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December 1, 2018

Nick Saban

Josh Jacobs

Jalen Hurts

Atlanta, Georgia

Alabama - 35, Georgia - 28

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Quarterback Jalen Hurts. MVP running back John Jacobs. Coach, we'll ask you for an opening comment, and then we'll take questions.

NICK SABAN: I guess that I can say wow. I think our players deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the resiliency they showed in the game, the competitive spirit. They never gave up in the game. They kept fighting.

We didn't obviously play our best game, especially in the first half in terms of execution, but you can't fault the heart and the will to win that the guys played with. I'm proud of every one of them. I'm very proud of Jalen, who got an opportunity at the end of the game. I told him, this is your time, and he certainly took advantage of it. Josh has played well for us all year long.

But this was a great team win. I think the other thing is people have to give Georgia a lot of credit. They really played us better than anybody's played us all year. We played in a game here where we won 32-28, when we played Notre Dame in a National Championship Game, and Georgia was the best team. They were -- they deserve to be in the Championship Game. Based on the team that we've played this year, I think this team deserves to be in the playoff as well. I sure as Hell don't want to play them again, but that's the best compliment I can give you or give them.

Their players did a fantastic job. They had a good plan, and we had to make a lot of adjustments in the game, and I think our coaching staff did a good job as well. So it's a great win. Winning the SEC is something that's really significant to me. It means a lot to our players. This is a great league. It has tremendous amount of prestige and great fans, and our fans were certainly helpful and instrumental in helping us get the momentum of the game late in the game. So we certainly appreciate that. So great win.

Q. Coach Saban, only giving up one touchdown in the second half defensively, what adjustments were made at halftime, Coach?
NICK SABAN: Well, they had formationed us in a couple things that confused our players a little bit, and sometimes when your players get confused, then they're confused on the things that they did practice. So I think we just needed to get everybody settled down, and making the right adjustments, and I think we played a little better in the second half because of it.

We still gave up a couple big plays, but they missed a field goal and only scored one touchdown, so that was really good. Uncharacteristic for us to drop as many balls as we did today, throw interceptions like we did today, but we kept fighting in the game and really proud for that.

Q. Coach, what are some of the things you try to tell your team at halftime, not schematically or something, but just about the intangibles? Did you see that fourth down play on some of their films when they tried to go for it on fourth down? Did you see that?
NICK SABAN: Not that particular play, but they had faked a couple of times. They were screaming on the bench the formation they were in, the second guy was eligible. We were afraid we weren't going to get them covered up, but we did.

We were in punt safe, so we had the defense out on the field. You know, most of the time when you leave your defense out there, you can defend most of the fakes, and our guys did a good job. It was a big play in the game because it gave us really good field position, and it allowed us to score the winning touchdown.

Q. For all of you guys, what -- I think before this, the closest margin of victory you had in a game this season was by more than three touchdowns. What does going through a game like this do for the team going forward?
NICK SABAN: Well, I always tell these guys we don't look at the scoreboard. We're all trying to play our best, be our best, play the next play, be the best version of yourself. That's what creates the most value for us. So hopefully, they play that way all the time because the score really doesn't matter. When somebody looks at you and evaluates you as a player, they don't put the scoreboard up to determine how you were playing, they just watch you play. So why should that matter what the score is?

I do think there's lessons to be learned in terms of technical aspects of clock management with some of the things we had to do to get back in the game and to go down and win the game. But we've been in games like that before, and we've played in big games before. So we've got a lot of lessons to learn in this game, but a lot of them are just basic execution. And the message that I gave our players going into this game was, look, we have to focus on what's in front of us. Don't make the game too big. Don't worry about winning the championship. Worry about executing -- next block, next catch, next play, and execute. That's what we did not do very well in the first half.

THE MODERATOR: Jalen? Competitiveness of the game and being a tight game throughout.

JALEN HURTS: What Coach said.


JOSH JACOBS: Our goal as an offense is always to score one point more than the opponent. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. We knew throughout the week, so we grinded throughout the week to practice for that. So basically just preparation.

Q. Jalen, tell me, what does it feel like for you to be there and handle the situation that you did all year long and then have this opportunity to come out? What does it feel like to be able to contribute to this victory for you today?
JALEN HURTS: It kind of feels like I'm breaking my silence. I haven't said anything all year, but this team has worked really hard. In the off-season last spring, we know what adversity looks like. Sometimes we're going to get hit in the mouth, but we know that we're going to be fine. We did a great job of getting it done today. I think we did a great job of doing that.

Q. Josh, you've had a lot of great games this season that maybe flew under the radar. Tonight you were recognized as one of the greatest on the field. Do you feel as if tonight was your best game of the season?
JOSH JACOBS: No, definitely not. It's crazy because all y'all think about the plays that I made, and all I can think about is the plays that I didn't and the assignments that I missed. Each day I try to improve on that, so coming tomorrow, that's the thing I'll look at the most.

Q. Nick, do you believe Georgia is worthy of a playoff spot?
NICK SABAN: Well, I commented on that before, but yes, I think based on what I've seen, they're one of the four best teams in the country. And I also said I don't want to play them again, which is the ultimate compliment, I think, that I can give them.

The players play hard. They're well coached. They've got a good system. Look, we've got a good football team, and they gave us a lot of problems out there today. If that's any measure, if you lose by seven points to the No. 1 team, you shouldn't slip too far.

Q. Coach, the young man next to you was just asked about himself, and he said we and the team, sort of indicative of all year. What does it say about him that he stuck to the program and came through for the team?
NICK SABAN: I've probably never been more proud of a player than Jalen. It's unprecedented to have a guy that won as many games as he won, I think 26 or something, over a two-year period, start as a freshman, only lose a couple games this whole time that he was a starter, and then all of a sudden he's not the quarterback. How do you manage that? How do you handle that? You've got to have a tremendous amount of character and class to put team first, knowing your situation is not what it used to be, and for a guy that's a great competitor, that takes a lot. It's not easy to do.

And he's always put the team first. He's gone in the game whenever we've asked him to go in the game. We played him as much as we could so that, if this came up, he was going to be ready. I think it worked out great, and I think this is a great example of why guys don't need to run off and just transfer every chance they get or every time something doesn't work out.

Jalen is going to be a more successful person in his life because of what he went through, not winning 26 games, but what he went through this year trying to be the kind of person who had to support other people after he was a star player.

Q. Coach, in the first half we saw Jalen come in, take a snap, and on the very next play, swing out, I believe it was a slot, and he ran a route. If the situation wasn't the same in the second half, would we have seen more of that?
NICK SABAN: I really don't understand your question.

Q. The game plan with Jalen swinging out as a receiver or even taking the occasional snap as he did one time in the first half. Would we have seen more of that in the second half if --
NICK SABAN: It was our plan to do that in the game because there were some plays that we thought Jalen could run at quarterback because he does some things better than Tua. So we put them both in the game at the same time so they don't know which one's going to end up being quarterback. So that was a part of plan. We just never got back to it or couldn't get back to it after Tua got hurt.

Q. Coach, how's Tua?
NICK SABAN: Tua actually sprained his ankle in the first half, actually came back and played. The other injury, he got stepped on, his foot, which I don't think is significant. So we're going to evaluate his ankle tomorrow, but I don't it's going to be something that would keep him out. Maybe for a little while, but we probably won't practice for a couple weeks anyway. But we'll know more about that tomorrow.

Q. Josh said it was not his best game. Do you agree with him?
NICK SABAN: Look, I don't ever criticize players in public and never to the press. I think Josh has done a great job for us all year long. I would make a general statement, which I made to the team that I don't think we played our best game, and when it just comes to execution, doing the right things, making the right adjustments, not making a lot of mental errors. So there's a lot to be learned from that.

And I think we're going to try to use those lessons, and I liked Josh's comment about I'm going to look at the things I need to do better. That's kind of what we need our players to do. It's not always good when you play bad and win because sometimes people aren't thinking I've got to do something different. So it speaks volumes when we win and our players still think they have to make improvements and things because they recognize the fact that they could have played better.

Q. Jalen, on the go ahead touchdown, I wonder if you could just take us through what was supposed to happen. Was it a run all the way? Whatever the situation was, and then ultimately you got in the end zone.
JALEN HURTS: Well, I had an option, had to find my movement key and see what would trigger the decision I'd make. My guy went out, so I took it in and had really good open lanes and found a way to get in the end zone.

Q. Do you think it was your running game that allowed you all to hang around in that first half and into the third quarter when you were a little behind? How effective was the ground game that allowed you to stay in it even when Tua is struggling in the pass game?
JOSH JACOBS: I think it was more just execution. We were executing our runs a little better today than we normally do. That was probably the biggest thing, the big run I had just sparked the emotions of everybody and just allowed us to go on the run we did.

NICK SABAN: Thank you to the press for helping to reinforce a lot of these positive things for the players. Thank you so much.

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