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January 6, 2018

Mel Tucker

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: We'll see. He's a versatile athlete so we'll see what he can do. We'll see what happens in the future. He's a very versatile guy. He can do a lot of different things.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: He's adjusted well to it. He's a very positive guy and he's a good teammate and he learns quickly, so I think he's done a good job adjusting so far.

Q. How do you tell these guys to rely on their instincts?
MEL TUCKER: All of our players are very instinctive guys, so we practice a lot. We get a lot of mental reps, we get a lot of physical reps, and we tell them we want to get it right in practice, so we can't get it wrong in the game. So I think as long as our guys are prepared and they feel prepared, I think they will be instinctive in the game.

Q. (No microphone.)
(Laughter.) Yeah, I really hate to make comparisons, but they're both great coaches and I enjoy working for both of those guys.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Everyone's different. I've got my own personality, and so -- but they're both great coaches and I really enjoy working with both of those guys.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, it's a similar platform. But obviously Kirby has his own ideas on how he wants things done, and so we have taken some things from there because it works. But we definitely have a unique program.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, yeah. I don't know about that. I haven't thought about that. It's really, it's our next game and it's really just preparing for our next opponent. So I haven't had time to reflect on that.

Q. Have you ever been involved in a game with this much cross pollination between coaching staffs, this much familiarity?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I'm not sure that I have been. Not in college, no.

Q. For Ledbetter to come back and be one of the leaders of your defense, what does that say about him?
MEL TUCKER: I'm really proud of Led. He's done a really good job. He's become one of our leaders. You know, I look to him to lead. He's matured, I believe, and he plays well for us. So I'm really proud of him and I think his best football is still ahead of him.

Q. Kirby says he's used him to help other younger guys who are maybe strained a little bit.
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, Led's a great guy, man, and he cares about his team, he cares about his teammates, he wants to do anything that he can to help. And so it's just -- I mean that's what this is all about. We're trying to develop guys on and off the field.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: It seems like that game was years ago. We're really just focused on Alabama right now. But there's just, there's nothing -- we didn't sprinkle any dust on anybody at halftime.

Q. Is there almost a sigh of relief in this game? You don't have to chase Baker Mayfield all over the field or face that kind of offense?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, there's no element of relief at all. This is a strong opponent, they have a great team, excellent quarterback, excellent skill guys, very big offensive line, their running backs are strong. So it's going to be a -- we'll be challenged, definitely.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: We just have to practice fast and get in a better position to tackle. We emphasize tackling every day, and so I expect it to improve.

Q. How much of that was just -- was it nerves from the stage or was it the rust from a month off?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, you know, I'm not exactly sure what it was, but we need to get it fixed. And so we have addressed it and we need to be high-percentage tacklers, we need to get population to the ball. If someone does miss we need to have someone else ready to clean him up.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I love Jalen. He's a competitor, ability to -- he can throw, and the ability to run the ball, design quarterback runs, and also improvise when the play is maybe a broken play and extend the play. Puts a lot of appreciate on your defense.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: There are some differences. I'm not sure if I could really get into the details of that right now, but there are quite a few differences.

Q. Is there any difference philosophically?
MEL TUCKER: Philosophically, we want to play physical football, smart and play fast and take the ball away and stop the run, and I think that's defensively universally that's what you want to do.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: We believe in coaching every player, every day in practice, so we take a lot of reps. All of our guys get reps. So I think that helps develop the players. So they gain confidence in what they can do within our scheme, they show us what they can do in practice, and we like to play a lot of players.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, obviously when you get experience as a young player I think it helps you going down the road. So we had a lot of players back from a year ago, and so I think that has helped us.

Q. Is there a sense at all when you first started here that this optimistic idea that you would get to this point as a team?
MEL TUCKER: Well, it's a process and we have a process and a platform in place. Coach Smart has done a great job laying that out, the framework, and we just worked that process every day. Our goal is to get better each and every day, to improve and keep raising the bar and keep moving forward. So when we -- when have you that type of attitude and that's really the expectation, you do improve and that's what we have done.

Q. But there's no talking at all about year one we'll do this, year two we'll do that?
MEL TUCKER: No, we just talk about being the best that we can be each and every day and getting better and focusing on the process of what it takes to improve on and off the field, what we have to do day-in and day-out and what the mindset has to be. We really focus on that and then the results follow.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: They're different players and so obviously we have to look at those guys differently. So they're both mobile quarterbacks and so those present challenges, but it's just a different team. So football's the ultimate team sport and so when you look at Alabama, you look at Jalen and his supporting cast and that's who we're preparing for.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Well, it's interesting to see. That's the great part about coaching is when you see players develop and he's developed quite a bit over the past two seasons. That's rewarding as a coach to see that. Coach Schumann has done a great job with him. He works really hard every day, he's very committed to getting better, he's never satisfied. And so you're happy when you see a young man like that have success on the field through hard work and dedication.

Q. How much did you guys take from what you learned about what Alabama did?
MEL TUCKER: We have a similar platform because we know that works. But obviously Coach Smart has his way of doing things and so there are some similarities.

Q. Who is easier to work for?
MEL TUCKER: I really don't like to make comparisons, but I love working for Coach Smart, working alongside of him day-in and day-out. He's got a really good personality, he cares about his assistant coaches, he cares about his players, he's authentic, he's genuine, he's very high energy, and I think we see the game of football the same way.

Q. How much insight are you guys able to give in preparation for this considering you guys worked with the Alabama defense and everything and you know the guys, etcetera?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, we do have some insight on some of their personnel and things like that, but it's really not about that. They have a great team, they have great personnel, obviously they're going to be very well coached, they're a physical team and so we're just preparing our guys to be at their best.

Q. Do you have a good Roquan Smith story?
MEL TUCKER: A good Roquan Smith story? Give me a chance to think about that. I'll comeback to you. I don't have one right offhand. Roquan missed quite a bit of time in the spring and so every time I saw him in the hallway or on the field I would call him Coach Smith, because he would coach the guys up on the side and I think that really helped some of our younger players and also gave him a different perspective on the game. So he was chomping at the bit and then he hit the ground running when he was ready to come back.

Q. You had the opportunity to coach Fitzpatrick when you were at Alabama. Describe him now and what's it like looking at him from the other side of the field?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I mean I could talk to you about him all day. I really have a genuine respect for him and how he goes about his business. It's been really fun to see him develop over these past couple of seasons, but there's just not enough that you can say about him. He's a great player, he's an even better person, and I'm really happy for the success that he's had.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: We do quite a bit of good-on-good in practice, so we face those guys and those guys are -- they're hard to defend run and pass. Those are versatile backs that run hard, they can run you over, they can make you miss, and they can catch the ball out of the back field. So you would like to think that when you go good-on-good it makes both sides better.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I'm impressed with everything that he does, the way he goes about his business. He's always got a smile on his face, he's very positive, his competitive toughness, I think, is at a very, very high level. And so that's really what I like about him. That he's -- and he's a team guy, he's very unselfish, and he is a leader, and he plays hard, and he's a great teammate.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I believe in life-long learning and I just work to get better each and every day as a coach and that's what I've tried to do. I've spent many years as a coordinator, but you learn something new every day. You learn things from other coaches, you learn things from players. And so it's just a -- I consider it a privilege to be able to coach at the University of Georgia. It's a great program, a great history, great tradition, and I just really want to do the best that I can do for the program.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I'm really focused on the game and I really don't recall that part of that transition for me to -- from Alabama to Georgia. And that's really not really something that I'm really focused on talking about right now.

Q. What are the challenges of going against Alabama's offense?
MEL TUCKER: What are some of the challenges? There's a long list of them. Obviously it starts with their offensive line, they're big, they're physical, they're tough, they're very, very well-coached and so they do get movement at the line of scrimmage and they can run the ball and they're really good in pass protection.

Their running backs, they have a stable, they all run hard, they have really good vision, they get yards after contact and they are very, very competitive and they're rugged and they have really good bursts in acceleration.

Their wide receivers are special, I think. I think that I saw really up close as a freshman. He was hard to cover then and he's even more difficult to cover now. And they have skill at every wide receiver position and they have tight ends that they can do it all, that can block at the point of attack, and also can threaten you down the field and stretch the field in the passing game. The quarterback makes them go. So they have a very well-balanced offense and they play well together and that's why they have been successful.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, they work well together. I think they know who they are. They want to be physical, they want to come off the ball, they want to try to get movement at the point of attack and they're going to fight and they're going to be physical. So that's Alabama football.

Q. Who stands out to you from their receivers?
MEL TUCKER: All the guys that they put out there, and they play quite a few guys, they're all very, very dangerous. I mean every single one of them. And so obviously Calvin is special, but I think all of their players are very, very dangerous. And they have certain roles, things that they do well. And so we're going to be challenging, everyone's going to be at the point of attack, because they have so many good players.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: It's been pretty solid preparation. I think the guys have done everything we have asked them to do and they have given great effort in practice, been very focused in the meetings, and so I've been very pleased so far with the preparation.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, there's quite a few differences. I mean, it's really about the people that make the organization go. We have a similar platform in structure, but the personalities of the coaches and the players and then Kirby running the show and doing things the way he wants to do them, it's a lot different.

Q. Do you see times where you're like oh, yeah, that's Nick Saban.
MEL TUCKER: Kirby is his own man and so I don't often find myself having those types of thoughts.

Q. Does he have the same attention to detail?
MEL TUCKER: Kirby's very detail-oriented. Very detail-oriented, yes.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: As a GA? Coach Saban gave me my first opportunity to coach and I really loved working with him. He's a great teacher. He took me under his wing and he taught me a lot and he's special to me. So I really enjoy working with Coach Saban and I consider him a friend and a mentor.

Q. Given that you saw Calvin Ridley the same way -- at Alabama, the same way that Jeremy Pruitt saw Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, is there any advantage there? Is there something that you can bring that the normal defensive coordinator wouldn't be able to do?
MEL TUCKER: I don't know if that -- that there's an advantage there. I think what you see is what you get. You look at the game tape and you see what Calvin can do. He's very explosive. And he's a guy -- he's gotten better and better every season. So he runs excellent routes, he's got great balance and body control, he can stop and start, he can make all the catches, he can win outside, he can go across the middle, he can go deep, he does a really good job blocking, he's very competitive as a blocker and so -- and we show our players that. So we know what he's capable of doing and he's a great player.

Q. Is it weird to look back on that Alabama game of 2015 and think, boy, we were there and they were here and it's like nobody's in the same spot now.
MEL TUCKER: No, I really don't think about it that way. Every year every team is different and so it's really about focusing on this game, this opponent right now.

Q. What have you seen from Alabama's passing attack that's different?
MEL TUCKER: Well, there's some similarities, obviously, because of the quarterback. But they do a really good job of getting the ball to the players that can make plays and taking advantage of matchups. And so that's something that you see. And they have been good on offense, they will continue to be good on offense because they're going to be very well-coached and they're going to have good personnel.

Q. What have you seen from Jalen Hurts that's stood out?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, well, I was there two seasons ago and when I saw him in bowl practice, actually, I just know that he was just a very tough guy. He did a really good job kind of being Deshaun Watson for us in practice. And I think he gained immediate respect from our guys on defense because of his toughness and his ability to compete and go in there and do whatever was needed and make plays. So he's just -- he's developed into a complete quarterback and he's very tough to defend.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Donald's played a lot of football and he's a smart player, he's very instinctive, he's a leader. I think he's grown in so many ways and matured into a veteran player that's very consistent that you can count on to get his job done. Donald is a staple for us, he's one of our rocks, he's a guy that we count on, he's a core, he's a core leader for us and a core producer.

Q. How much do you guys worry about energy before a game?
MEL TUCKER: Our job is to get our guys ready to play through great preparation and practice and the meetings. I feel like our guys will be ready to play from the outset.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: We played a lot of football with this group and I think they will come out and play hard and have good energy from the start.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I don't know him very well.

Q. Did D'Andre Walker play inside some against Nebraska or was that just an outside linebacker position just being tight in the formation?
MEL TUCKER: D'Andre Walker is a guy that is versatile and we can do a lot of different things with him and so we have a lot of different packages. So there may be times where you may see him inside, sometimes you'll see him outside.

Q. So that was a good answer to your needs on inside linebacker a little bit?
MEL TUCKER: No, it was just part of our package and some of the things that we do.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Referring to Kirby's dad? Sonny? Yeah, when you go around and you're recruiting and in Georgia and even outside of Georgia, everybody knows Kirby, everybody knows his dad. And they speak very highly of him. Almost revered. So when I see his dad around practice, and in the office, I always make sure I go over and shake his hand and try to talk to him a little bit just because he's just got a good quiet confidence about him and he's just a great guy to be around and I have a lot of respect for Kirby and his family.

Q. That has to be a neat dynamic for Kirby.
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, you can ask Kirby, but I can only imagine that how being a coach's son, being a coach's kid, and I know his family's proud of him.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, we're really just focused on Alabama right now, but there wasn't anything special. Our guys are poised and we know that there's going to be momentum swings in the game and we're confident in what we can do. And that's going to be the key to this game is playing good, sound fundamental football, playing hard, being assignment sound, running to the ball, being physical. And those are the things that you need to do to stop people and I think that's, that's really what we did.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I don't feel that. The coaching profession is -- it's really kind of like a tight network and there's often times, like every week you know coaches on the other staff. You might have worked with them before or they may be friends or whatever, so kind of everyone knows everyone. So it really is not about that. It's really about preparing for the opponent and trying to identify what they do well and practice those things and prepare the team so they can be ready to play on game day. And it's not so much about the relationships or what the coaches on the other staff.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: It's a different defense. Kirby and I want to do what our players can do best and that's really the key to putting together a defensive package and developing the players. You want to see what types of players you have and what they can do best and put those guys in position to do those things often. So we have a versatile scheme and so we really try to hone in on what can we do fast and physical, how can we be successful with this group of guys and it may change. It may change from week-to-week and it's going to evolve based upon the players you have.

Q. Give us some insight on Jalen Hurts. What challenges does he present to you guys?
MEL TUCKER: Got a long list. A long list. He does a good job throwing the ball, he's very competitive. On design quarterback runs he is like, he's a strong runner, he's like a running back, hard to bring down, and he can make you miss. So if you got a guy that can throw and he can run and he does a good job as a scrambler to make things happen when the play breaks down in the passing game and he keeps his eyes down field so he's scrambling looking to throw, but he will run. So that's tough -- and he's experienced and he's played in a lot of big games, so he's calm, cool, and collected and so he just puts a lot of pressure on your defense.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: They have done great job developing him. He's a complete quarterback. He can do it all. He's shown that week-in and week-out. The throws that he makes from the pocket, the throws he makes outside of the pocket, when he improvises and makes things happen when plays breakdown, designed quarterback runs and just poise and being a leader and the competitive toughness he has. Obviously they have done great job coaching him and we all know how hard he works and how dedicated he is. And so he's just developed into a tremendous player. Puts a lot of pressure on your defense.

Q. Talk about living in Athens.
MEL TUCKER: I love Athens. My family loves Athens. We have -- I'm married and we have two boys. We have a 15 year old and a 13 year old. They found some -- the oldest boy plays soccer and so he's got a nice soccer club and he's got friends and he enjoys his school. My youngest boy plays -- he's a lacrosse goalie and he plays football. And so with that Georgia Swarm being there and he's part of that deal. It's just a great atmosphere for the family.

Q. Tell me, if the Tuckers are going out to dinner, where are you going to?
MEL TUCKER: If the Tuckers are going out to dinner, what types of places are we going to?

Q. Any place in Athens that you guys like?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, there's quite a few. I think it would be, it would be unfair, it would be unfair if I plug one and didn't plug the other, but the food in Athens is great. It's a great atmosphere, it's a progressive town, it's got really positive energy, and it's got a unique culture. And my wife and my boys, they just love Athens and so do I.

Q. What's the best -- who is the best chef in the family?
MEL TUCKER: The best chef in our family? It's not me.

Q. Is your wife a good cook?
MEL TUCKER: She's an excellent cook.

Q. So the coaches are coming over for dinner. What's she going to make?
MEL TUCKER: What's my wife going to make? Everything she makes is great. I mean number one dish?

Q. For your birthday what did she make you?
MEL TUCKER: She's going to ask me what I want, what I like, and I'm going to tell her probably some lamb chops. And she will do -- she will whip those up for me. But I like to get on the Green Egg a little bit myself. Yeah, and I've got a Traeger. So with the Green Egg and the Traeger side by side, depends on how much time I have and --

Q. How long -- do you cook ribs all day long?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I'll try. I've done a decent job on ribs. Obviously the basics, like the steaks and the burgers and stuff like that. The brisket, I quite -- I haven't gotten that down yet.

Q. Low and slow?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, low and slow. I haven't gotten that down yet. I've tried about -- I've gotten progressively better with that. The first time was not very good.


Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Our focus is on this game and this team and what they do well and trying to prepare for that and try to take those things away if we can. Coach Saban does a great job preparing. And we work really, really hard on trying to watch as much film as we can, trying to get as many tendencies as we can, try to put our guys in position to make plays. And so attention to detail and all those things, just making sure our players understand our game plan and what Alabama's going to try to do against them.

So they do a great job coaching over there, their players are going to be very well-prepared as always and we're doing our best to prepare our players.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Pretty quickly, yeah. Yeah, like right away.

Q. Is there anything that stands out about him early?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, he's just -- his thirst for knowledge and wanting to get it right, wanting to know what to do, taking notes, asking questions. He plays -- he practices so hard. His expectation for himself is just very high and so he's a self-starter and so you can see that from day one. Obviously he has the athletic ability, but when you have that mental focus that he has and his drive and determination to be great, I think those are things that you recognize immediately.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I do not.

Q. What kind of growth have you seen from Deandre Baker?
MEL TUCKER: Baker, he's come along, he's improved. I think that he has gained confidence in what he can do. He knows what he does well. I think he understands the importance of technique and fundamentals, which we work hard on every day. And he's very competitive and he likes the challenge. So he's got the perfect demeanor for a corner. That's a tough position to play, but he's already, he's always ready to play the next play.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: He's got really good football instincts, he's very competitive, and he knows that we all have a job to do and they're all tough jobs. So he takes pride in holding up his end of the bargain.

Q. Where has this defense made their most progress?
MEL TUCKER: I just think that we have tremendous chemistry. I've seen our guys grow and become a tighter-knit group. They know us better as coaches, we know them better as players, and they know each other, they play hard for each other. And so, obviously, just adjusting a lot better to our scheme and our techniques and what we're asking them to do. They have gotten a lot of reps, and this group of guys have played a lot of football. And they push themselves very hard to improve and raise the bar and never to be satisfied. And so when have you guys that are talented, they care about each other, they love football, and they work hard and they continue to try to raise the bar, you're going to improve and I think that's what we have done.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I think you learn something from every game. You learn something from every play. Whether it was good or it was bad, you take from that and you learn from it and then you move on to the next play. So I think that's what we have done.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I think that we talked to our players about the process and what it takes to be successful day-in and day-out. Starting in the off-season, in the out-of-season. There's really no off-season, it's really the out-of-season, in terms of the weight room and how you have to condition yourself and things like that. Kirby has a number of championships. I have two. And so there's credibility there in terms of hey, guys, this is what you need to do in order to be successful, and we're going to relentlessly work on those things day-in and day-out.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: You know what, I'm not sure if I can give you -- I would love to give you the answer to that. I'm not sure because we don't talk about winning that much. You know what I mean? We really don't. We talk about what it takes to win, like the process. We always talk about not looking at the scoreboard and playing the next play and winning that down, just dominating your box and things like that. And then look -- and then seeing what the results are at the end. So what it takes to win a game is what it takes. You got to play well, you got to make plays. And we do -- we try to show our guys things that will hurt you and things that will get you beat. And we also show them -- show those guys things that you can do to -- that can help you be successful. So these games, every game, gets bigger and bigger, but the process is the same.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I only raise my voice in enthusiasm.


Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: That's just the reality of the situation. I mean it's never as good as it looks and it's never as bad as it looks. So we're always trying to reach our full potential. So when guys go on the field we expect those guys to play at a high level and do things right. And whether they're the starters or they're the twos or the threes, it really doesn't matter. And it's the same thing for the coaches. We just want to get it right and do things right. And you love to see when the players take ownership of that. And when you see your leaders step up, like Roquan and Davin and Zoe and John John and guys like that. When they step up -- and sometimes as a coach we're to the point now where sometimes we don't have to say anything, they handle it. And that's when you know that you've grown and you developed some leaders and they understand what we want.

Q. How versatile is Roquan going against these different quarterbacks?
MEL TUCKER: Roquan? He's versatile because he's strong against the run, he can make plays sideline to sideline, he's good in coverage, he's a good blitzer, he's a good signal caller, and he brings a lot of energy. He can erase some mistakes that happen on the field just because of his ability to close and make plays in space and things like that. So he's very versatile and we try to put him in position to make plays.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I think they're unique just because of all of the weapons that they have and how physical they are and how they have a really good balance in their run game and their pass game, their play action passing game is tremendous. They've got really good leadership. Their skill guys across the board, their receivers and the tight ends, and with the running backs. And they have got guys that can catch the ball out of the back field. It's just, they put a lot of pressure on your defense because they can do so many things. And I think it's a unique offense. We haven't seen an offense quite like this. But every week you see, every team is just a little bit different and so it's a tremendous challenge for us.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I'm not sure how much that plays into it. A lot of my focus, all of my focus, is really on their offense and what they're doing now and what we see those guys do on film. Because typically what you see on tape is what they are and what they can do. So we're really just focused on that, making sure our players understand what they're trying to do offensively and maybe any tendencies they may have and just being able to recognize the formations and the plays and things like that. So that's really our focus. But just knowing some of their players and knowing some of their coaches, I'm not sure if that's as big of a deal as maybe you might think.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: They put a lot of pressure on you because they do a great job running the ball. And I mean they take pride in it. And they have got good backs and they're strong and that really sets up their play action passing game. And they make a lot of explosive plays in the passing game because of the run game and so we just have to do what we do. It's really about being sound, technique and fundamentals, being really smart, playing fast and playing physical, and everyone doing their job.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Well, the turnover margin is a huge -- that's a huge impact on the game. Typically the team that wins the turnover battle usually has the best chance of winning the game. So we emphasize that day-in and day-out. And with the spike pads I think that's something that our players, they get excited about it and they take pride in it. And we have a set that we use for practice, we have a couple sets we use for practice, and then we have a set that we only use for the game. So I can't take credit. That wasn't an original thought on my part, but it's working. We need to continue to attack the ball. We haven't gotten as many turnovers, takeaways, this year as we would like, but it's going to be a huge factor in this game.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: She's helped me quite a bit just because I got to know her when I was at Alabama and she is very straightforward and she will tell you the truth. And so that's important when you have people that tell you sometimes what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want to hear.

Q. What do you guys tend to work on or talk about?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, that's usually not something that --

Q. Attorney-client privilege?
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, attorney-client privilege or patient-doctor, I don't know. But she's, she's a good friend of our family, actually, Jo Jo and the boys and so I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

Q. Is there something that was like mind blowing or wow when you first sort of engaged with her a little bit?
MEL TUCKER: No, I just think she's really good at what she does. She's very professional. And I just think that she's -- the things that she does, she does at a high level.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: Yeah, I knew that he would be a great player, because he's just a great worker. The great players that I've been around have tremendous work ethic and drive and determination. They're self-starters. He has that. So you take that with his intellect and his athletic ability, that's how you become great and that's what he's done.

Q. Did he have that back then?
MEL TUCKER: Oh, yeah. I mean he's always been that guy. He's always been that guy. It's a privilege when you get a chance to coach guys like that.

Q. (No microphone.)
MEL TUCKER: I think it's both. Dom takes pride in his preparation. He really wants to know what to do and how to do it and why. He studies a lot of tape, he does a lot of extra work and so I think that allows him to be in position. And he's also instinctive and he has confidence in his ability to make plays.

Q. When you watch Jalen Hurts on film, does it surprise you that some Alabama fans are clamoring to see the backup?
MEL TUCKER: I mean, when I see him on tape, I see a guy that puts a lot of pressure on the defense. And I think he does a heck of a job leading that team and leading that offense. And in the passing game he makes big plays, designed quarterback runs, he's extremely tough and then being able to improvise when plays breakdown. I mean it just puts a lot of pressure on your defense. So he's going to be a tremendous challenge for us and I think he's a great player.

Q. How amazed are you of what Kirby has done in two years?
MEL TUCKER: It's a process and Kirby has a plan and we work the plan every day. And so we just are really focused on that process day-in and day-out, and we look to improve every day and that's what we have done and how we have gotten to this point.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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