Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“(I was) really concerned about this week. We got a lot of guys kind of beat up, a lot of guys had to miss practice. They had to really choose energy over their feelings in this game. I was really pleased with the way we came out and played, especially in the first half, especially on defense. We did a good job of controlling the ball on offense and time of possession was great. The defense did a good job of getting them off the field and did a much better job on third down. Our guys did a good job of implementing what was a pretty new scheme for us to play against this team and their offense. For the most part, we did a really good job. Turnovers were a big thing in the game. We were able to make some big plays, explosive plays on offense, but I thought their defense really played well, played hard. They were physical, they were tough. It was a grind out there for us to play against their good zone, so it was hard for us to make big plays, but I think we did a really good job and this was a good win for us.
“Obviously, probably the thing I am most disappointed in, was I thought we had too many penalties. Too many times we shot ourselves in the foot, we stopped ourselves. Taking away positive plays on a punt return or a 12-yard gain on offense and putting ourselves behind the sticks – that is something we definitely need to improve on.
“All and all, this was a good game for us. It’s great to play at home, and it’s great to win on your birthday. I was really happy about that present as much as any. I think the bye week is coming at a really good time for us. We got a lot guys that need to get healed up, and we have a lot of other guys that need to make some improvement so that when they are called on they are going to be able to go out there and play and be effective as players. So, that’s kind of where it’s at.”
On how Mac Jones recovered from a slow start:
“I think that Mac made some good throws, made some big plays. I also think the way they played, they played a lot of soft zone to try and take our deep routes away. There were probably times in the game where we tried to tell them this may be a checkdown game at times. You can’t force the deep throws. One could have been intercepted; they ruled that it hit the ground. This is a good defensive team. You can ask Mac, this probably wasn’t one of his best games, but he played well enough for us to win and scored enough points for us to do that. I’m not disappointed in him at all. Are there things that he could have done better? I think yes. Did he linger on any mistakes that he made? Not at all, which I think is a real positive sign.”
On the confidence the defense played with this game:
“We sold them on the fact that if you are going to play this game the way we played the game, you are going to have break on the ball, vice the ball and you are going to have to tackle well in space. So, I think for the most part, we did a really good job on that. We made them do it in practice – of course it’s not ever the same in practice relative to the guys they practice against. We told them to tackle high, to get more than one player there to clean it up, attack the ball and try and get turnovers. Players really responded well and did a good job of that.”
Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach
On tonight’s game:
“I thought we played hard. I thought we played sloppy and dumb at times. I think that Alabama is a team that has been put together for over a decade. They have a culture that is extremely hard-working and competitive that permeates their entire program. We’re a program that is trying to get there. The good news with us is that we’ve got some great young guys that will be around for a while. This is a great starting point for them. Some of them probably wouldn’t be starting now if it weren’t out of necessity. I think in the end, the reps and experience is going to pay off. It’s kind of like I told these guys. Everyone can work harder than they think they can, focus harder than they think they can. Alabama through their process, they’ve learned and discovered that. We’re just getting started here and need to discover some of those same things. I was proud of the way we competed; in the future this would not be the standard, but as far as battling that sort of thing, I was pleased with that portion of it. We certainly have miles to go.”
On the performance of the defense:
“I thought they did pretty good. Overall defensively, other than some big plays and explosives, I thought they played real well”
On trying to mark a guy like DeVonta Smith:
“There are a lot of things that impress me about him. One, as a receiver, he tracks the ball really well, and not all receivers do. There are a lot of receivers that are good at catching balls if they are right at them. He’s good at tracking balls, in other words, kind of center fielder when it comes off the bat and the guy runs and is standing right where the things going to land. He’s good at that, and he’s obviously an explosive guy and everybody knew that. The other thing I was impressed with is how competitive he is from one snap to the next. He’s a very good example to pretty much anybody on our team.”