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What Nick Saban said after Alabama win over Middle Tennessee

The University of Alabama football team walks on the field against Middle Tennessee at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Sep 2, 2023.

Nick Saban touched on a variety of topics after Alabama defeated Middle Tennessee in its season opener.

Here is everything the Alabama head coach said:


“I think the players kind of delivered. They had good energy and enthusiasm to start the game. So I was really happy with the way that we came out and played in this game. So they kind of answered the bell the way we wanted them to. There’s always some little bit of shotty areas that you obviously need to clean up, which we certainly have a few of those, and we’ll work on it. But I thought the atmosphere was great. The fans were great. And I really thought the players did a good job. We did a good job on third down. They do a lot of stuff on offense. I think the defensive players did a good job of adjusting, adapting, not giving up a lot of big plays. And offensively, we ran, had good balance and did a pretty good job of passing the ball, made some explosive plays, did a good job on third down. Pretty good. We’ve obviously got things that we need to work on, which we’ll pay attention to, but I like the attitude of the team. We got a couple guys banged up. I don’t know the extent of their injuries – Jaylen Key and Malachi Moore both. But we’ll see how that goes. They’ll get evaluated tomorrow and probably know more soon.”

Discussing Wide Receivers Ability To Create Seperation:

“Well, they did a good job of getting open. Look, no disrespect to these guys. They play hard. They’ve got a good team. They do a good of coaching. They present a lot of problems for you. But we’re gonna have to separate against a little different caliber of guy in the future, so that’s gonna be important that we keep working on that and understand that, and I think we’ll be fine. But I do think the receiver group has improved. I think there’s better depth. I think there’s more guys that can make plays. I think there’s more confidence. So I’m sort of pleased with the way that group has developed.”

Discussing Ja’Corey Brooks Sitting Out First Half:

“He was sitting out the first half for, I know you guys have a job to do and you know how much I love you and want to help you do your job and all that and give you depth charts. But I’m not gonna reveal to you what a guy did or didn’t to put himself in a position where he sat out the first half. But he sat out the first half.”

Discussing The Offensive Line Performance:

“They did a good job, a lot of stuff up front, a lot of plugging ‘backers, a lot of movements. So it makes it a little difficult to sometimes – I said before that they’re a little big little. They give you some bad plays. But I thought that overall, we did a good job. We did a really good job in protection. When we got sacked, it was the running back who didn’t block his guy. So I thought they did a good job, and I think that we’re gonna have to have that kind of balance. That’s the kind of balance we wanna have in the future. So just gotta keep on working on it because I’m sure we’re gonna play some really good front sevens down the road, as well.”

Discussing Team Physicality:

“I was pleased with that. That’s what we’ve asked them to do, and I think they competed well in the game. I think they played hard in the game. I think they were trying to be physical. They play with really good toughness. And their team plays hard, and their team plays with toughness, so I think we certainly matched that and I think that was something that was a real positive for us.”

Discussing Jalen Milroe Performance:

“I think Jalen did a good job. I think he’s had a good fall camp. I thought he played well in both scrimmages. I think he’s more confident, doing a good job in the passing game. His athleticism helps him. I mean, we score a touchdown on a fumbled snap, which wasn’t his fault. The center, the ball slipped out of his hand and rolled back. He picks it up and runs it for a touchdown. He’s a threat to pull the ball on the zone plays, which we scored on that. And I thought he threw the ball effectively. I thought he played well. There was one play in the game where they ran sonic field blitz, which we were supposed to check out of the play. We didn’t get it checked. So there’s always things like that you could do a little bit better, but I think that experience is basically an accumulation of things that you learn from the mistakes that you make. That’s what experience is. And I think as he continues to develop and gain experience, he’s gonna play better and better. But I thought he played well tonight.”

Discussing Tackling Against Middle Tennessee:

“We tackled decent. I think we had a couple missed tackles, and I thought that, especially, you saw the perimeter plays that they ran, whether they were jet sweeps, bubble passes, advantage throws, whatever, the whole game plan, which I kind of told the players it would be this way  that they would get the ball out quick. We wouldn’t have a lot of chances to get a whole bunch of sacks. The ball was gonna come out quick, we’re gonna have to break on the ball and we’re gonna have to tackle well in space. And I think that we did a pretty good job of that, and I think that’s why they didn’t have very many explosive plays.”

Discussing Limited Penalties:

“Well, that’s one of the goals: play penalty-free, whether it’s special teams…Don’t give the other team an advantage by giving away yards and field position and putting yourself in the hole with penalties, giving the other team first downs when you make undisciplined-type penalties. You’re always gonna have some penalties in the game, but the pre-snap, line of scrimmage, undisciplined type of penalties, I think, are the things you really wanna focus on eliminating, and playing with good technique will eliminate other penalties. One of the things I said to the players was, ‘If you really have confidence and you believe in yourself, do you have to jump offsides to win? Do you have to line up in the backfield to pass block? Do you have to hold a guy in coverage to be able to cover him? I don’t think anybody should think that they need to do any of those things. So let’s do it the right way.’ And I think they did a good job with that tonight.”

Discussing Jalen Milroe Future:

“So you’re asking me to speculate and answer a hypothetical question about some guys gonna perform in the future? I don’t really know. I mean, I love him. I think he’s doing well. I know he’s working hard to try to improve. He’s a good competitor. He’ll do everything he can to play his best. But I don’t have, this is a Coke bottle, it’s not a crystal ball. How do you think he’ll play? Do you have any idea? It’s hard to know. It’s what we all strive for, though. We want everybody to play well, and we’re gonna prepare him the best way we can. But that’s why you play the games.”

Discussing Usage Of Tight Ends:

“I thought the tight ends did OK. I think we have better tight ends on our team than we’ve had in the past. CJ (Dippre) gives us something we haven’t had, which is a good, strong, solid blocker at Y. Amari (Niblack) is a really good pass receiver. He made a really nice catch down the middle today. He’s improved his blocking. Danny (Lewis) is a good blocker and a good Y. Robbie Ouzts is kind of an H-back, old-fashioned fullback type of guy that can do certain things really well. So that group is, I think, much better than we’ve had in the last couple years. We’ve had to play an offensive tackle at tight end to be able to do some of the things that we’re doing now. So I’m pleased with the progress that group has made, and hopefully, that’ll help us in the future. It’s hard to run the ball on the perimeter when you don’t have guys that can block at tight end. We’ve got power at tackle, so hopefully, we can continue to improve on how effectively we can run the ball, as well, because of those two things, including the tight ends.”


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