Five quick hits from Nick Saban's Monday press conference:
1. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was extremely complimentary of undefeated Mississippi State Monday morning.
“This is without a doubt the best team we’ve played this season,” he said.
The Bulldogs are averaging 235.9 passing yards and 181 rushing yards per game, have one of the better defenses in the SEC, and lead the nation with a plus-16 turnover margin.
2. A.J. McCarron went 17-of-22 for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee and now leads the nation in pass efficiency.
Monday, Saban talked about his quarterback.
“He makes a lot of good choices and decisions,” he said. “AJ has been a really good leader for us and has affected the other players on the team. The last couple of weeks, I think we’ve really come together offensively in terms of consistency and balance.
“He’s been able to process information and get the ball where he’s supposed to for the most part pretty efficiently and effectively.”
3. Saban was also asked—and didn’t get riled up about—McCarron as a Heisman contender and other players up for national awards. Saban explained that the program is “all for” their guys getting recognized for their efforts as long as those external factors don’t go to their heads and distract them from the team’s ultimate goal.
Saban said, “Everybody knows what that recipe is for them” in terms of staying focused, and then referenced his mother’s carrot cake.
“I love that carrot cake, but if she changes the ingredients, the cake doesn’t taste the same,” he said. “Same thing with players. I think that’s important regardless of what external factors are out there. You need to focus on what you need to do to play well in the game.”
4. True freshmen Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon were honored as Players of the Week for their efforts against Tennessee—they combined for 291 yards and four touchdowns on 22 touches. Saban was asked how the youngsters have been able to fit into the system so quickly, and of course he praised the two, but also said that it’s easier to contribute as a young player at certain positions more so than others.
“If you’re an offensive lineman, you’ve got to know who to block on every play, every pass protection, and every mistake you make, somebody’s going to get blown up,” he said. “At running back, if you can carry the ball effectively and learn the five or six running plays you’ve got, you can do that and contribute. You can be a very good receiver and be effective in running certain pass routes.
“I think the two guys we have that are contributing offensively for us the most have become pretty complete players for us pretty quickly. That speaks to their maturity, preparation, how they practice, what they do every day.”
5. Mississippi State has the league’s No. 1 rusher in LaDarius Perkins, who’s been racking up 103.43 yards per game.
“They’ve got a really good scheme that they run the ball with and lots of multiples in terms of how they present it, how they try to confuse defensive players,” Saban said. “He’s very quick, very instinctive. He’s tough. Runs behind his pads and is hard to tackle.”
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