As a coach at nearby West Alabama, Will Hall used to spend a lot of time on the Alabama campus and in the football offices absorbing everything that he could.
Saturday, the new head coach at Southern Miss learned what it was to be on the opposing sideline at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Here is some of what Hall said to the media:
"All right, obviously, played a tremendous opponent tonight. They're No. 1 in the country for a reason. We’ve got the utmost respect for them, and I thought you saw that tonight. It was disappointing that we let them gash us a few times in the kicking game. We've been really good in the kicking game.
“I thought defensively and in the kicking game, I thought, you know that we made some really good calls on the defense to get pressure on them a few times, and to make hits in the backfield. We just couldn't quite tackle them a few times, and it is what it is. They’ve got really, really good players.
“We’re in year one of developing this program and getting ourselves bigger and stronger and faster. I felt like they did a great job of getting the ball to their playmakers in space, putting us in a position where we had to tackle, and we just couldn't bring them down sometimes.
“Offensively, I thought our young quarterback really grew up tonight. I thought we saw some things really take a step forward. You know, I thought our kids battled and didn't quit, and I'm really proud of that. We're building this program. We talked about coming over here today, representing our families’ last name, representing our university, about playing hard for 60 minutes. I thought our kids did that. We're not at the level Alabama is yet, but we're building every day to get to that level. It starts with me and recruiting and everything we're doing, and I thought our kids represented our university in the right way with their effort.
“Now we're into conference play, which we're excited about. We got to get home and evaluate this film and get going and look forward to getting back into Conference USA and getting better.”
On how the atmosphere affected the team on the sidelines:
“You know, I really don't think it affected them. I mean it was an unbelievable atmosphere, you know, and it should be right I mean, it’s got tons of history and tradition. And it was an awesome atmosphere, but I thought our kids handled it, I really did. You know, we had a few third downs were backed up into their end zone, where they caused some guys to jump offsides, and I know we have got to do better in that situation, but for the most part, I thought our kids embraced this opportunity. We knew this was an opportunity that was going to be a really tough opportunity, but we also viewed it as an opportunity for us to grow, to grow as individuals, to grow as a team to grow as a program. Our main focus was we wanted to come out of here today and feel like we improved. We wanted to show our teammates and each other, that we would battle and be a warrior for each other for 60 minutes. When we cut this tape on the floor, we wanted everybody to be able to play with unbelievable effort, and we wanted to take a step forward with our young quarterback to get him a lot of lab work on some things that he needed to get better at in order to be ready to play going into conference play. I think we accomplished those goals, you know, now we did not represent what we want to be on the scoreboard. I don't believe in moral victories and all those things. We've got to build this program back to when we come over here we can compete to win. That's what we're working to do. We're not there yet, let's not kid ourselves. That's not where we're at as a program, but we're working hard every day to get back to there, and what we can control right now is our effort and our attitude, and I thought our kid’s effort and attitude was phenomenal tonight for 60 minutes.”
On Bryce Young and Jameson Williams:
“Really, really good. You know, they're really, really good. You know, they’re as advertised. They're fast. They're big. Bryce is accurate. He’s going to have a bright, bright career here, which every quarterback that plays here does. And, you know Jameson had a huge game for them on the kick return. That was disappointing, you know, because we’ve been so good in the kicking game. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and look at what happened right there and see what the issues were. We let them run one back on a sky kick, which is inexcusable. We had a guy not where he was supposed to be running down right there. We can fix those issues, though, moving forward.”
This story will be updated ...