Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“I am really proud of our team, really proud of our players and our coaches. I think everybody really stepped up and did a really, really good job today. I think the energy was good. The offense made a lot of explosive plays out there. Defense really played well. Just a great team win. I can’t really explain it. I mean this is an unusual circumstance for me to be in, to be watching from a far. To see our team play from a far, win the game. They were excited after the game. They were very happy that they could go out there and do a great job in this game, playing at home.
“Last home game for a lot of the seniors. I am sure the players wanted to do a good job for them. I am really happy for our seniors and the great contribution that they have made in their career here. It is great for them to win the last game in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“I think the coaching staff did a marvelous job today. They played the situation, we had a good plan. They stayed with the plan, they executed the plan. Sark did a nice job of managing things.
“I sat here and felt a little helpless, but I could see things and yell at things, listen to Mrs. Terry cheer downstairs, it is a little different. It still feels good to win.
“I am happy for our fans who support us. I know this is a big game for the people who support us. It is just a great win for us. I am sure there are a lot of things we can learn from this game, lessons that we will learn from and grow from and get better. That is something that we always want to focus on this time of the year, that your team continues to improve and get better, each game you play, there is a little more on the line, so it is really important that you can execute and play with consistency. That is something that we will have to strive for in these next games that we have coming up here.”
On Coach Sarkisian’s in-game decisions:
“I didn’t think there was a lot. I didn’t think there was a lot of those real tough situations that came up. A couple of times we made it on third down, but we could have gone for it on fourth down. Those decisions didn’t really come up. I thought he was well prepared for what he needed to do, and I think he did a really good job.”
On how the pass rush has grown and developed:
“I think that our entire defense has kind of improved and gelled together as a unit. All 11 guys are playing better. I think we play a little better in the back end. I think we got a little better pass rush. I think we are using more players now, which I think enhances everybody’s opportunities to have a role and be able to go out there and contribute. We made a couple mistakes in the secondary that could have been costly. The guy drops the ball when he is 20 yards behind everybody in the second quarter, which is a bust on defense. There was a couple third downs that we needed to get off the field on, and we didn’t because of a couple mental errors. Auburn does a really, really good job offensively. They use a lot of formations, a lot of motions, you have to be on your toes in terms of how you adjust. For the most part we did a really good job, but we made a couple errors that helped them make some plays, especially on third down.”
Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn
“First of all, congratulations to Alabama. Bottom line, they were the better team tonight. You look at the first quarter, and we came out flat. You can’t come out flat against a team like that on the road. In the first half, we really didn’t do anything in the first three phases to create any kind of momentum, but we did have an opportunity for the touchdown that we dropped. At halftime we just said, ‘Let’s come in and get off to a good start.’
“If you look at the whole deal, I think the explosive plays is what stands out to me when they got inside our 40-yard line. When we got inside of their 40-yard line, we kicked field goals. We got sacked and had a long field goal on one.
“I told our guys I am proud of their fight. They kept fighting. They handled themselves with character in a very tough spot, and for that I am proud of our team.
“Give Alabama credit, they are a very, very talented team. We knew that, but we came in here with the mindset that we wanted to win the game. To beat a team like that, you have to make plays. We didn’t do that. We didn’t play our best. It’s obvious, and I think they played very well.”
On struggling when in scoring range:
“A few times we shot ourselves in the foot. I think we went backwards a couple times, had a couple of opportunities, but that’s the name of the game. When you get in the red zone, you’ve got to score touchdowns against the No. 1 team in the country on the road. We didn’t do that, and the frustrating thing for me is we never really got close enough to apply any pressure on them. We let them play loose the entire game.”
On DeVonta Smith and the other Alabama wide receivers:
“We’ve done really good against top receivers in our league. “He’s a dynamic player, and there’s no doubt he did a good job on the perimeter with some of their bubble game too, but up to this game we’ve done a good job on main receivers. They’ve got talented receivers and we knew that we had to apply pressure on the quarterback. A couple times we were close to getting him, but give him credit, he was very accurate and he threw some very good balls for explosive plays.”