Nick Saban, after No. 1 Alabama won its 20th straight home opener, and its 15th consecutive with a 48-14 victory Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“Look, this was a good win. Proud of our players for the way they played some of the time. We probably didn’t play to the standard that we like to play to. I mean really what we are trying to do is create the kind of habits that create consistency in performance so that you can stack performance and get better and better and better.
"I think some guys did that today, and I think some guys probably didn’t. I think it is probably attributed to how you prepare, how you practice, the things that you do because that’s when you create the habits, that’s when you play fast. Practice fast, you play fast and good things happen.
“I thought our defense did a pretty good job until the end of the game. We got to play a lot of players and they made some mistakes; they gave up some plays. I think the experience will do them well.
“Offensively, we got to play a lot of players. Obviously, the experience will help them as well.
“All in all, it was a good win. You have to give a lot of credit to their team. It is kind of their team’s dream to play in a game like this, so they are going to play out their dream. They played hard and they played really good and they had a good plan. Their players competed their tail off in the game, and we have got to give their coach and their team a lot of credit for that.
"We have to get ready and look forward to the things that we have to do to try and improve ourselves to be able to play next week at Florida. It’s an SEC game. We are going to go from there.
“We had some guys out today. (Josh) Jobe didn’t play. Jalyn Armour-Davis didn’t play. LaBryan Ray still didn’t play. Will Anderson went out. Checking out his knee. He is questionable as to what his circumstance will be here for the upcoming week.”
Asked about offense's slow start:
"Well, what did you think?"
"It's kind of a loaded question isn't it? I mean if it stinks, it stinks. It smells bad for everybody. Did it smell bad for you? Yeah. I mean, what do you want me to do, make excuses for them? We did a poor job of blocking. They did some movements up front and we didn't sustain blocks. So we didn't have much success running the ball. It stopped ourselves four times in the first half with a dropped pass on third down, a dropped pass that would have been a big-play pass, and two penalties. One penalty brought back a touchdown. One penalty stopped a drive. So I don't know how many possessions we had the first half, but that's four right there where we stopped ourselves. So umm .... "
On Kool-Aid McKinstry’s first start:
“I thought he did a good job. I really did. He knew the game plan. He prepared well. He played well in the game. On the long touchdown pass, I’m not sure if he should’ve been on the back half or if he should’ve followed his guy over. I know he crossed into the back end on that one, and he busted on the other touchdown pass that they threw too. One side’s doing one thing, the other side’s running something else. We have nobody in the deep part of the field. But I thoughtKool-Aid did fine.”
On JoJo Earle as a receiver and his performance today:
“Well, we’re trying to get JoJo experience and we think he’s an explosive player. He played some last week on a couple of the shorter passes, and then working him as a punt returner, trying to get him to gain confidence. As soon as we saw they were going to punt us the ball today, Slade (Bolden) is very dependable out there, but JoJo can be very explosive.
"But again, penalties?
"The one thing you've got to have is you have to be disciplined as a player. You have to have discipline as a player. It means that the choices and decisions that you make as a football player are legal and you're not getting penalties. And you have to maintain your intensity so that you can have good discipline. That’s how you create the right kind of habits. We had five penalties on special teams last week, and I don’t know how many we had today. It’s ridiculous. We gotta get it fixed."
What about special teams otherwise?
"Other than the penalties? We blocked a punt, scored a touchdown, changed field position several times on punt returns. And I thought the kickoff cover team did a really good job. We had several tackles inside the 15 ... or inside the 20. So I thought the teams, other that the penalties ...
"We negated positive yards. I don't care how you cut the mustard in a football game, a hundred yards usually equals seven points. So if you just had 100 yards in penalties you just gave the other team seven points because you gave up that much field position. So when you have a 25-yard return and you have a 10-yard penalty, that's a 35-yard penalty. You just keep adding those up and you see what you're giving up."
On Mercer ...
"I think Mercer's got a good team. They've got a lot of experienced players. They have a system on offense that's really difficult to prepare for because it's not something you see all the time. We only maybe four calls in regular and four calls in nickel, and make sure we try and play them right. They play hard, they play with toughness. Their defense really plays well. They run to the ball. They read run-pass. They're very disciplined in the way they play.
"I don't know all the teams in their conference, I don't see them all play, but I would say that this is a pretty good team at their level."
On improving in discipline moving forward:
"These are all choices and decisions that players make. They make a decision to throw their helmet. They make a decision to grab and throw another guy on to the ground. Whether it's controlling your emotions ... because when you're emotional you make bad decisions. You have to play with intensity, but not out of control. We have to make better choices and decisions.
"Your question would be like someone asking me 'How are you going to get this guy to stop swinging at balls over his head?' in baseball. It's a bad decision. It's a bad choice. You can tell him. You can show him. You can tell him. You can show him. And eventually you play somebody else in their place because they're not dependable.
"It's accountability. I have a job to do.
"You know, I told this story today. Maybe we need more of this. You know, when I was growing up I worked for my dad. So every day at dinner he would [slaps podium] do that to the table. And there was a reckoning, a reckoning for everything that you were supposed to do that day.
"So if you were supposed to cut the grass. Did you sweep the walk? Did you trim? Did you put the mower away? Did you clean the mower? And if you didn't do any of those things right, you were going to do it again.
"We might need a little of that somewhere along the line."
Update on Jobe and Armour-Davis, and how McKinstry and Marcus Banks did:
"I already said Kool-Aid did a good job. I don't really have anything else to say about that. I think the other guys should be back. We didn't think their injuries were that serious to start with, but they were a little more serious than what we originally anticipated, or thought what they would be.
"They weren't able to practice all week, and I didn't want to play the guys in the game if they didn't practice against this offense. It's a lot of rotations and there are a lot of different things going on. If you don't get reps doing it ... and some of the play-action passes they had which we didn't match very well at the end of the game, especially with the second team in there, are really difficult. You have to be really disciplined and have disciplined eye control to really play it. But I think those guys will be back."
"I hope you all don't think that I'm mad at you, I'm not. I'm ... if you're frustrated with the penalties, I'm like 10-times more frustrated."