Everything Saban said in fifth press conference of spring
ByCharlie Potter 3 hours ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama head coach Nick Saban held a press conference Wednesday evening following the Crimson Tide's 10th practice of the spring. Below is everything Saban said in his fifth press conference of the spring and only one before Saturday's second scrimmage.
“To summarize the week, I thought the players were really good on Monday. We had to go inside because the field was a little too wet. Today, every now and then, as a coach you feel like people get the 'Poor mes.' If you know what the 'Poor mes' are, they're exactly what I said. 'Poor me, my leg hurts. Poor me, my shoulder hurts. Poor me, it's hot out here today. Poor me, I don't feel like practicing. To me, I'm not big on the Poor mes. I like people not to do what they feel like doing but to choose to do what they need to do to get better and that has been very, very good all spring. Today, it could have been better. I think practice went better as we went. We need to keep working on that. That's a signal to me of mental toughness, ability to sustain in difficult circumstances, which we're certainly going to have our share of in the competitive environments that we play in. That's one of the things that you try to develop in the offseason.
“This scrimmage, this week, will probably cover some other situations. I would hope that a lot of the young players who probably had a lot of anxiety last week relative to first time playing, first time being in the stadium, first time college scrimmage, those guys would probably make the most improvement. But last week I thought we really played well on offense. The first defense was OK but certainly some areas to improve in. But the depth of our team overall has got to improve. We need more people who can be responsible and accountable to do a job to a standard where we feel like they can play winning football. That's certainly going to be the goal that we continue to work on.
“We have spent time this week on other opponents. We started that this week, which we usually do this time of year. Things that we don't really see much from the offense and things that the offense sees that they don't really see from the defense. So that's something that's been very beneficial, I think situationally to a lot of players. That’s a really beneficial thing and it takes a lot of preparation but our coaches have done a really good job of that.”
On this weekend's coaching clinic
"We're really looking forward to the coaching clinic this weekend, starting Thursday night. It's always sort of an honor for us to be able to put on a really, really quality clinic that the high school coaches who do so much for us, do so much to promote our game, do so much to develop players, a lot of whom have played here and contributed to our success, to do something to give back to them. We have some really good speakers: Freddie Kitchens, Matt Patricia, Mark Dantonio, Jeff Brohm, Joe Judge, Kevin Elko. My only disappointment is that we have a rule that high school coaches cannot speak at our clinic. I think that's… we all need to keep in mind the professional advancement, that we all try to learn from each other and I think it's beneficial when some of the very successful high school coaches are given the opportunity to share some of their thoughts and ideas to help other coaches develop. But it is what it is. So we do the best we can with our coaches and people that come in and we feel can do a really good job of trying to help this group."
On running backs
I’d like to ask you about the running backs. Last year, you had a diverse group, particularly with Josh Jacobs -- different skills. And at least one year you had guy like Derrick Henry who was able to carry it 35-40 times a game. Is either of those the direction you’re going in with running backs? Or what kind of group do you have there?
“I really feel like Najee (Harris) and B-Rob (Brian Robinson) are both really good players. I think both of them have got a significant amount of experience in the past. I think they’re ready to take the next step in terms of making a really significant contribution. They both had really good springs. Past that, Jerome Ford is kind of the newcomer and has shown some flashes. We’ve got a couple other guys coming in in this freshman class. So, we have had a lot of diversity at running back, but most of the time, there has been a young player that contributes to that, almost always a freshman. Mark Ingram was a freshman when Glenn Coffee was here. Trent Richardson played some when he was a freshman and Mark was the player. And if you just go through the history of all of the guys -- I think Eddie Lacy was probably the only guy that didn’t play quite a bit when he was a freshman, and that’s because he was a late qualifier and got here late in the summer. So, I would expect that we get some help from that group from some young players, as well. But I’m really satisfied with those two guys. I would feel a little more comfortable if we had a few more guys that showed that they can play with the consistency and performance that can add even more depth at that position.”
On defensive line, inside linebackers
Since the scrimmage, what have you seen from the defensive and middle linebackers?
“We moved some guys around to try to give some people some opportunities that we thought played a little better. I think that’s helped us some. We got a lot of young players there, and that’s kind of what I was referring to that I think those guys have been a little more consistent this week in practice. It’s just part of their development to get a little more confidence in what they’re doing first scrimmage. Maybe next time they don’t have as much anxiety, they can stay a little more focused and try to do things the way that we had taught to do them rather than just trying to survive. So, I think we made some improvement in that area this week.”
On targeting areas to improve
Can you give us an idea of when you target an area that you want to improve -- say, like offensive play in the red zone. When does that start? Do you kind of start from scratch? And how much does it play a part in the spring?
“I think that the first thing you always do is we do quality control on yourself, aight. So, you self scout, and through these self-scout statistics, you sort of find out how efficient were we in an area. And then you go back and try to find what were the issues in that area. And then you go out and research. If you don’t have the answers, you go out and research to try to find the answers to what you can do to improve in those areas by meeting with people in some circumstances that have had more success or maybe have some new ideas. Or sort of philosophically figure out on your own that, ‘Hey, when we tried to do this, it wasn’t very successful.’ So, then you come up with these ideas and plans and you implement them in practice and see how they work. And then maybe we’ll revisit it again because we quality control in the spring after spring ball and sort of see if we made the progress that we want to make. And if not, we’ll go research it again and try to get even more ideas. But there’s some fundamental things that you have to do, and when you don’t do those things well, that sometimes contributes to a lack of success. So, sometimes it’s pretty obvious what we need to improve on.”
On Jared Mayden
What have you seen from Jared Mayden this spring?
“Jared has really done a nice job for us. He really showed up well in the scrimmage, played really well. Did a good job of tackling, played with more toughness in the game and he’s been pretty consistent. I think he has a pretty good understanding of what is expected of him. I’m very encouraged with his progress and very happy with his performance so far.”
On young wide receivers
You have all your starting wide receivers. But what have you seen from some of the younger guys there this spring and how they’ve developed? Tyrell Shavers, John Metchie, etc.
“I think all those guys -- I think Xavier Williams has made a lot of progress. I think that Metchie has shown flashes and doing things really, really well. I think Slade Bolden has made some plays, and Shavers is better. So, I feel much better about the depth at that position than in the past, and I think that’s a good thing. And it also helps on special teams because a lot of those guys are good special teams players.”
On youth changing spring approach
You talked about how young this team is right now. Knowing how young your roster is at the moment, does that change how you approach spring from a teaching standpoint?
“We’re trying to teach guys what to do, we’re trying to teach them how to do it and we’re trying to teach them why it’s important to do it,” Saban said. “But we’re going to have a lot more young guys come in that hopefully can make a contribution. I think of the 12 guys we’ve got left coming in, nine of them are defensive players, and some of those guys are going to add depth to the team, in the secondary, up front, maybe at linebacker. So, there’s a lot of opportunity there. We’ve got a tight end coming in, that’s an area where we need some help. Couple of running backs on offense where we need help. We’re going to get younger before we get older. And we’re going to do a good job of trying to teach those guys what we can during the summer.
“Look, I’m a whole-part-whole teacher, aight. And I think it’s like taking a bucket of whatever you want to call it -- I don’t want to call it what I call it -- and throw it up against the wall and see what sticks. Put what falls down in the bucket again and throw it up there again. And if you do it enough times, it all sticks. I know you think I’m crazy, but that’s how we’ve always done it. It seems like it works a little bit.”
On learning from scrimmages
In the scrimmage itself, how much more do you learn about your team as opposed to practice?
“I think you learn a lot about individual players’ ability to go play. I think good coaches are trying to reinforce players in practice after every play, so they’re telling them they did this well or you need to do it this way or you made a mental error, you’re getting corrected or you did a good job or whatever. So, you’re trying to reinforce guys on every play. Well, sometimes are kind of depending on that reinforcement all the time in practice, and in the game, there’s no coach out there.
“I used to coach like that when I was an assistant, and we’d have a scrimmage as the Cleveland Browns, and (Bill) Belichick would chew my butt out, man. He’d say, ‘Let the players play.’ I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never had my butt chewed out before for coaching, teaching.’ But I have to say the same things sometimes to our coaches now, aight, because there’s a time where you’ve just got to let the players play. Because in a game, they’ve got to know what to do, they’ve got to know how to do it, they can’t depend on somebody else to make a call for them, they can’t depend on somebody else to recognize for them. So, we actually do stuff in practice now and we do team ... I make the coaches get off the field, make the calls and let the players play. And when you get in the scrimmage then they’re more ready for the scrimmage because they’ve got to go out there and execute and make own calls and do things on their own. So, that’s the next step of guys being ready to contribute and play. It’s different to be able to do it in practice than it is to be able to do it in the game.”