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December 28, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We'll start our final Alabama session of the day. We'll welcome quarterback Jalen Hurts, tight end O.J. Howard, tackle Cam Robinson, and center Bradley Bozeman.
Guys, we'll just start with an opening statement. We'll go down the row here. Jalen, starting with you. I'll ask you to tell everybody what's been the highlight of your Bowl Week experience so far since you've been here in Atlanta.
JALEN HURTS: I'd say the highlight has been just to experience all these good things they have for us. They've done a great job of showing us out and allowing us to have a good experience. But like I said over there, one of my great memories was going to get Popeyes the other night. I was kind of hungry, and it was really good.
THE MODERATOR: O.J.?
O.J. HOWARD: I think the whole experience has been great. One that stood out the most, last night we got a chance to visit Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up and was a pastor there. Reliving that whole civil rights movement and thankful for all they did for us was one of my best experiences so far.
THE MODERATOR: Cam?
CAM ROBINSON: I think just overall, just being here with my brothers. Any time we can come to a bowl game, just go to things like Topgolf, Ebenezer Baptist Church with these guys, it's things you're going to look back and cherish those type of times that we have had. We still come here, we've still ultimately got one goal in mind. But so far, that's probably been the best part for me.
THE MODERATOR: Bradley?
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: Like Cam said, it's been a great opportunity to come here and be with my family, and it's just blessed to be in this opportunity and just have to finish out what we started, and I think probably my best time here so far is probably Topgolf last night.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
Q. Jalen, just overall, first impressions of Steve Sarkisian being your offensive coordinator and how similar he is to Lane Kiffin.
JALEN HURTS: He's a talented guy. He has a great track record, and I think he'll do a great job here. I have a lot of respect for him because I know what he's done, the quarterbacks he's had. So I think he'll be fine.
Q. Good morning, gentlemen. Jalen, what were those rides like in the red truck to and from school and practice with your dad back in Texas? And what lessons, during those conversations you guys had, stick with you now that made you the person you are now?
JALEN HURTS: Those experiences were, you know, experiences that I'll never forget in life. He's done a great job of grooming me into the man I am now, young man I am now.
And like I said, driving home from practice after watching some film in Big Red, it was all good. We talked football. But once we stepped in that garage, let the garage up, it all came to an end.
Q. He told me a great story about when you first came up to varsity. He was all over you, man. All over you. And you never flinched. He said it drove him crazy and after about three days, he stopped getting on you because he'd go watch film and realize he was wrong and you were right.
What, within you, gives you that ability to be that poised, even at that age?
JALEN HURTS: People talk about how poised and how relaxed I am on the field, but I think all that comes from him. Because I told him the other day when I went home, I said, I am my father's child. And that is true. He's groomed me into the person I am. He's humble. He's a competitor. And I think I resemble him in all ways, really.
Q. For the older players, a couple of guys yesterday were talking about how they sort of caught themselves sounding like Nick Saban when they went home to their family or something and someone caught them talking about the process. Has that happened to you guys? Do you guys pick up characteristics from your head coach?
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: Yeah, I actually catch myself all the time sounding like Coach. He's right, though. This is a process, and we have to buy into what he says and everything works out.
THE MODERATOR: Cam?
CAM ROBINSON: It's funny, because in the other room, I was doing interviews. I was talking and the process just kept slipping out of my mouth. I wasn't necessarily trying to use it. I think that's just how Coach Saban, he's groomed us so much and he's drilled into our mind, you know, the things that we need to know to be successful. We're probably just like mini Sabans running around. Probably not as intense, but, I mean, he rubs off on us a lot.
THE MODERATOR: O.J.?
O.J. HOWARD: I would say the same. I found myself the other day just back home for Christmas break, and our team, we have a saying, be where your feet are. And my mom was talking about something later on in the week. I was like, Mom, just be where your feet are. Take your time, take it one day at a time.
So I just take little sayings that we take as a team and I find myself saying it back home because it's really things you can use in your life every day.
Q. This one is for Cam and Bradley both. I know y'all kind of went through this two years ago with Blake Sims. But just tell us what it's like as an offensive lineman, blocking for a guy that can buy time with his feet.
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: I mean, it definitely makes it easier on us in ^ ck[indiscernible]. We don't give up as many sacks because he can kind of get out of there.
Having a guy like Jalen and how composed he is and the athlete that he is really makes it easier on us. It kind of makes the defensive ends play contained and they can't really rush as hard as they want to because they're worried about him scrambling out of the pocket and running the ball.
It's been a really good advantage for us to have Jalen and his athletic abilities.
CAM ROBINSON: Just like Boze said, he does a great job. If you do just so happen to get beat on a rep or anything like that, he does a great job of getting out of the pocket and kind of avoiding pressure. So it kind of covers up for mistakes sometimes or anything like that.
So, I mean, it's a great addition to the offense for him to be able to do that.
Q. Cam, this question is for you. A rocky off-season with the charges. How have you used that lesson to grow as a leader on your team?
CAM ROBINSON: I just looked at it as, you know, guys going to fall, they're going to bump their head. Use it as a lesson learned.
When I came back, when I got back, all my brothers had my back. They told me they had complete confidence and complete trust in me.
Just use it as -- just grow. Just take it, learn from it and grow up from it. Know that you can't let those type of mistakes happen in the future.
Q. For the older guys, typically it's your job to be leaders for the freshmen and teach them things. What are things Jalen has taught you this year?
CAM ROBINSON: I'm going to take that question first. I know sometimes in the past, sometimes if things weren't going as well as it needs to go, I was the type that would get frustrated. I wanted to click like immediately and I wanted it to happen now.
Jalen, he does a great job, when he comes to the sideline, if things aren't going as well as they need to be going, he does a great job just making sure we stay calm and just stay the course. Just keep chopping wood, just keep doing what we're doing and we'll get on track eventually. We'll get some things going on offense.
O.J. HOWARD: For me, everything on offense doesn't always click. That's football. You have bad plays. And sometimes we have three and outs. I'm kind of frustrated, other guys are frustrated. But honestly, man, we look over at Jalen. He's the quarterback. He's calm. He's chill. I think if the quarterback's good, we all should be good. So I think that's really the biggest lesson I've learned from Jalen, honestly, just chill. Just relax. We know what we got to do and I see it on his face all the time, so I really like that from him.
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: Probably just his confidence. He's always confident in the huddle and no matter what happens.
I remember Ole Miss, we gave up a sack and I think everybody knows it. Sorry about that again, Jalen.
But, you know, he came to us and told us that he had our backs and he knew we had his back. That's probably the biggest lesson I learned from him.
Q. Jalen, having played in some pretty tough environments this season, some road environments, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, obviously, how does that help you? And then with the SEC Championship here in Atlanta, how does that help you in terms of your experience, staying grounded, not getting awed by the big stage as the stakes get higher and higher over the next one, maybe two games?
JALEN HURTS: When I touch the field, I have to get comfortable and get a feel for the game. But as far as environments I've played in, I think the loudest was Arkansas because that first play was just rah, rah, wow. It was the first time I've ever experienced that.
But I think after the Ole Miss game, which was pretty loud, I settled down and I'm like, well, I don't think it can get any worse than this. And I felt it less how I uphold it throughout the season.
Q. Jalen, back in the spring game, you were the only one to throw a touchdown during that game. Was it at that moment that you maybe thought you'd be able to win the job early on in the year?
JALEN HURTS: No, I don't think one touchdown could give a person a job. It comes from practice. What do you do on this rep? Are you getting better? Are you getting worse? And I guess I was improving. I gained the respect of my teammates, won the team over. So here I am.
Q. Jalen, when looking at this Washington defense on tape, they lead the country in takeaways. In your mind, what's enabled them to create turnovers like this?
JALEN HURTS: I couldn't hear you.
Q. This Washington defense leads the country in turnovers. In your mind, looking at them on tape, what enabled them to create turnovers like that?
JALEN HURTS: They're ball hawks. They play fast. They're smart and they do what they do well. So we just have to come out and execute our game plan, play our game, and see what happens.
Q. Washington's only loss this season was to USC and they kind of ran a similar way of offense you guys do. Did you learn anything, see anything about the way USC was able to exploit the tough defense? And what can you use from that game and apply it to this one?
JALEN HURTS: Well, USC resembles us. We resemble each other in many ways. So I think we'll try and attack them similar, like they did. But we just have to go out and play.
Q. Bradley, you smiled and laughed a little bit when you said Topgolf last night was your favorite memory. A couple other guys chuckled too. What was so funny?
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: I kind of got hit in the head with a ball. Yeah, the little cart that picks up the golf balls was coming by, and right in front of the slot where we tee off at, and someone decided to hit the ball -- thought it was a good idea to hit the ball and it bopped off and got me in the head.
Q. Jalen, Coach Kiffin was just in here and said -- I guess he went down to Channelview and worked you out in the spring before you came to Bama. He said he went back to T-town and said that kid's a first round draft pick. What do you remember about that workout that day?
JALEN HURTS: Well, me and Ashton Turner, one of my running backs at the time, we went out there and got pulled from, like, fifth period or so on to the field. My dad said Kiffin's here.
I said, Okay. I'm like, Oh, wow.
So I went over there and threw for him and I impressed him. And for him to say that, that meant a lot to me. But like I said, hype is nothing to me. Just it's about what you do on the field.
Q. Jalen, you mentioned a while ago that you won the team. And Coach Saban, you know, talks about that, you know, winning the team. The quarterback winning the team, how important that is. What particular moment in the season or what game do you think you actually did win the team?
O.J., maybe you could talk about that, too.
JALEN HURTS: Well, I think that was done before the season with the workouts and I guess they just saw a dog mentality in me. One of my teammates said, I mean -- and I said it over there, you know, a guy can have it. ArDarius Stewart, he has it. You don't know what it is, but he has it. He's a ballplayer. And I just think that's how they felt about me.
O.J. HOWARD: I would think it was before the season, like Jalen was saying. I can remember a particular day, honestly, we were at fall camp. We were on the field and I think Jalen had just threw an interception, but he came over to the sideline and I was standing nearby. I wasn't really in the conversation. But it was him and one of our strength coaches. And Jalen was just -- that's when we found out he was just so composed, he didn't let it rattle him or anything.
He said, I'm going to bounce back. I'm good. He said, I'm going to be all right, Coach.
Jalen went out the next drive and he threw us a touchdown with the first team offense and that's when I knew that Jalen was like the guy. This kid don't get rattled. He settled down easily. That's when I thought I knew he was going to be the quarterback.
Q. Cam and Bradley, what have you seen from the defensive line and how they rush the passer and stop the run?
CAM ROBINSON: Well, I think one thing we've noticed on film is the interior of the defensive line, they have really good interior guys and they try to use those guys to kind of clog up the middle or kind of stop the middle.
On the outside, they have guys that are really athletic and those are the guys that can run around and make plays, make tackles. They'll let them use their team speed really well. I think that's kind of, from the film study I've had, that's probably the biggest thing I've noticed from them.
BRADLEY BOZEMAN: Yeah, same as Cam. I think they average about 320 on the defensive front. They're going to be a real challenge for us to move off the ball, and we'll have to bring our A-game.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports