Nick Saban post-game press conference transcript
Released by University of Alabama Athletic Communications:
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban's opening statement following the win over Western Kentucky:
"This game ended up being a little bit like I expected it to be, and probably different from what a lot of people here expected it to be. Western Kentucky, Coach Taggert, and his staff do a really good job and use a lot of pressure with their defense and a lot of stunts. They try to give you bad plays, which we had far too many negative plays on offense that really hurt us. They're stubborn about running the ball, doing a lot of different formations, being a little different in terms of having two tight ends and one wide receiver on third downs. They create some issues that are a little different for us, and they do a really good job with a control passing game, which they did today.
"We didn't give up big plays, which is really important and makes it hard to score. I was pleased with being able to get a shutout. I think the turnovers were huge in that. I don't know what we had, three fumbles and an interception, which is usually something that they don't do.
"It was a great atmosphere out there today. I was really pleased with the way our fans showed up and supported our team.
"There are certainly a lot of things that we need to work on and improve on rolling into SEC play. Arkansas is a very good team. Lots of people picked them to be the best team in our division, so this is going to be a challenging game for us.
"I thought Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones and the receivers made some big plays today. I thought AJ (McCarron) made some big plays today. We didn't do a very good job in pass protection having six sacks. Three or four of those were just that guys got beat. A couple of them were pressures that we didn't pick up properly, so that's something we definitely need to get better on. We need to be a better third down team, probably. We ran the ball ok, but probably not as good as we're going to need to, so there is a lot of things for us to work on. I thought Special Teams was probably a plus for us today and that's going to be an important area for us to continue to improve.
On injured players:
"I really think that we fully expected Jesse (Williams) and Dee Milliner to be able to play today. We weren't trying to hide anything. Dee actually strained a hip flexor Wednesday in practice or something and actually practiced some on Thursday. We went out and pre-gamed today and didn't feel like he was 100 percent. Could he have played? He said he could play if we needed him to play, and I just didn't want to take a chance setting him back. I thought it was good that John Fulton got a chance to play and get some experience, and I thought John did a good job for us. Jesse practiced Thursday and practiced Wednesday. I thought he was going to be able to play. His concussion scores are normal. We never had an issue with them. He woke up today and had a bad headache. He said could play if he needed to. The doctor said if you don't need him, don't play him so we didn't play him. Hopefully that will give him time to get over that. Brent Calloway did get a shoulder today, I don't know the extent of it and if he'll be out. Jalston Folwer did injure his knee. We don't know the extent of that. They'll do an MRI in the morning and we'll let you know when that happens down the road."
On Western Kentucky's success on defense, particularly the six sacks:
"No, I think all the things that they did were things that they have done in the past. Like I said, at least three of the sacks somebody got beat on the edge. Couple other times, we probably held the ball - the last one we held the ball, no one was really open. We just need to do a better job all the way around, in pass protection, in our ability to throw the ball with consistency, the balance and identity that we create on offense, in terms of what we do, I think is real important and they played us like I thought they would. Run the ball, shrink the game, complete a lot of short passes, and pressure like crazy on defense to try to give you negative plays and every time they gave us a negative play we didn't overcome it very well. When we executed properly, I thought we did a pretty good job, put some good drives together and made some big plays, but that is something that we definitely need to get corrected."
On AJ McCarron spreading the ball around to different receivers:
"I think you don't look all over the field - you have plays called, he's got reads based on the coverage. We were fortunate to hit a couple of big plays today and he threw it to the right guy, and read the coverage correctly and the receivers did a good job of getting in the right place and getting open. We need to do a better job in the passing game, AJ [McCarron] is a guy that is very capable of making a lot of good plays, a lot of good throws, we had a couple of drops today, not perfect passes, but passes that should be caught. We just need to get in sync in terms of what we are doing in the passing game."