Connor Halliday, Darryl Monroe and Vince Mayle addressed the media on Saturday afternoon to talk about Thursday's loss to Rutgers, Friday's game at Nevada and more. Highlights from those interviews are after the jump.
(Are you trying to be a more positive leader this season?)
Yeah, definitely. I think that helps young guys a lot and we play a lot of young guys and I think it shows. I thought our offensive line played a good game, tremendous game, I thought we played a pretty good game all the way around. It was a tough loss but I'm pretty happy with everybody's part.
(What was your message to River after the punt?)
I was just telling him that we're going to need another score and I'm going to be coming back to you so forget about that, we're going to win this game and we'll laugh about it later.
(Do you think the added weight has helped you play on after those big sacks?)
Yeah, definitely. I think that will help anybody that needs a little bit of weight, a little extra padding, protect everybody. I really didn't get hit very much, the couple times I got hit they were big hits but for the most part the offensive line did a heck of a job to keep them out of there and they were a big, stout defensive front and I couldn't be more happy with the way the offensive line played.
(Does it feel like the offense has to be perfect for the team to win?)
I don't think so. You can only do so much, you know, you can't worry about the other stuff. You can go out and do your job – that's what coach Leach preaches – and trust that the other 10 men on the field are going to do their job. I think we did a pretty good job of that, I think it showed in how we played offensively, and I think we'll only take steps forward from here on defense and up front and I'm excited to play Nevada there.
(What changed for the offense after the first four drives?)
I'm not completely sure, I think everybody calmed down a little bit. We had a lot of guys playing their first couple snaps of college football, I think everybody was trying to do too much. I think once we just relaxed into the game everything started connection and obviously we took off.
(Is that as good as you've felt in the offense?)
Yeah, probably. But where I'm at know you don't really notice it, you just kind of feel that that's how it should be, is the way it feels. Maybe if I was a little younger I would have noticed it a little bit more but now it just feels like what we should be doing.
(Are you taking fewer risks because of your confidence in the receivers and the offense?)
Yeah, definitely. I think taking less risks has just happened in me becoming more mature in the offense and the guys are just a lot better with the ball in their hands. Vince was unbelievable after the catch on Thursday night, Isiah was, too. Calvin (Green) will be when he gets an opportunity – he had a couple catches but they weren't in much space – and Rickey (Galvin) had a heck of a game. Going down the line, everybody played well so exciting to see a five-yard slant and it ends up being 30 yards.
(Do you worry about a hangover after the game?)
Maybe for a team like Alabama, I mean, we've dealt with this too much to have a hangover, you know what I mean?
(Is it gratifying to prove people wrong who doubted you?)
I'm not worried about any of those opinions and stuff on Twitter was still said even though I threw for 530 yards, there were still tweets at me and all that so it doesn't change and I'm not too worried whether the frat boy tweeting at me thinks I can play quarterback or not.
(What were some positives you could take away)
We were gelling. It was kind of like we were just throwing it to ourselves with nobody on us. We just have to learn from the mistakes that we had and just move forward because offense – we felt like we did pretty well.
(What wasn't clicking on the first four drives?)
I felt maybe we were tyring to do too much, we were happy to play somebody else. We just had to calm ourselves down and run our offense the way we know that we do it.
(Does it feel like the offense has to be perfect to win?
No, we were just doing our job. We just let too many opportunities slip away. There were a couple times we should have scored where we didn't.
(Is there a hangover?)
There's a salty taste in our mouth right now. We'll take the affect away from last game. We're ready to go out and get ready for this week and prepare for the next game.
(How much of your success is a better knowledge of the offense?)
I give 100 percent of that to knowing the offense. I took a lot of time to know the offense with Connor and I kind of know when the ball will come my direction with the reads and stuff. I look at the secondary before the snap and see on the play call and see where the ball's going to go. If it doesn’t come my way I still run hard.
(How has Connor's leadership changed?)
He was calm, he was more poised. We talk after every drive so he wasn't as, like if things didn't go our way he was more positive and 'let's get it going.' That was good.
(What were your takeaways from the defense's performance on Thursday?)
We need to focus on the little things as far as our technique. That's pretty much about it.
(What was Rutgers doing in the run game that made it so effective?)
They were just trying to exploit little spaces that we gave them. Their back did a pretty good job of finding wholes to get through.
They had some pretty unique schemes and some pretty unique ways of getting to a lot of runs that we expected or we usually see from a power team or an I team. You've just got to give it to those guys. They get paid, just like our coaches do, they work hard just like we do and they had a really good gameplan. They had some pretty unique ways to get to some different runs and it opened up for them just enough to win the game.
(How would you rate your tackling as a team?)
It was pretty sloppy. That's one of the things that I feel like we need to come into and harp on in practice and work on as a team. It's not that we can't tackle, it's just little things that guys pad levels are getting too high, hips are too high, dead feet. So we'll get in practice, work those things out. We'll be alright.
(How do you think Mitch Peterson handled being thrust into a starting role?)
I think he handled it well. Mitch played last season and Cyrus went down and we went to count on Mitch and he pretty much played the whole game – he got spelled a bit by Tana at Sam—and both those guys did pretty good.
(What's the biggest challenge for the young guys heading to their first road game?)
I feel like the last one was a (road) game, really … For the young guys just getting acclimated to the schedule, the routine. Understanding that it's not a vacation, it's not some tourist deal. It's a business trip and just learning how to eliminate the distractions as far as everything that's going on. It's everything about being a Division I college football player going out to travel away.
(Does not doing much live hitting in practice make tackling harder in games?)
No, I don't think so. I just think that we went into that game and defensively we were anxious. We got reckless at times. We went in there and tried to unleash instead of going in there and, 'hey, let me focus on my technique or let me do this.' We worry about too much of what were trying to do to them without relying on our technique. We never came back and were like, 'hey, let's focus, let's settle in, let's play how we play, let's do what our coaches taught us.' We got away from our technique too much and it ended up being a sloppy game.