Saban Addresses Media as Season Opener Approaches
BATON ROUGE — LSU football head coach Nick Saban addressed the media Monday at his weekly press luncheon in the fifth floor conference room of the LSU Athletic Administration Building.
Saban discussed the season opener against Oregon State, commented on fall practice, and went over LSU’s current injury report. Archived video is now available to members of www.LSUsports.tv.
COMMENTS FROM LSU COACH NICK SABAN AT MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
“I think this game is an opportunity to find what kind of competitive spirit this team has this year, and what we do this year, basically, is not going to be affected at all by what we did in the past. I think our players need to definitely understand that. It’s all about what are they going to say about you and how you compete and how you play? What are they going to say about this team in how you go about doing your business on the field?”
“I’m talking more about intangibles in terms of the kind of effort, the kind of toughness, the kind of ability to execute together as a team that this team has, and that’s really all that matters. I think that a lot of it is psychological. When you’re coming off of what we came off of last year, the players have to have the right frame of mind, and I think that’s going to be the key to their success.”
“They’re certainly going to be challenged by this team. I think that Oregon State has a very very good football team. They won eight games last year, they were the No. 1 offensive team in the Pac-10, their quarterback (Derek Anderson) is back who threw for 485 (yards) against USC last year and they have a very good offensive scheme. Coach (Mike) Riley has done a very good job there, I think, of implementing a lot of pro-style type stuff that they do a good job of executing.”
“Defensively, they were fourth against the rush last year, a top-10 team overall in terms of how they play defense. They are very aggressive in their style, they play a lot of bump and run man-to-man and give teams a lot of problems, especially in running the football. On special teams, they have some good specialists, and that will be an area that will be very challenging for us to try to take advantage of our team speed in some of our return people as we go.”
“It’s important, I think, that when you open up (the season) there are some things that are always important. Just like the game this past Saturday night, you know, how are you going to execute, it’s important to take care of the ball, big plays will be a big factor in the game, how the quarterbacks get affected in the game, whether we affect theirs or they affect ours, always has something to do with the outcome and, of course, playing well on special teams and controlling field position is really important in any game.”
“I feel good about where we are, what we’ve been able to accomplish. Our team has had three of the last five days relatively off in terms of the physical part of it. We had a very tough practice on Saturday, which was the hottest day of the year from a wetbulb standpoint. So, the players worked through it. We’ll get back after it today and tomorrow again.”
“From an injury standpoint, we’re hoping that (wide receiver) Skyler (Green) is going to do dry-land running today, and how he responds to that will determine whether he can practice tomorrow. But he seems to be getting along very well. (Tight end) Mit Cole is probably within striking distance, so he’ll be able to get back as soon as his brace gets in. He’s going to do dry-land running, and they’re going to start running Herman Johnson a little bit today. Those are really the only three guys that are not going to practice today.”
…On Oregon State’s offense
“They are totally a one-back team except for two tight ends and two running backs in the back field mostly in short yardage type situations. Whether they do it with two wide outs in a game or three wide outs, their approach valve a lot of crossing routes, lots of screens and control passes. But, they make big plays on those with their ability to catch and run the ball. This is as close to what I would refer to as the west coast offense. This may not mean anything to anybody but if you watch the Green Bay Packers or San Francisco, when you watch their one-back offense this is their closest similarity that I can describe.”
…On his worries with the team overlooking the first game after the success of last year
“I don’t they think they will overlook the first game or take it for granted. I think they all want to play when the time comes. But, whether their disposition has been or will be what it needs to be when it comes time to compete the way we need to compete will be the question and how we respond to adversity when it comes time to compete.”
“We don’t have as much maturity on the team this year, especially on offense. I think how they respond from a competitive standpoint. I think they are all going to want to do it when the time comes. But are they going to have the intangibles and mental toughness to respond the way you want them to in a game. I think that is going to be the biggest question. I don’t think there’s any doubt about when you come off of the success that you’ve had that you really try to get your team to focus on what’s happening now, what their challenges are ahead.”
“We’ve tried to establish that by talking about this is a new mountain we have to climb, we planted the flag last year but that’s over and done with. It’s history. Even though everybody in this room says we’re defending something, I only view it as you defend what you can lose. I don’t think we can lose the 2003 national championship. It’s all about this mountain that we have to climb, the challenges of this season, about us having the right disposition about doing that. Now, if we’re satisfied about what we accomplished last year, then we’re not going to be ready for the climb.”
…On what Marcus Randall brings to the team this season
“I thought he had a very good spring. I think he’s had a very good fall, and I think he’s offered a lot of stability to the other players on the team. We would like for some leadership to emerge on offense, and hopefully Marcus, being a fifth-year senior, he’ll provide some of that, especially to some of the younger players. But he’s just executed very well, and he hasn’t made a lot of mistakes. We feel good about that. We’ve got to get some of the people playing around him to play with a little more consistency. It usually takes a little longer to get that developed on offense, especially when you’ve got some younger players at key positions, but that’s what we’re basically trying to do. We’ve been very pleased with Marcus and what he’s done.”
…On what challenges the Oregon State defense will pose for Marcus Randall
“Well, they’re very aggressive up front. They play of eight man fronts, and they’re very difficult to run the ball against. So, they put you in a position where the quarterback has got to make some plays, and their team plays like that. I don’t want to compare styles, but philosophically we’re a little bit like that. Once you get him (the quarterback) in that position, then you try to affect the quarterback, and that’s what they do with how they pressure and rush.”
“They’ve got a good front seven, very dominating people up front. They’ve got some rushers that will give you some problems. It’s going to be important for us to be able to make some plays in the passing game and make some big plays. I think when teams play like that, that’s the difference. If you’re good enough to keep from giving up the big play, then that style is great. But if you give up the big plays, then you’ve got to question if it’s really worth it. They have two really good corners, they’re both back from last year and they play very well for them.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES FROM MONDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE
OL ANDREW WHITWORTH
…on preparation of Oregon St.
“It’s time to put things together, and we are all definitely really excited. One thing that sticks out for them is that they are going to play you for 60 minutes. We take pride in here and its something that is going to be a good challenge. For a lot of young guys it is going to be there first time to be out on the field. I’m definitely excited for both sides, and definitely up front they are talented, so it will be a good challenge.”
OL BEN WILKERSON
…on preparation of Oregon St.
“They are a real hard-nose defense. They have some big guys up front so it’s going to be a battle. These guys are going to be ready to play. The key is going to be just to be ready for them when they get down here. Do our game plan, do a lot of film study and make sure we know everything that they are going to do to have a successful game.”
DE MARCUS SPEARS
…on the Oregon St. offensive line and preparing for them
“They’re pretty good and they’ve got some nice size to them and they’re athletic. The guy I’m going against, in particular, was an all-conference player last year — I’m looking forward to that. They’re a typical O-line. They’re smart guys, they have some new faces on their line.”
… on going against a taller quarterback
“There’s a difference, but you still have to get your hands up. No matter what, the trajectory of the ball doesn’t change. You have to throw it over the offensive lineman’s heads. The only difference about him is he has a pretty tall offensive line, but he stands in the pocket and delivers the ball, so we have to get our hands up and hope the trajectory helps us out a little bit.”
… on going against a west-coast offense
“There’s a difference [from the Southeastern Conference]. When you play in [the SEC], it’s a lot of running the ball and pounding, so it brings a different aspect to the game. It’s exciting because you can get after the quarterback a little more, and you know you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to pass rush. And that’s kind of good if you’re a defensive lineman, especially a defensive end, so I’m looking forward to it.”
…on finally getting to the first game of the season
“I’m just ready to get back. This has felt like the longest off-season for me ever. I’m excited that it’s game week, and I’m excited that we’re preparing for somebody else.
CB COREY WEBSTER
… on facing Oregon St.
“They’re great. They have a good quarterback surrounded by a whole bunch of good skill position guys, so we’re going to basically come out and try to dominate the game.”
… on playing a pro-style offense in Oregon St.
“It’s exciting because they’re going to be able to throw the ball a little more than a team normally does.”
DT KYLE WILLIAMS
…on playing without Chad Lavalais
“Chad’s going to be missed. Chad set the tone for our defensive line last year. He was such a good player and we all looked to him in a critical place, and he made the plays. So Chad’s going to be missed, but he’s doing well, and I think we’re going to do well too.”
… on the defense possibly carrying the team until the new quarterback and wide receivers get comfortable
“I don’t see why not. As a defense, we always like to think that we carry the offense. If something doesn’t go quite right for them, we like to step up and fill the void. We did that a few times last year, and in the same way the offense did that for us.”
… on the defense setting the tone for the season
“I think that we’re going to have a strong defense and that the defense wants to set the tone for this team. We want to go out and we want to compete. We want to be electric to the crowd and to the offense. We want to rub off by the way we compete.”
… on how long it will take the defense to the level they need to be and their readiness come Saturday
“It’s unrealistic to think that we’re going to be the same team [as last year]. There might be a few different things going on as far as game-wise and players-wise, but I hope it doesn’t take us a few games to get started, because this team that’s coming in is a very good offensive team, and if it takes us a couple of games to get the ball rolling, we’ll have a big “L” on the [scoreboard] if we mess around and we’re not crisp come Saturday. So I hope it doesn’t take that long. I’m sure it will take a game or two to get the chemistry just right, but the way that we perform and the way that we play defense, we’re not going to compromise because we haven’t played a game or two. We have to be ready Saturday because Saturday is our first test.”