had hoped for. And I think it really was just an opportunity that both guys ran with.
I do believe our system is very quarterback‑friendly. It is a system that does not take a long time to learn. And so guys can in the first year of it perform well, or if they’re young players that you bring in can play really well.
So I just think that both stories are very good stories of two kids that really had had a rocky career up to that point and just came in and performed really well.
Q. You say you did a poor job calling plays early ‑‑
COACH KIFFIN: Not necessarily a poor job but not calling the game best for Blake because we didn’t have any background with him. It’s not like he got preseason games to go play.
So as the season has gone along and we’ve been able to see not just what does Blake do extremely well physically but how does he handle the game, what parts of the system does he perform best in, and then continuing to do those things not necessarily do things that this is what we do in our system but Blake doesn’t necessarily do those best.
So it really was just fitting it to him and getting the system and especially the no‑huddle aspects of it, which was something that was fairly new for myself, what we’re doing now is something that we had never done anywhere we’d been on a complete game basis.
Obviously at times there had been no‑huddle that we had run with different quarterbacks at different places but nothing like we’re doing now. And it’s just been interesting to see and it’s been interesting for myself as a coach to grow and do something different than what we had done to fit the system to our players.
Q. What did you learn from just the experience and the experience at Southern Cal that have made you a better coach today?
COACH KIFFIN: Well, the question is about what have you learned from this experience. I mean, there’s a list that would go on forever about it. For Coach Saban to afford me this opportunity to come here for myself and to be able to be the offensive coordinator is one thing but to be able to sit every day just like our staff meeting this morning we’ve already had and to be able to learn from somebody like him and his process, shoot, I would have done it for free. I would have paid him for it, like most people would.
So it’s been a great experience for myself to see here’s what probably is the best system in college football right now as far as performing year in, year out and how he does that and be able to learn that, and what you’ve already learned from a different system in our first time at USC under Pete Carroll, which had a great run there, and how different the opportunity to be able to experience both of those, I don’t know how you could ask for a better opportunity and to have a better opportunity that he gave me last January.
Q. Last year Coach talked about is this what we want college football to be. Games like Auburn, up and down the field. Has he had a hard time adjusting to the offense and defense at times?
COACH KIFFIN: I think once again, as you look at this, and you look at Coach Saban and one of the many reasons why he is so successful and the best coach in college football is he’s not stubborn. He’s not just we’re going to do this because we do this. He’s always researching, always looking at everything within the program and trying to find is there a better way to do it.
And I think this is maybe as good an example as you can have. I get a lot of credit for the up‑tempo offense and what we’ve done with Blake and changing from what we did before. But the reality of the story this up‑tempo offense and going faster and having the fast plays is all Coach Saban. This was him from the first day I got here, almost every day talking about we need to play faster, we need to be more explosive.
We need to run more plays. We need to give defenses more problems. And so really it was what has happened this year with this offense and the numbers and Blake and everything, really are a credit to Coach Saban and what from the first day what he saw going on in college football and said, well, if it’s working so well and it gives people so many problems why aren’t we doing it? That’s where we are today.
Q. Do you think he likes it better today than a year or two years ago, people are more accepting of it?
COACH KIFFIN: I don’t want to speak for him. You’ll have to ask him. I am sure he likes 12 to 9 or 9 to 6 a little bit better, but that’s just being a defensive background. But once again, it is what it is. And it’s the direction that college football is headed. So instead of fighting that, why not join it and really that’s a big reason why we’re sitting here today.
Q. Can you talk about your relationship with Nick on the sidelines. If you were a fan sometimes, it’s very entertaining on the sidelines, people reviewing the plays and things like that (indiscernible)?
COACH KIFFIN: Yeah, Coach Saban, during the game and before the game, his organization and detail, I mean it literally, you talk about a chess match. There’s no emotion going into any decision that he makes.
People will say he’s so calm he’s not showing emotion. I’m sure that’s on purpose, because he has an exact plan for every situation that will come up. I mean, it may be if this game goes to overtime at 7:00 that morning it’s going to be discussed if it goes to overtime which end are we going to be at because where the student section is. What’s the wind five minutes before kickoff?
So during the game he’s the same way. Everything is calculated. It may be third down. He’s going to tell me on third down, hey, if it goes to fourth and one or two or three we’ll go for it. If it goes to fourth and four we’re going to punt.
He’s always thinking ahead of the game. I had heard from coaches that had been with him how unbelievable he was as far as managing the game and his preparation for it. And they were right. I mean, it’s a big reason why he’s won so many games. Not just the process of the offseason, the week, preparing the players, but the game day management.
And it happened in the Iron Bowl. There’s a fourth down right there that we go for when the game’s really not going our direction and we make that really starts to turn the game the other way. If he doesn’t make that decision and punts we may not be sitting here today.
Q. Talk about how he’s rubbed off on you. Do you feel like you’ve rubbed off on him?
COACH KIFFIN: No. I’m sure I haven’t rubbed off on him. And he shouldn’t. Here’s a coach that got fired, unemployed, he brings in as one of the best runs in the history of college football. So I’m just a GA sitting there trying to learn every day, no, literally taking notes from him and how he runs it and what an unbelievable opportunity to have after the great run at USC in those years being there with Pete Carroll and now to be able to be with him, it will be a good book some day.
Q. How satisfying is this for you personally? Sometimes there’s missteps and eventually find themselves right out of coaching. You fell into a very good situation. How satisfying has it been that you made a good step after USC?
COACH KIFFIN: Once again, that goes back to being grateful to Coach Saban. The phone wasn’t ringing a lot. That’s the reality. Regardless of we all see ourselves in a different view a lot of times than others. I thought, well, okay probably not going to get a head coaching job but it will be easy to get an offensive coordinator jobs because of what we’ve done before and places we’ve been.
And like I said, the phone wasn’t ringing. And he called. And he took a chance. I know he thought a lot about it. Because it wasn’t going to be the popular, necessarily the media hire, as he’s referred to before.
But he believed in what he thought and what the interview was and the times we had discussions before. We had met the year before, I guess two summers ago, after our bad year at SC, had came out here to meet with him at his house. Spent three, four hours with him. Just a lot of questioning for him about handling situations and different questions that I had for him.
And I think that time and that discussing things with him probably made him more comfortable with the hire as well. Obviously it wasn’t done for that reason at that point. But as far as being gratifying and proving any of that, it’s not about that. It really is just about getting back to coaching and it’s been really fun.
It has been really fun especially for the games. It’s been a long time since I just had coached offense. Every place we’ve been, as the head coach for those years, three different places had called the offense.
So during the game, you’re trying to call the offense, you’re trying to manage the game, you’re trying to watch defense, special teams make adjustments and subs, that’s a lot going on. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily that fun.
Where now we’re just focused on the offense, just focused on the players and to see their development and see them play the way that they have this year and the excitement they’ve had during the games, that’s been very satisfying.
Q. Head coaching job in the future?
COACH KIFFIN: I’m not worried about that right now. I’m worried about today. Like Coach talks about the process. The process is practicing really well today and being ready for these meetings when we get out of here coming up and making adjustments from mistakes we made yesterday in practice.
Q. How would you characterize your relationship with him? Is it like father/son, like older brother/younger brother or crazy uncle/immature nephew?
COACH KIFFIN: You’re really trying to get me to make SportsCenter today. That’s the third question you’ve set me up with. I just looked at it as head coach and assistant coach. I don’t look at it as relative or anything like that.
And he’s constantly coaching his coaches. No different than me. Like all the coaches. He had things this morning before we even started our 7:30 staff meeting that he had written down about the offense or about me that we went over this morning.
So he’s always ‑‑ he says it ‑‑ one of the great things he does, if he has an issue with something he’s not going to sit around and talk about it with other people. He said, I’m going to tell you exactly what it is and then we’re going to move forward. And that’s it.
And so once you understand that, he explains it to you, you understand that he’s always just trying to help you.
Q. What do you see from Ohio State defensively specifically Bosa up front, how do you anticipate managing that and your guys’ ability to run the ball in terms of the running game?
COACH KIFFIN: I haven’t really seen that film with a bunch of long runs like maybe you have. But I think first off Bosa is an issue. Very long, strong player, relentless. Effort player. So we have to know where he is. They do a really good job of moving him around. I think that’s missed. People talk about his numbers and what a good player he is. He’s a great player but they do a great job of moving him so it’s difficult.
He’s inside. He’s right. He’s left. He’s off the ball. He’s on the ball. So I feel like what they’ve done with him on defense is kind of what people do on offensive guys, skilled guy. They move him around, make it hard to find and they’ve done a great job with that. I think they play very physical.
I think the two inside players, the two defensive tackles, are issues because they play so hard and they get off your centers and guards. And their two inside linebackers are very physical and their field linebacker can really run. And they leave him in there against three wides a lot and because they have the confidence that he can cover.
So this is a very, very good defense. One that really if you look out, if you look all year, outside of Michigan State, which a lot of those yards are at the end of the game, people aren’t really moving the ball against these guys very much at all.
Q. How about their talent as compared against some of the talent you’ve seen in the SEC?
COACH KIFFIN: Their talent is as good as anybody we’ve played. They’re very talented. Very long. Very strong players. You can tell that they were built to play physical defense and that’s what they do. And they can run outside and cover.
Q. A couple of times in the Iron Bowl, the SEC championship game, cameras got you throwing up your arms for a touchdown on plays. One time, before the ball was snapped or the ball was played, what did you see there that made you ‑‑
COACH KIFFIN: I do that 30 games a time. They only show it when it works. A lot of times I just ‑‑ I’m not ‑‑ I don’t even know I’m doing it really. It’s just in my head that they’re in this coverage and so there’s an excitement that ‑‑ because you’re calling plays to get a defense.
If we get this defense, we’re going to score. As long as we execute it and make the throw. And so there’s times that you can tell what they’re in so that you know okay this is going to work.
The Iron Bowl, hey, we called the same play three or four plays before, looking for (indiscernible) to Cooper where he’s going to be on the safety on the corner post.
And we didn’t have it, throws the ball to DeAndrew to the left because there wasn’t coverage. We called it again, get the coverage, you could see they’re in it. If we execute it, like the players did, it’s going to be a touchdown. I don’t even know when I started doing that.
Q. You and Urban Meyer had a contentious relationship when you were at Tennessee. Have you had any interaction with him since you got to Alabama at all? When is the last time you talk? What’s your relationship like now?
COACH KIFFIN: Yeah, Coach Meyer and myself communicated a few times over texts, phone call. I don’t remember the timing of it. And it was, hey, all this kind of crap from before let’s move on.
I obviously have great respect for what he’s done everywhere he’s been and how fast he’s gotten this program up to being the top four team in the country. So I don’t remember the exact last time I’ve communicated with him.
But obviously great respect for him and what he’s done. And that was just one of my many mistakes.
Q. Your mom had a quote about this 5.0 skit that came out. I don’t think you’ve talked about it yet. She said you liked it and shared it. When did you see it and what did you think when that skit came out? It went viral pretty fast.
COACH KIFFIN: We used to have a rule we didn’t let my mom talk to the media, like Coach Saban doesn’t let us talk to the media.
I don’t know what she said. But I did think the skit was funny. Somebody sent it to me. I thought it was pretty ‑‑ I thought it was pretty funny, entertaining. She didn’t like the language very much in it, I know that.
Q. Is it important to still be true to yourself even though you say that the coach rubs off on you a lot, is it still important to be who you are?
COACH KIFFIN: I still think you have to be who you are, but it isn’t like you don’t do adjustments and changes. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about, okay, I did this, this is how Coach does it, this is a better way to do it.
And you’re just really growing every day around him, not as a head coach, just as a coach. But at the same time, too, I’m not Nick Saban. So there’s going to be things that you’re not going to change because then you’re just trying to be something that you’re not. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not adjusting.
Q. You mentioned that Nick doesn’t hesitate telling you what he thinks. Does he grade you like on Monday, does he meet with all the coaches this is what I liked, what I didn’t like?
COACH KIFFIN: Yeah, he does. I mean, it’s not the way you’re making it sound exactly. But it’s not Monday. It’s Sunday. And when we watch the film, he watches the defense, the defense and offense and special teams, prior to watching that, he’s already watched it that night after the game.
And he already has his notes of his thoughts of things that we did well, situations that came up. Hey, we could have done this better or let’s discuss this because this is a situation that we need to figure out if it happens again what are we going to do.
And so that’s one of the great things about him, like I said earlier, he’s going to tell you exactly what he thinks, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, and so you can learn from that and move on, which is a lot better than having a head coach that I don’t know what he thinks and he’s holding it in.
So I think it’s a great quality and I think it’s very helpful.
Q. Did you work on Christmas Eve?
COACH KIFFIN: Did we work on Christmas Eve? We did not work on Christmas Eve, yes.
Q. How hard was it to be gagged as an assistant coach here where you’re not talking to the media, or is that something you enjoy?
COACH KIFFIN: No, I think it’s really good for assistant coaches, because it’s just no extra time. I mean, I see ‑‑ I know why Coach does it. I think when I was with ‑‑ I was quality control coach but with Coach Coughlin, I think he had the same thing with the assistant coaches. At Jacksonville. It makes sense instead of doing this you’re just in working.
So it’s not hard at all. And it’s refreshing, too, you leave the practice field, you go right to work to watch the film and not have to think about, okay, well, here’s the questions that are going to come up and the things that are out there and stuff. So you really kind of lose track with what’s out there because you’re totally focused on football and the offense which has been good.
Q. Yesterday I asked him about this yesterday. Asked him if it was easier now, maybe more difficult for him. He said to become a head coach than it is for an offensive coordinator now to become a head coach, the way football has changed. What do you think?
COACH KIFFIN: I don’t think that’s fair at all to say offensive coaches should be head coaches and defensive coaches shouldn’t, or we’re going to hire offensive guys because it sells tickets.
I don’t think that’s fair at all. And I think Kirby’s an example of this. Every job that’s open in America should be flying to go see Kirby Smart.
How can you have a better resumé than what Kirby Smart has put on tape? It’s unbelievable year in, year out how the defense performed. Lose first round picks and have to replace guys, play in a conference that’s always adjusting and growing and has great offensive coaches in it, and he’s learned from Coach Saban, how do you not hire Kirby Smart because he’s not an offensive coach?
Well, he’s smart enough to know he’s going to go hire an offensive coach. He ain’t going to call the offensive plays. He’s going to go play great defense and probably go hire a spread, explosive offensive guy because that’s the direction where college football has gone.
I think it’s very unfair for people to say we’re not going to hire a defensive head coach.
ALABAMA OFFENSE PLAYERS QUOTES
DECEMBER 29, 2014
OL ARIE KOUANDIJO
(on taking on a talented Ohio State defensive front) “I look forward to it. We haven’t played in a very long time. I haven’t played in a long time, personally. I just look forward to it.”
(on facing Ohio State DE Joey Bosa) “I see opportunity and I see a chance for our offensive line to see where we are. It’s a great experience being able to play against a guy like that. Like I said, I look forward to it.”
(on whether it is hard not to get caught up in the hype of a game of this prestige) “It’s not too hard not to get caught up in the hype. It happens a lot playing for Alabama. One of the reasons I came to Alabama is to play for one of the best coaches in the country. I’m used to it. I’m used to high-stake games and stuff like that. We’ve done it before.”
(on what it means to take on the elite team of the Big Ten) “I’m not really thinking about things like that right now. I’m thinking about how to get better and how to make sure I can do my part to help us accomplish our goal.”
(on what he sees in Ohio State’s defense) “Every team has their positives and their negatives. I try to focus on my game and how we are playing.”
RB T.J. YELDON
(on the condition of his injured ankle) “It feels good. I’ve been rehabbing it a bit. I just got back to practice last week and I’m still getting used to it, and seeing how it feels when I’m running full speed on it.”
(on Ohio State’s defense) “They’re a very good defense. They use their technique very well and just play really good defense.”
(on the biggest challenge for the team) “Our biggest challenge is not turning the ball over, just focusing on what we do and not change the game plan for what they do. We need to just keep doing what we’ve been doing all year.”
(on if Ohio State reminds him of anybody Alabama has played this year) “They have a good d-line, like Florida. Their d-line is as good as theirs. They also have good linebackers.”
(on if Alabama has an advantage being used to playing on the national stage) “We’re kind of used to being on the big stage. We aren’t really worried about the limelight or whatever. We’ve been here before. This is what we do. This is Alabama. We’re here for a business trip, not the party or whatever. We’re pretty focused and ready to play.”
(on the importance of getting off to a good start offensively against Ohio State) “It’s very important to get the o-line going and then us going. That would take a lot of pressure off of Blake [Sims] and the wide receivers. If we can get that going, that will open up the holes for Blake and the wide receivers to make big plays.”
(on if Alabama has worked on any new wrinkles for the playoffs) “A little bit. Like I said, we don’t want to get away from what we’ve been doing all year and what got us here. We’ve got a little…just not a lot.”
(on what he feels in his ankle right now) “It hasn’t really bothered me since I’ve been practicing. I took some time off from practicing, but it feels better now. I’m almost 100 percent with this ankle. I’ll be ready for the game.”
(on how Lane Kiffen has helped the offense) “He knows what he’s doing. He’s had players like us at USC and when he was at Oakland. He just knows the right plays to call and can put Blake in the right situation where he can pass it out to Coop [Amari Cooper] or audible to a run. It’s been good.”
(on if Kiffen has made it a more fun, laid back atmosphere) “Yes, he has. Coach Saban gets on him sometimes and gets on us to not be so laid back and focus. But he is a pretty laid back guy.”
(on Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa) “He’s a very good guy. He’s big and he’s still young. I really hadn’t heard of him until Amari [Cooper] told me about him. He was at the award [shows] and was telling me how big he was, and how he filled out his whole suit. I watched film on him. He’s good. He does the right technique all the time. We have to focus on him and the whole d-line to get us going.”
(on watching Blake Sims develop as Alabama’s quarterback) “It’s been fantastic watching Blake. Everybody criticized him and how he wasn’t going to be able to start or be a good quarterback. He took that as motivation to keep him going and he turned out to be one of the leaders on the team. He always gets us going and gets the offense going. He does a great job doing that.”
(on if he feels challenged facing an Ohio State defense with two All-American defensive linemen) “It is. We have to get the run game going to open up other parts of the offense. It’s very important to get that going…get the offensive line going and get both me and Derrick [Henry] going. It’ll be a challenge for us, but I think we can do it.”
(on if there is an emphasis to treat this as a regular game week) “It’s a regular week. It’s no difference to us being here than practicing in our indoor facility back in Tuscaloosa. We keep the same intensity, we have to remain focused and remember what we’re here for – which is to win the game and not to party or whatever.”
WR AMARI COOPER
(on if his performance can have an effect on Alabama’s future recruiting) “Hopefully. I hope to have guys who can play receiver want to come to Alabama based on the season I’ve had.”
(on if Julio Jones’ college career had an impact on his decision to attend Alabama) “Yes. Julio was a great player. I want to be a great player too. Since he was successful here, [I thought] I could be successful here, too.”
(on when he got a sense that this could be a special season for him) “Probably during the spring. It was just different when Coach Kiffen got here. He was moving everybody around and trying new things. I knew the offense would be more open.”
(on what point of the season he felt Blake Sims took control of the quarterback position) “I would say every week, it’s been more and more. He’s been gaining more confidence every week. If there was one point, I would say after the Florida game.”
(on Sims’ progression from the spring to the Florida game) “When Coach Kiffen got here in the spring, he made the offense a little more player friendly and a little more easy to understand from the quarterback position. Blake seemed a lot more comfortable in the spring with Coach Kiffen. I would say, up until the Florida game, it was just a little bit more every week.”
(on when his role as an all-over-the-field receiver progressed) “I was put in a lot of different spots in the spring, but as the games started going on, I started getting moved around a little more.”
(on Coach Kiffen’s personality as opposed to others on past and present staffs) “He’s definitely an outgoing guy. He likes to make jokes. He’s friendly. He’s just a cool guy to be around.”
(on if he was surprised Coach Kiffen got away with joking with Coach Saban during the pre-playoff meetings) “His joke was kind of funny. I’m not sure if he got away with it or not.”
(on what Arkansas was able to do to slow down Alabama’s passing game) “I’m really not sure. The weather was pretty bad. I don’t know if we came out to play like we should have and they played pretty good on defense.”
(on the opening play against Tennessee and the attention put on Coach Kiffen) “We knew we were going to run that play first. We always have a first 10 [scripted plays]. I didn’t know it was going to be such a big play. I thought I could get a first down or something like that, but it was just a perfect play call.”
OL AUSTIN SHEPARD
(on his thoughts on the Ohio State defensive line) “They are one of the best defensive lines we’ve played this season. They are well-rounded up front and every position is really good. It’s going to be a challenge, but we are excited for it.”
(on Ohio State’s defensive end Joey Bosa) “Great player. One of the best defensive linemen I’ve watched on film. He’s still young, so he definitely has room to grow. Sky’s the limit for him. I’m excited to play. It’s a huge challenge for me and I love challenges, so I am excited.”
(on what Ohio State should expect in the Superdome come game day) “It’s just really loud. The biggest part of dealing with the noise is you’ve got to be on the cadence. You just have to get used to it and work on it.”
(on playing in this year’s version of the Sugar Bowl compared to last year’s) “It’s pretty much win and go on, or lose and go home. It’s an important game and we want to get to where our ultimate goal is, so we have to win.”
(on the Alabama Offensive Line gelling this season with the newcomers) “We kind of gelled because we had to get Cam [Robinson] on board. He wasn’t very sure of himself coming from high school to the SEC. We just had to talk with him every week and get him used to playing. I think it’s worked out well.”
(on this year’s offense under Lane Kiffin compared to the last few years) “It’s a little different. We run a little more outside zone and stuff like that. It’s pretty similar with a few changes. Coach Kiffin brings in a few new plays every week and we just have to adapt to it.”
(on the style of offense under Lane Kiffin and his attitude toward it) “I think it helps with the defense. The defense has to play more basic looks. They cannot get into all of those exotic pressures. If you run it right, you wear down the defense and they just get tired throughout the game. I really like it a lot.”
(on the job freshman Cam Robinson has done this year and some of the things Shepard has helped him with) “I think he’s done a great job. I’m really impressed for being a freshman and coming in here and handling people the way he has. In the beginning of the season, I just had to help the first couple of games as he was pretty nervous playing in front of all those people on national televised games. Kind of had to tell him to ‘do your thing and pretend no one was there.’ Just trying to help him study film and what to look for.”
QB BLAKE SIMS
(on Game 1 of the season and his comfort level) “The first game, I was just trying to get the feel of the first college game. I tried to make some plays to show that Coach Saban made the right decision. I wanted to let them know I could be a great leader for this team. Each game, I tried to get better each week and pick Coach Saban’s mind, and see what he sees.”
(on his reaction to Kiffin hiring) “I was very happy hearing the background from him and knowing what kind of a coach he is. I was recruited by him, so I knew some things about him that some people didn’t. I knew he was going to come to the University of Alabama and help us out.”
(on what he likes about Kiffin) “His personality. He interacts with his players very well and he is a hard worker. I know a lot of people doubt him at certain places he has been, but I knew he would come in here and do the right thing. He is the right coach to be chosen. Maybe if we had another coach, we probably would have done the same thing, but coach Kiffin was the right guy to be chosen. We are glad to have him and we have a good relationship with him.”
(on Kiffin’s style) “He gets on me hard when I ‘m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. If I’m not being the better player I can be – he is on me every time.”
(on replacing AJ McCarron) “It wasn’t tough at all. I tried to come into the season with a new year…start with a new team. I just pretty much tried to learn from what AJ taught me and what AJ did, and what I saw from AJ. The way he studied the plays; the way he was humble; the way he kept his composure at all times; the way he was a game manager. He did a great job of that and I tried to bring that into this year.”
(on Amari Cooper) “Any quarterback in the nation would love to him. He’s at Bama. I’m glad to have him.”
(on what Nick Saban told him after being named MVP of the SEC Championship Game) “I would say that Coach Saban lets me know that I still have more work to do. The MVP was nice and I got kind of emotional after that, but I realize that I’m still trying to chase a dream and I want to help my team win a national championship.”
(on if he’s given much thought to potentially playing at the next level) “It’s a possibility, but I have to focus on my team. I have a lot of guys that have dreams to have a ring when it comes to February. I want to do that for them. What better way to go to the NFL than with a ring on your finger. You can brag about that.”