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December 1, 2014

Ryan Kelly


CHUCK DUNLAP:  Ryan, before we begin, would you mind just talking about Alabama making it to Atlanta and facing Missouri on Saturday.
RYAN KELLY:  It's a great matchup.  Any time that you can make it all the way to Atlanta after a long, hard SEC West schedule, it's great.  I know the guys on the team are really excited.  We're just going to have a great week of preparation before we head to Atlanta and face a pretty good Missouri team.  We're going to have to do everything this week to get prepared.  The coaches are, I'm sure, going to put a great game plan together for us, and we'll just go out and execute as an offense.

Q.  Why do you think playing with more tempo and pace on offense has been such a good fit for you guys?  What has enabled you to do it so well?
RYAN KELLY:  I think that's one of the biggest things that Coach Kiffin has brought to our offense.  Any time you can get up to the ball and get set a little bit faster, it gives the quarterback more options to check out of things if he doesn't like what he sees on defense or‑‑ and it forces the defense you're going against to play more basic fronts and doesn't give them a lot of time to check out of things that they can see as well.
So I think it gives us the advantage on both sides that we can get up and get set and play with a lot of speed.  I think Coach Kiffin is really trying to utilize that as an offense.

Q.  Is that a big adjustment for you guys or not that big of an adjustment?  What do you think?
RYAN KELLY:  I think it was.  At first, when he came in in the springtime, I think it was an adjustment for everybody because it was a little bit uncommon, I guess you could say, for us.  We were more of the contemporary huddle five yards from the ball and kind of break out of the huddle and get up, get set, and then A.J. would check down and things like that.
Now it's get to your spots as fast as possible so we can give Blake more time.  If he sees the look he likes, we'll just go ahead and run it, and it kind of pauses the defense a little bit.  It gives‑‑ they are more susceptible to playing their base defenses, and it gives us the advantage.

Q.  Ryan, what impressed you most about Blake and kind of the way he handles his job as a first year starter?
RYAN KELLY:  I think, when you look at Blake from West Virginia to now, a lot of people see the growth he's made on the field, but a lot of people don't see what he's done off the field.  The confidence that he possesses when he's off the field in the locker room, just a great guy to be around, great teammate, and I think, as well as he's playing on the field, he's also carrying it off the field, and it brings everyone else around you up.
To have a quarterback like that in the backfield that can make plays as much as he does when we need him to but also be the vocal leader, the confidence guy for everybody when things aren't going great, I think that's what really says a lot about Blake and his work ethic.

Q.  Ryan, to win kind of a shootout that you did against Auburn, how beneficial is that for you guys?  Whether you have to play a team like that in the postseason.
RYAN KELLY:  You look at the game‑‑ we didn't come out starting the way we wanted to.  We put up points, but things kind of stalled out a little bit.  I think what says a lot about this team is the resiliency we play with.  You look at the second half, and we really wanted to finish the season strong, the way that we didn't do it last year.
So I think you look at that game, you look at the second half, and we really did what we wanted to do.  People say we didn't start off great.  We knew that, but we knew we had the tools to execute what we had to do.  We just needed to go out there and do it.
The coaches provided us a great game plan, but it was up to us to do it.  At no point did you see the team down or anything like that.  It was just this is what we've been taught to do.  This is what we work for.  We've just got to go out there and do it, and in the second half, we did that.  To end the regular season that way, I think it was a big confidence booster for the rest of the guys.

Q.  And for the offense to perform like it did, I know in a couple of SEC games before that, you guys kind of struggled here and there.  To put as much of a complete game together like that, how much did that help you?
RYAN KELLY:  The confidence keeps growing on offense when you can do that.  We always want to put together a complete game.  Sometimes we know it's not always going to go perfect.  To come out in the second half and really try to dominate the line of scrimmage and make them quit, it was huge for us.  We had to put 55 points up.  So we really finished the way we wanted to.
That's what Coach Kiffin has been harping on and Coach Saban has been harping on, the finish that we didn't have last year.  That confidence will definitely carry over into SEC Championship.

Q.  Ryan, wanted to ask you, you've talked about tempo, and you've talked about Blake.  I wanted to ask you about the first time you played in the Georgia Dome because I want to say it was like the second quarter when you all made the shift and kind of went up tempo, and things got a little smoother because Blake was struggling.  What do you remember about that game and how things kind of changed from that moment on?
RYAN KELLY:  That was the first game of the season.  So at that point, you only have‑‑ that's your first live opponent with a new team, new guys, but from then on, I think it's‑‑ you can see just the offense, how we communicate, finish our blocks, all those kinds of things.
Playing in Atlanta is a great venue to play at, and we're happy to go back there.  I think you're going to see a different offense than what you saw against West Virginia just because the more time that we've had to grow all 11 together every day in practice and every week playing in the game, it's just a different team than the first week of the season.

Q.  And I wanted to ask you about recruiting rankings.  Alabama is always No.1, it seems like, in recruiting.  Is that an extra pressure?  Ever since you've been there, Alabama's been favored to win.  What is that like being at a program that's always expected to win?
RYAN KELLY:  I don't think we're not expecting to win.  It's more this is the outline.  When you come here, there's a reason you're coming here.  It's not for everybody, Alabama isn't.  There's the way that Coach Saban does things, there's a way that we do things at Alabama that I think make us‑‑ you know, they're just a little bit different than everybody else.
We're bringing the best recruits, some of the greatest athletes that I've ever been around.  As long as we keep doing that, we've just got to continue what we're doing.

Q.  Ryan, I wanted to ask you about T.J. Yeldon.  It looked like he had some of his explosion back in the last game against Auburn.  Just talk about the game he had.  Is he healthier than he's been maybe the last three, four weeks?
RYAN KELLY:  Yeah, any time‑‑ I think we sat him out the game before that, but whenever you can have T.J. in the backfield, he's got a real great sense for hitting the holes.  So any time as an offensive lineman, we're always trying to play perfect, all five up front, but sometimes when things don't happen or when they bring blitzes that we haven't seen before or somebody comes off the edge, having a guy like T.J. can really help break some of those one‑yard gains that can turn into six or seven.
By the third or fourth quarter, just because how big T.J. is and how physical he plays, he can really wear a defense down.  So any time you can have a guy like T.J. Yeldon back there, it's pretty great for the offensive line.

Q.  Ryan, what was your first impression of Coach Kiffin?  How do you think he benefited you guys this year?
RYAN KELLY:  It was‑‑ he's the third offensive coordinator that I've had since I've been here.  He's a little bit different.  All coordinators are different.  All coaches are a little bit different.  His style is kind of up tempo, a little bit more up tempo.  It was kind of foreign to a lot of guys at first.  I think he knew that.  So he was really patient with us and learning that‑‑ it was just a different style of offense than we've had the past three or four years before that.
The things that he's been able to do and the things that he sees us as an offense and where we could go, every week it's just trying to put us in the best position to be successful.  I think he's done just a phenomenal job.  All the guys really want to play for him and really love playing for him.

Q.  When you guys do go up tempo, do you like that?  Does it make you feel like a good thing is getting even better?  How do you feel about it?
RYAN KELLY:  Yeah, it makes the defense, like I said before‑‑ it enables the defense where they can't really‑‑ they have to get up and get set.  So it's a benefit to the offense.  For us, it took a little bit of time at the beginning to get used to just because you've got to start getting back into shape.  You've got start playing a lot faster.  But once you can do that, it benefits us in the long run.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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