Everything Nick Saban said on Monday of Vanderbilt game week – 247Sports

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke to reporters on Monday, the first day of Vanderbilt week. Below is everything he said to open the fourth game week of the season. 
I was really pleased with the energy that our players played with in the last game. They could have come out and just said, ‘Look at who we’re playing,’ and not played to the standard that we’re trying to create, which we tried to emphasize. I thought the energy and enthusiasm was good. I thought the execution was a lot better. I thought we played a lot smarter. We’re still working toward — and each and every player can do this, each and every coach can do this, I can do this — toward total consistency in playing to the standard that we want to play to. The choice is, is do you want to build on the challenges of the future? Now, we’re getting into SEC games and certainly this first game is going to be a challenge.
“It’s an SEC game. Vanderbilt’s 3-1. Much, much improved team over last year. They have like 14 starters back, but they’re scoring 42 points a game and they play two quarterbacks. Both of them are very, very capable. Very good athletes. They run the ball. They run some options. Very capable passing. 14 (Will) Sheppard is one of the leading receivers in the SEC. Offensively, they play hard, they’re tough. They’ve given up some yards in the games but they’ve played well enough to be able to be effective in winning three games. The kicking game is good. The punter is one of the leading punters in the country in terms of a 48.9-yard average. Joseph (Bulovas) has done a good job of kicking for them. This is a good all-around team and it’s going to be a challenging game for us.”
On how the transfer portal affects offseason scouting…
I think it only affects it from a personnel standpoint. It doesn’t usually affect it dramatically from a schematic standpoint. You know, technically what does the other team do? Their offense or defense doesn’t change dramatically unless they change philosophies, change coordinators, change personnel in some way to do that. But you don’t know for sure who the players are going to be in a lot of cases, and how they’re going to use those players.”
On remaining position battles…
I’m not going to speculate on players and positions. Everybody’s in competition. Nobody’s entitled to a position. Everybody’s got to go out and compete every day and play well and do the things they need to do to play winning football. And the more guys we get to do that, the better off we’re going to be. There’s no personal matchups or battles that I care to discuss.”
On what he saw in Tyler Steen at Vanderbilt…
“He’s a very athletic guy. He’s got really good power for his size. And is a good pass blocker. Very smart guy. Understands how to play fundamentally, use his hands, and has played pretty consistently for us in the three games that he’s played. Has certainly not disappointed us in any way, shape or form. He’s got a lot of experience, which I think helps. We’re very pleased that we’re here.”

On Will Anderson’s pick-six vs. ULM…
“Will’s got great passion for the game. He plays with great energy and enthusiasm. You love coaching guys like that. I think it’s infectious to other players on the team. You know, you see the reaction from his teammates when he has success and scored a touchdown. We need to do more of that. Not just Will, but everybody on defense. Create more turnovers, make more big plays, make explosive plays, score on defense. I mean, those are really, really fun things for any defensive player, so I know it was really fun for Will and his teammates to see him do it.”
On Khyree Jackson leaving the stadium in a walking boot…
“He sprained his ankle on a punt return. I think the one that Brian Branch ran back for a touchdown. I don’t think it’s significant, but when you have an ankle injury, you gotta go day-to-day and we’ll see how he does this week.”
On Jaheim Oatis…
He’s done a good job. He’s a young guy but has played really, really well. He’s powerful. He’s hard to block. Thought he probably played the best he’s played the most consistently probably in this last game. So hopefully he’ll continue to develop and we can develop some other guys in the defensive line that will provide more depth for us as well.”
On if there has been discussion of running tempo more on offense…
“We have been an effective tempo team. That’s something that’s been good for us. It’s something that we work on that you really got to get the players to get up and down, get ready and go. I think Bryce likes it when we do that. I think it’s also beneficial when we spread the other team out and do that. So we just got to keep working on it and hopefully continue to make it an asset for us in the future in terms of how fast we play and how we execute.”
On Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea…
“I think he’s changed the whole culture of the program. Their players play really hard. They play with confidence. I think they believe in what they’re doing offensively, defensively, special teams, and culture is the biggest thing you try to establish in the program. They’ve got some pretty good players. They got some experienced players that are back from a year ago. They’ve got better skill guys than they normally have, better quarterbacks. They’re doing a really, really good job of coaching them, and they’ve got really challenging systems to defend against.”
On his message to fans in Mexico…
“We appreciate all the fan support that we get in Mexico, and I wasn’t aware of all these places that watch us. But I do know that we have an iconic brand that sort of spreads, not only throughout the United States, but in some of the bordering countries in Europe. So I think that’s a good thing for our program, and I know it’s a great thing for our players. But we appreciate the support. We love that you love Alabama, and I’ll just say Roll Tide to you.”
On Deontae Lawson’s progress…
“He’s doing a good job. He’s much more confident in knowing what to do and how to do it. I think he’s playing with more confidence. I think it takes players a while to develop that, you know, systematically in terms of understanding what’s required of me on this play. A lot of guys, maybe in high school, they just ran and tackled the guy with the ball. But we try to play a systematic defense where everybody has a job to do. And the way you get challenged offensively in college football now with the kind of plays people run, everybody’s got to be really disciplined in how they read the plays and how they fit the plays. And I think when linebackers sort of get confident in that, then they start playing a lot faster. And I’ve seen that in Deontae in his play.”
On JoJo Earle (foot)…
“I don’t recall saying he was day to day. Hopefully he’s going to start doing some dry-land running and things this week. But that’s a medical decision. So when he gets back, I don’t know for sure, can’t comment on. I’m hoping sometime soon, but I don’t know when that might be.”
On the improvement in blocking on punt returns…
“It really comes down to judgment. We coach punt returns very similar this year to the way we did last year. You know, clamp the guy, stab and lag the guy, sit and fit the guy, don’t clip, don’t blindside hit anybody. Pull off the clip if you have to, which means you just try to shield the guy, don’t hit him in the back. We’ve coached all those things ever since I’ve been here. So, players make good choices and decisions because they play with discipline and they understand the consequences of making bad choices and decisions. One of the things we want to improve on is to be able to play penalty free and eliminate penalties. Even though we still got a few too many penalties in the last game,  it was better than the game before, and hopefully we can continue to eliminate that.”
Full video of his press conference…

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