The first seven minutes of Coach Saban’s press conference in the Superdome this morning. Video courtesy of Patrick Claybon of CBS42 in Birmingham.
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A summary of the video. Quotes are not exact due to sound quality in the video.
Question: How did Jordan Jefferson change Alabama’s preparation for the championship game?
Saban: His athletic ability, how he can beat you with his feet as well as being a good passer. Big arm. Good skill player outside. Like a couple of times in the first game, you get him all covered and he takes off running. His ability to run the option. Zone run plays for him add another dimension to their offense, which I think is very effective, very challenging for any defensive team. 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.
Question: How confident are you in Phillip Sims’ ability to fill in for A.J. McCarron if he is hurt.
Saban: We’ve been very confident in Phillip Sims all year long. It was a very close race between those two guys in the start of the year. He’s consistently improved throughout the course of the year. He gets all the reps in practice. Phillip is a very talented guy, has a good understanding of the offense. It certainly would be a challenging circumstance if he had the opportunity to go in this game, but one that I think he’s probably ready for.
Question: Because a lot of the players on this roster have been in a championship setting recently, how has it helped the guys this week in terms of not being overwhelmed?
Saban: Regardless of how many times you’ve been in a game like this, there is still going to be some anxiety that goes along with playing in a game like this. I do think maybe some of the older players that are the leaders on our team and 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…
Question: How would you describe the physical level of play in the first game?
Saban: Well, I think it was a great football game, a very physical football game on both sides of the ball. Probably the difference in these two teams than most teams is how both teams play on the line of scrimmage. Their offensive line, our defensive line, their defensive line, our offensive line, very physical. A lot of good hits, a lot of good tackling, a lot of aggressive play on both sides of the ball. We expect the same kind of game this time around.
Question: You’ve gone against Les now so much. What, if anything, stands out about the way he runs his program that you can see?
Saban: We have as much respect for LSU and their program, for 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. They play extremely well on the field. You can’t have the level of success they’ve had on a consistent basis without doing a fantastic job as a coach and a leader. I think Les has done that. He’s done a marvelous job.
Question: Have you built up any kind of a friendship or relationship beyond football with Les Miles?
Saban: From my perspective, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Les. I like him. We do have occasions where we visit at meetings, different things like that. I think he has a great perspective, and it’s important to him, how we all team up to try to make college football better for football players. I think we have a common denominator there. Certainly I have a lot of respect for him because of that and we try to work together to make things better in our league and in the NCAA.
Question: Eight years ago you had LSU here. How big an advantage was it to come in here, which clearly is not a neutral site? How do you think it’s going to be Monday night?
Saban: Our players needs to understand that any time you play at a neutral site or any time you play on the road, it’s very challenging. The number one thing our players need to do is focus on what they do on the field, every play throughout the game, for 60 minutes in the game. Try to finish the game a little bit better, finish drives. Do the things you need to do to be successful. We understand we play in some tough circumstances. That’s something you have to look to as a challenge. We know we’re going to have to overcome adversity in this game. The circumstance we play in here is just one of those adversities we’ll have to have the mental toughness to deal with.
Question: Did you feel eight years ago the crowd here helped you?
Saban: We approached 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. External factors weren’t going to contribute in the game. I think there’s emotion in the game. I don’t think you can play a 60 minute game on emotion.
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