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November 26, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jonah Williams.
JONAH WILLIAMS: We're really excited about the opportunity that we have, having worked hard to run the table this season. And our next week's challenge is a great team, this Georgia team. And we obviously played them last year in the national championship, but (indiscernible) down to business. (Indiscernible) talking about last year, it was really about what we can do this year, moving forward. So we're excited about this challenge ahead of us.
Q. You and Tua are having a great year throwing the ball, throwing the ball much more than in the past. Have you had to put extra time on your pass protection and blocking to prepare to say -- the Alabama team you played on earlier in your career, where a little more run-oriented? How has that worked out with the offensive linemen?
JONAH WILLIAMS: I wouldn't say that we're putting more emphasis on anything. Our goal as an O line and offense is to execute whatever play Coach obviously calls in. If he calls in a pass play, our job is to protect Tua and allow him to make the throws he needs to make calls.
And of they call a run play, our goal is to block everyone up and try to make plays for our running backs. I don't really think we put an emphasis on one of those more than the other. I think that our goal is just execute the play called, and we obviously have a lot of playmakers both with quarterback, receivers and running back and tight ends. And I think that as-on O line, we really want to facilitate their success, be it a run or a pass.
Q. What is your impression of the Georgia defense, watching them on tape the last few games?
JONAH WILLIAMS: Georgia's obviously extremely talented, extremely well coached. Coach Smart and Tucker do a great job over there. Their players play really well within their scheme. They also have a lot of talent. I think that goes without saying.
So it's our biggest challenge, both because they're a great team and because it's the next game. And I think that they're going to give us their best game, so it's on us to give our best game as well. So that's what we're preparing for this week.
Q. You guys have been so dominant this year. Who is the toughest team you've played?
JONAH WILLIAMS: I think that with the slate we played in the SEC, I think you can't really sit here and rank teams as far as who is the best. I think that each team poses different challenges both as far as scheme, personnel. I firmly believe the SEC is the best conference and we play those guys week in, week out.
And I don't know if there's a best team that I could say that we played. I think that all of them have been really good and pose a lot of threats. And you can't ever be lax because each week you play great opponents. So I think that's kind of our mindset is I think that we're battle tested, but we know that Georgia is a very good opponent as well. So we have to prepare for them the same way we have for everyone else.
Q. How has Tua evolved over the season?
JONAH WILLIAMS: I think Tua is an obviously extremely talented guy who also works very hard, and it's a combination we love to have here at Alabama. We obviously have talent but talent can only take you so far if you don't work hard week in, week out. And I think that's what he's been doing.
I think he executes the offense extremely well. He's able to make plays happen and find open receivers and know how to distribute the ball in the scheme of our offense. And so it's exciting as an offensive lineman that we have somebody back there who can make the plays happen.
We're in a position to set him up to make the plays and when he's able to do that it's really exciting. I'm not a quarterbacks coach, so I'm not in a position to comment on his mechanics and the more finer details of this game. But it's obviously exciting with the points he's able to put up and the production he's able to have, working so well within our offense.
Q. When you look at Georgia's defense, what really jumps out at you as the biggest challenge for you guys?
JONAH WILLIAMS: I think the defense as a whole is a huge challenge, I would say, and how well-coached they are. You don't see a lot of mental assignments and busts on film as well as their talent level, I think that across the board there's not really a soft spot within their defense. And so that poses a lot of challenges for us as an offense, because it really comes down to us executing.
We obviously have talented guys, too, in a good scheme. But we know that we have to play our best game to be successful against them.
Q. Jonah, when breaking down this Georgia defense, how comparable is this Georgia defense to Alabama's defense?
JONAH WILLIAMS: I think obviously as far as scheme goes, Coach Smart having coached here, there's some similarities. I think that he's also three years removed, so it's not a carbon copy. And we're obviously three years removed with a few different DCs since his time here. So I wouldn't say it's identical in that sense.
But I do think there's some similarities. And the biggest thing is just the way that they play, the manner in which they play. I think that how well they're coached allows them to play very aggressively because they're confident within their scheme and they know everyone else is doing their job as well.
So I think that I wouldn't say that it's identical as far as scheme goes, but I think there are some similarities in which, the style they play.
Q. If you could, take me inside the huddle. What kind of huddle does Tua run, and is it always a serious huddle?
JONAH WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that when we're out on the field and everything, I think that it's all about execution. It's all about, there's not a lot of time for any extracurriculars when we're out there. But I think Tua is a good motivator.
Off the field he'll come up and say, hey, thanks for that protection there, that type of thing. It's always exciting to hear from the quarterback, when he's having success out there, giving credit to everyone else as well.
So I think when we're on the field it's obviously just executing the plays that are called. But off the field he's a good leader.
Q. Even before the quarterback controversy, with the quarterback controversy way back last winter, your coach said whoever is going to win that job has to win the locker room. Jalen had done it as a starter. How did Tua do it? Was that accurate? Did he have to win the locker room first?
JONAH WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think so. I don't think there's only one person that can win a locker room, per se. I think if you're going to be the starting quarterback, then you have to everyone's respect. And I think all our quarterbacks have everyone's respect from the locker room.
I think that Tua's obviously a likable guy, and he comes to work every day. Despite some of the stardom that he probably gets as far as attention from the outside, he doesn't really carry himself in that way. And as an offense, it's exciting to see the guy who is kind of at the lead of it to be working as hard as everyone else. So I think that that's one of the big ways that he's kind of one of the team is just his approach each day and just kind of how he leads us.
Q. How much does it help to win the locker room when you win the National Championship coming in and leading your team back?
JONAH WILLIAMS: Yeah, no, I think that certainly helps.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Quinnen Williams.
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: (Indiscernible). Georgia, they've got a great coaching staff. (Indiscernible).
Q. You've been pleased with it and also what do you think about Georgia's offensive unit and what you're going to have to do to contain them Saturday? How do you think your defense has played over the last three or four games? And also what do you think of the Bulldogs offense, and what do you think you'll have to do to contain them on Saturday?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: (Indiscernible) fast start like we want to. But we get (indiscernible). And we gotta come in and go full head of steam for this SEC game. We're preparing for it now.
And looking at the Georgia offense, they've got a great running scheme and great quarterback that led their team to the national championship last year. He came back, he's doing very well this year. And a great offensive line up front starting with their center, he's very good and a great run game with the running backs that they have.
Q. Could you talk about Mack Wilson's influence on the defense as you guys got better and better as the season progressed?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: Him and Dylan Moses both, man, great effort, him and Dylan Moses, being leaders on the defense. And it's just a tribute to them, with their leadership-wise, the people who came before them and the people who are looking up to those guys, they've been leading the defense well, giving the calls and making sure the defense is playing it straight.
Q. Quinnen, can you estimate how many snaps you might have got in the championship game against Georgia last year? And did you expect that you might make this kind of impact once you started to get as much playing time as you've gotten?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: Last year, in the Georgia game I think I got, like, one snap. And this year, (indiscernible) I've been trying to do my part, do what I'm supposed to do for the defense, just execute to my abilities.
Q. And you mentioned the center for Georgia, Lamont Gaillard. What in particular impressed you when you watched film?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: Just the way he come off the ball, the strength that he have in the run game, and just the overall smartness that he have. He played, started last year in the championship game, and he blocked -- had the block, big tackle blocking Da'Ron Payne. He's a very good player, smart up front, lead the offensive line, make all the calls and stuff like that.
Q. I was wanting to know where you think you've gotten improvement-wise? Where do you think your strength is this year, and where do you think you need to get better moving forward?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: My strength is just breaking down the offense film-wise, so I can know what's going to come in the game. Just game-wise, I look at the offense and formations and stuff and break down like the play before half and that's one of my strengths I have.
I have a lot of things to work on. But the main one is being patient. Like sometimes I overplay my duties and overdo what I'm supposed to and it bites me in the butt because the running back will cut back or the quarterback will step up in the gap that I was supposed to being pass rushing in. So that's a big one.
Q. And in terms of Tua leader-wise, even on the practice field, how much does Tua make the defense better on this football team?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: He's the best in the country. So he challenges us to get out there and discourage them. He challenges the defensive backs to cover the receivers. So the whole offense in general challenges the defense. I feel the whole defense challenges the offense. And it goes hand in hand, the competition.
Q. On social media today and yesterday Terrell Lewis and Mack Wilson teased a potential comeback for Terrell Lewis in this SEC Championship game. How big of an impact would he make on this game and is he returning?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: I really don't know about what's going on with social media with them. I haven't seen it. But if he do, he do it -- I don't really know right now.
Q. If he does come back, how big of an impact would he make on this defense?
QUINNEN WILLIAMS: I don't know if he going to come back or not. I don't know if, like -- it's up to the coaches, up to the training staff, up to them. So I can't answer that for you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Tua Tagovailoa.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: This is the new year. This is a new team. There's new challenges that we're faced with. We do understand that this is a really, really good defensive team. They're really good offensively as well. They run a lot of things similar to what our defense runs. So with that being said, we're looking forward to the challenges that we're about to be faced with this Saturday.
Q. A year ago, before there was any controversy, a quarterback controversy, your coach said that if you got the job, you're going to have to win the locker room. Is that accurate? How did you go about doing that?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Well, I don't know if it was as accurate, but what I can tell you is I just was myself the entire time throughout that entire process. So ain't nothing -- there's nothing much that has changed.
Q. Last night I asked Coach Saban about your slow starts the last couple of games, and he said he wasn't too happy with it. But of course you played great the second half. Can you maybe put your finger on maybe just a little slow start against the last two teams you've faced?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Well, yeah, I think first off, if you look at the beginning of the season, we started fast, but we didn't finish as well. And I think it's because we've been up so much.
You look at the second half of the season, I mean, we're starting slow now. But we're finishing strong. It's one of those things where you've got to pick and choose. And I think for us, offensively, we need to execute better and in order to do that it starts with practice, with how we go back our business in practice.
So this is another opportunity with this game for us to go out there and try to do it. Try to start fast and finish strong.
Q. What is your opinion of the Georgia secondary, what you've seen of them so far?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Well, they're a really good secondary. I mean, I know one of their guys, No. 18, he played last year as well. But aside from just their secondary, they have a really good front seven. I mean, they have really good coaches to back all of that up.
So, this is going to be a 60-minute fight. This is going to be a really good game.
Q. How do you think you've grown as a quarterback as the season has progressed?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think a lot of what I've been doing is a testament to our coaches. And Coach Enos has been doing a really good job with us in the quarterback room. And Coach Locksley has been really attentive to how he calls his plays with what I'm good at doing.
And I think a lot of the things that I think I've been doing well, first off, is taking what the defense gives us now. And I think it's also distributing the ball to just more than one person as well.
Q. Looked like over the weekend you weren't wearing the knee brace. Were you more comfortable without it? Did you feel you were moving better?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I feel like it was kind of a hindrance. But the doctors wanted me to use it just to protect my PCL. But I told them if it would be possible that we could take it off just because my mobility with it on isn't the same. We got to taken it off and it does feel a lot better.
Q. Do you plan on wearing it this weekend?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Not at all. No, sir.
Q. Jake Fromm talked today about your friendship. How did, actually, his decommitment and flip to Georgia affect you; would history have changed if he had stuck with Alabama?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I'm not too sure. Honestly, I'm not too sure. I didn't know that Jake was committed here before I committed. And my father kind of implied that we should come here, too. So I thought it would be easier for us as a family to stay on the West Coast, but it was more so a family decision to come to the university and it's one of those things where it's cultural. So it's what my parents wanted more than what I wanted, you know? And it's worked out great.
Q. 11 months later kind of how that last play against Georgia kind of changed your world and the momentum it gave you heading into this season.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: So the last play of the game, last year was last year. We're just focused on what we can do as a team to accomplish the things we want to accomplish this year.
So it was awesome that we got the opportunity to do that last year. But we just move on from it.
Q. If you could, evaluate the offensive line for me this year. How well have they developed this year?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: They developed really well. If I got the opportunity to grade them, I'd give them probably 100 percent. They've been protecting me really well. I don't know how many sacks they've given up this year. But, I mean, as a quarterback, if I can't tell, then I think they've been doing a pretty good job.
Q. It's been a lot of focus has been on the month of November. How difficult was the month of November to go through this season?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: It's very difficult. It takes a toll on your body. And you do start to feel a little fatigue. But I think as a team we have things we want to accomplish as a team and we do have that in mind. So I think that's what keeps us motivated.
Q. When you came in at halftime last year against Georgia, how much of that was just instinct and going on adrenaline, and how much did you really have time to think about, okay, here's what has to be done? And how much have you changed since that game with the whole season under your belt?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I just came into the game thinking that it was another opportunity. It was an opportunity and I just thought that I needed to make the best of my opportunity. And I think we have improved and there's still work to be done.
Q. Would the Tua of 2017 have taken that sack against Georgia, versus the Tua of 2018? Because we know what happened afterwards. Would the Tua of 2018 have taken that sack against Georgia in 2017?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I mean, his name was Tua. My name is Tua. There's no difference. There's no change. I don't know. I don't know how to answer that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports