Alabama won its third straight Iron Bowl on Saturday night when it defeated Auburn 49-27.
The win improved Tide’s record to 10-2 as it awaits its bowl assignment next Sunday, December 4th.
Here were the highlights from Nick Saban’s post-game press conference:
– “Before you ask, you should see the other one,” Saban said about his facial injury. “I took one of the hardest hits of the entire game and unlike some of our players who had to go into the medical tent – like I always say, they’re not making them like they used to.”
– Saban said Alabama is a “different kind of team” when Bryce Young is healthy.
— Saban said it was great to win the Iron Bowl, but what he’s most proud of is that the team didn’t give up this season when there were “naysayers out there.”
— “We had a lot of injuries. Had a lot of people missing some time,” noted Saban.
— Saban brings up the playoffs. He said he didn’t know who won or lost earlier today. “It’s a great opportunity for our team to be considered,” he noted of the two four-point losses. “We’re a good football team and hopefully people will recognize that.”
— “Look, if I think it’s going to help our team, I definitely will,” Saban said of a media tour to bid for the playoffs. Saban said his focus is on winning the Iron Bowl, which is a “significant achievement.” Beyond that, he hasn’t given it any thought, he said.
– Saban said they did a lot of quality control before the game to study their tendencies and break them offensively. That led to different formations and moves, “and that paid off for us”. Saban noted how Alabama effectively ran the ball early in the game and set up game action. “Bryce played really well, and I felt the receivers played well.” There were a few drops, however, Saban said. He also brought up Young’s interception in the fourth quarter as “tough” because they could have “iced the game” back then.
— Saban said Bryce Young and Will Anderson were great leaders and ambassadors for the university. “They are a wonderful example for any aspiring young person to emulate,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of two guys for what they accomplished, but also how they represented our program and the university.”
– When asked if Bryce Young had recovered from his shoulder injury this season, Saban said it was an example of “courage, his determination, his character and his commitment to the team”. Saban said Young wanted to play even if he couldn’t throw in practice. He said it might have hurt the development of other players on the team and “I’m sure he played with a little pain at times,” but “the guy’s a great competitor.”
– Saban said, “A lot of the naysayers, a lot of the people who were very negative about this team, a lot of things that were written and said about the team really united the players.” Saban said he appreciates the fans and the atmosphere at Bryant Denny Stadium, but when people are negative, “they hurt the university, you hurt the program because it reflects our culture and how positive we are.” Saban said the program is built on positivity and “everyone want to be a part of it.” Saban said the program is not built on naysayers or failing at any particular level. “I think that’s what brought this team together more than anything,” he said. “They wanted to persevere and prove what they can do.”
– Saban said Auburn did a “great job” with their running game. Saban said he didn’t see some of Auburn’s plays since he was a Pop Warner player and managed the Single Wing. “They play well and are difficult to defend,” said Saban, adding that Robby Ashford played an “excellent game” as a runner. He compared it to the wildcat and said Alabama practiced against some of them but didn’t execute it.
– Saban said the offense wants to keep showing the players they have and “hopefully they can continue to build on that.”
— Saban said Auburn’s two turnovers helped Alabama take an early-game lead and “I think that made the difference in the game.”
– Saban said missed tackles were a problem, including late in the game on one of Auburn’s big runs.
— “I think when people are negative and critical, it makes people question the culture of the program. The culture of the program is as good as ever,” said Saban. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the culture here.”
Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @micerodak.