| FTBL What they're saying about Alabama at SEC Media Days 2018: Day 4



Alabama already made the rounds at SEC Media Days 2018 yesterday, but Day 4 of the conference’s annual media event still featured some chatter surrounding the Crimson Tide.

Below is what opposing coaches said about Alabama on Day 4 of SEC Media Days.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn

Question: Coach, obviously, you played Georgia and Alabama last year. How similar are those teams defensively from, I guess, a schematic talent standpoint from what you saw? And can you encapsulate the difference between the two games last year with Georgia, the regular season and SEC Championship game?

“Schematically, obviously with Nick and Kirby being together so long, it's going to be very similar. You know, there's little tweaks that they'll do different, but they're very similar. Both of them had very good players. I tell you that. They're both extremely talented. I'm not going to set here and say who is more talented than the other, but you would put both those teams' talent level towards the top if not at the top of our league as far as that goes.

“And then the regular season, we played extremely well at home. You know, then the next, I guess, two weeks later we had to play Alabama, another No. 1 team at home, and then a week later we had to turn around and play Georgia again.

“So I believe we played champions and defending champions three out of four weeks. That's a tough challenge, there's no doubt. But that's part of it. That's kind of what we talked about as our staff, talked about as our players; that that's a schedule we have and that's who you have to beat to win this league. And so hopefully we'll be better prepared to take that next step.”

Question: Gus, you guys – the second half of your schedule, you play three teams that are former Nick Saban assistants, and you play Saban. … How has that affected the league, the proliferation of those assistant coaches, and how are you going prepare for I guess the Nick Saban gauntlet in the second half of the season?

“Yeah. I mean, they're all good coaches. All of those guys have been with him when they've won. You know, but when they get on their own, when everybody gets on their own, it's their own team. Everybody is different. There may be similarities scheme-wise, but each coach is going to have their own personality and everything that goes with it. So I really don't read too much into that, honestly.”

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason

Question: Not to drudge up a bad memory, but the week of the Alabama game, and the aftermath last year, can you describe just kind of the emotional highs and lows of that week and how much it took kind of the wind out of the sails of your team for a while?

“Yeah. I think it goes back a little bit before that game. I think it was the physicality of the Kansas State game, if you want to be honest. When you talk about our roster, and where we're at, we don't look like most teams in the SEC. Okay? We don't have 135, 145 when school starts. We've got 103, 104.

“So with that being said, we tried to manage the roster. I thought our guys played a hard-fought game versus Kansas State. That was great. You play against a good Alabama team that just beats the breaks off you, and that's okay. I mean, you learn a lot. I think for me as a head coach, being a defensive coordinator, I probably got in my feelings a little bit and thought my team needed to be harder, and we needed to work that team harder. We really didn't. A loss is a loss. You can't let one become two become three become four in this conference. And that's what I did. That is me being too much of a boots-on-the-ground guy and not seeing it from a bird's eye view.

“I feel like I cost our guys because we went into the season last year with high expectations. We started the right way. We let one become two become three become four. That's on me. Our guys got to play better. I got to do a better job coaching. That's why I stepped back from being coordinator. I'm head coach. I can see everything clearly now. I believe we do have more depth. And the idea of playing well is what is on these guys' minds. They are hardened. They got galvanized by that stretch of football. It's not necessarily how you start. It's not you how play the middle of the schedule. It's really how you finish. They finish the right way. And they have not forgotten the memory. You won't let them. I won't let them.”

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp

Question: You know, there's four former Nick Saban assistants who are now head coach in the league. You're playing the other three guys. There's obviously been a lot of hires from his staff in the league.

What do you think about his influence? And the more you guys that are in the league, do you think that helps kind of a chance to knock him off because he's 12-0 against assistants, but maybe the more you guys get in the league and understand his program, maybe the odds increase you might be able to beat him one day?

“Well, I think obviously, you are what your record is. Nick is the best coach in college football because of the accomplishments he's had. He's done an outstanding job running his program from a scheme standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint, from a development standpoint. You name it, he does an outstanding job.

“Athletic directors are always looking for the next mold of what that could be. And I think that's what's provided myself and other guys opportunities. Not to say that we haven't done a good job and a job in the role that we had with Nick, but that gives you opportunities to get, you know, a chance to be a head coffee. But at the end of the day, I guess if you do have more odds, you got a chance somebody's going to eventually beat him. Hopefully we'll continue to get that to happen.”

Question: There's so many former Saban assistants now in the SEC, how do you think that's going to affect play this year?

“Well, I think they're all quality coaches. I think a lot of Jimbo Fisher and Jeremy Pruitt and Kirby Smart, I think all of these guys – when you work for Coach Saban, it's a total education in the game of football, recruiting, all of the things that you got to do to be successful.

“And certainly, each one of those guys will have their own spin on how they want to do things. Jimbo won a national championship at Florida State. It speaks for itself. Kirby had an outstanding year last year. So again, I think they're all quality coaches and friends.”
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