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January 8, 2022

Will Anderson Jr.

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Lucas Oil Stadium

Alabama Crimson Tide

Press Conference

Q. Can you talk about Alabama's, your strength against the run this year? And you in particular, how unselfish you have to be as an outsider linebacker, most (indiscernible) to rushing the passer, but you're pretty good against the runs?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: That's one of our goals on our goal sheet, we're really big on stopping the run, how many yards they get per game and holding them to a certain amount of yards. So I think, like, during fall camp, summertime, spring ball, I think that's where we get a chance where we just work on our technique, make sure we're shocking and shedding and getting off blocks the right way, everybody is staying in their gaps, because that's one of the biggest parts of our defense is stopping the run.

And every day in practice, we have to do drills to make sure everybody is using their hands and getting off blocks really well. That's one of the biggest goals we have. So I think we've been doing a really good job this year at stopping the run and we just want to keep carrying that over into this game.

Q. Whether it's this year or last, what is the best piece of advice you've received from Coach Saban that will stick with you for the rest of your college career?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: The best piece of advice I received from Coach Saban will probably be just facing adversity, never giving up. No matter how hard something gets, keep fighting to the end. Don't let it control you. Don't let it get too overwhelming or put too much pressure on yourself. Just go out there and have fun. And whatever happens, happens.

Q. Before the Cincinnati game a lot was made about your comments about being the underdog. Is that the same mentality you take into this game? And how does the Alabama program even maintain that philosophy given all the success the program has had?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: Again, Alabama does have a lot of success, but I was speaking generally when I said over the course of the season, but us being underdogs, us not being respected and people saying we wasn't an elite team. And I think that just fuels everybody up because we know how hard we work, we know what type of team we have.

And it's going to be the same to the end of the season, which is coming up. So we're keeping that same intensity, same energy. What everybody was saying about us, we were just going to keep it using it as motivation because we know what type of team we are. We know what we put in day in, day out and how we prepare and how we play.

Q. It's been quite a journey to see you turn into one of the leaders on the team this year. As a sophomore, you won it all last year, but overall after this year's all said and done, what is a successful season for you?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: A successful season for me is winning the national championship, making sure that we're up on that stage -- all my brothers, coaches, families, everybody. We're celebrating all the hard work we put in this whole season. That's what a successful season is to me.

Q. What can you say about Pete Golding as defensive coordinator, just what he's meant to you and how he's really commanded the best out of you in your career at Alabama?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: I have so much respect for Coach Pete. He does an outstanding job, from going to high school, having a good DC and coming to college and having a good DC. And building that relationship, it's been really good.

He has a lot of respect for me. I've learned so much from Coach Pete from my freshman year to this year and so much more through the defense by him helping me, just moving me around some, doing different things, stuff like that.

He's done a great job this year. I'm so happy to have him as a coach and blessed. And he does a really good job making sure that we're all on the same page. We know how to fit things, where somebody's coming down at. So he does a great job of making sure we're all lined up and making sure we're all on the same page.

Q. What's your favorite part about playing alongside Phil Mathis, DJ Dale and all the other talented guys you guys have along that defensive line?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: It means everything. It's so much fun. I have to give those guys a lot of credit because they give me so much energy when I watch them play. Before the game I swear I always to myself, I say, your brothers are out there with you. Look at Phil, he's right beside you. Look at DJ, he right there beside you. Look at Dallas, he right there beside you.

And that givers me a little bit of confidence, too, because when you have other great players out on the field with you, it gives you a little bit of confidence boost. And I love playing with those guys. They bring so much energy to the defense, especially Phil.

I swear Phil rubs off on me. He gives me so much energy on the field. When he make a play, I make a play or I make a play, he makes a play. Every time we both make plays we're right there together celebrating. I'm so happy and so blessed to be playing besides some guys like that that are really talented and really good.

Q. Having played in the national championship as a freshman, what did you learn most from that experience or what are you taking into this to do differently than the first time around?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: Probably paying attention more to the details. I think last year, as a freshman, you really don't have the type of focus that you have when you mature a little bit. So probably paying attention to the details, making sure I'm lined up right, making sure I'm not having any mental errors or anything like that, making sure I'm getting the calls. I think that was one of the biggest things last year was getting the call getting lined up right.

That's the experience I have now taking to, like, the national championship game. And have that experience under my belt to help me more.

Q. You've obviously been a leader for this team but guys like Phil Mathis, Brian Robinson, fifth-year seniors who are playing in their fourth national championship game. How much do you look to those guys for advice and how much have those guys meant to the team this season?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: They've meant everything to the team. I don't get to talk to B-Rob like that. But he's been outstanding this year. He's been a vocal leader to us. He's been through so much, as well as Phil has seen so much. They've been able to help us along the way.

But all practice long, I've been on Phil, like, Phil, we've got to get you one more before you go. I'm really big on that. When I was in high school, I was tight with one of the other senior D tackles. We've got to get you another one.

That's the same feeling here. All week I've been, like, Phil, we've got to get you one before you get out of here. That's just been the type of energy we've been having around the program right now these last few practices and making sure everybody's on the same page, so we can get the job done and get these guys out of here the right way.

Q. I saw that Dutchtown High School said Monday will be Will Anderson Day. What kind of support have you been getting from back home? And also have there been any friends or extended family that say, we're pulling for you, but team-wise we're rooting for the other guys?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: First of all, I want to start off by saying thank you to the Dutchtown community the Henry County, my Dutchtown family. I just want to say thank you so much for the support and love you've shown me over the season, my freshman year.

I couldn't have asked for a better support system back at home. I'm so honored and blessed for you guys to be making Monday Will Anderson Day back at home for me. I love you guys. Thank you so much.

And, no, I haven't anybody say they're rooting for me and Georgia. So I'm glad of that. And I'm very appreciative of that. But, again, thank you and I love you guys so much.

Q. A couple of the Georgia players we talked to an hour ago talked about how this time they're going to be different mentally than they were in Atlanta. What differences do you expect to see from a team that says that it will be mentally sharper this time?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: I think no game's going to be the same. What happened last game is what happened last game. We have to worry about what happens this game. And I can't really speak on what other teams think they have to do.

But I know as far as Alabama, we're just going to take the same preparation and the same way we do things from each game into this game and we're going to play to the Alabama standard and play Alabama football.

Q. How do you feel your strength and conditioning program will influence your guys' performance for this game against what is probably the best offensive line, the best and biggest offensive line in the nation? And also could you share a specific experience with your strength and conditioning coaches that you feel has impacted the team to be prepared for that?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: I think our strength and conditioning coaches do an outstanding job with us. Our last lift we just had we had a lot of people PR in the weight room. For it to be towards the end of the season to have those types of numbers with the type of season we had in the SEC, our SEC schedule and going against top talent and being able to still PR in the weight room, I think it's big. And it speaks volumes for the people working there.

Coach Ballou and Doc Rhea, they do an awesome job. As far as this game goes, we're more than prepared. They prepared us all season, during the season to help us during the season to make sure our bodies are right. They're not going to let anybody slip away.

The weight room numbers have been outstanding. They've been doing a great job. The team has been doing a great job lifting and maintaining weight. They have us more than prepared for this game. And like I was saying, they do a great job making sure everybody's weight is good.

Q. Bryce Young has a lot of success on the field, and with the Heisman, and you were a big person to pitch him for that. What is your confidence level with your quarterback going into the biggest game of his career on Monday?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: Bryce is a really great person. He's a really great athlete. I look up to Bryce a lot. I tell him all the time he's an inspiration to the team the way he prepares and the way he can talk to people in different ways.

For Bryce, I'm so excited for him. This is a big game. But I'm not going to put any pressure on him. I'm not going to sit up here and say he needs to do this and do this. I'm going to let Bryce go out there and play his game and be Bryce Young and help lead the offense like I know he will.

Q. You guys seem to be get really sharp defensively in the red zone, whether it's creating turnovers or just holding them to the field goals. What's been the secret to the success there in the red zone?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: I think it's the mentality you have to not let anybody score on you. Do not let anybody get into your end zone. So I think that's just where it comes from. It's our mentality on defense to not let anybody get into the end zone.

Q. I was curious if you have seen the social media phenomenon going on right now with the Karate Kid emoji that Jameson started and he's promoted with a photo of himself this week. Have you thought about that at all? There are thousands of fans who have that on the social media pages right now.

WILL ANDERSON JR.: I've been scrolling Twitter and that's all I've been seeing. I don't know too much about it. Everybody on the team does it, but it's like an offensive thing. So we just see them doing it but we don't know, like, what they have going on with it.

But on my TL, that's all I've been seeing. And I saw something like Gumpster [phonetic], something like that. I don't know the backstory of it. But I saw it on my TL -- I think it's really cool especially for something you do in a game and the fans take after it and they support you behind it.

And it grows on social media like that. And it just grows with the fans and they love it. And it shows you how much of a support system we have and a great fan base we have. So we appreciate those guys.

Q. I heard about a giraffe costume growing up. I heard about, it was mayonnaise and jelly sandwiches. Let me ask you what was the number one prank either pulled on you or by you growing up?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: Enough about what happened to me. I'm going to tell you what I did. So back at my home, one day we had a Sunday dinner after church, whatever like that. And my mom had made cornbread. Instead of making the cornbread in the squares that she used to do or the frying pan, she made it in cupcake holders. So we had some left over.

And I was telling my sisters, I said, hey, I'm going to bake some cupcakes, I'm going to get you all right -- we're going to eat good.

The next day I took the corn muffins, the cornbread, and I put icing on them because they was already cupcake form, I put icing on them and I put some sprinkles on them. I told my sisters, the cupcakes, y'all go down and get some if you all want to.

So all my sisters rushed down the stairs, they rushed down the stairs. And I swear all of them bit into the cornbread and they spit it out immediately. And they thought it was cupcakes. That's like one of the best pranks I did my sisters to me, because I really got them.

Q. You have had a dad who has motivated you and brought out the inner fire that usually doesn't end up great for the other team. How does he spark that inner fire in you in a national championship game?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: My dad he texts me all the time. He screams. Sometimes I can hear him in the stands, sometimes. I used to be able to hear my dad all the time in my high school.

But my dad, he doesn't get enough credit, but he's been so phenomenal in my life. He's taught me so much. Even though he was at work most of the time, just him calling me on the phone, making sure I'm good, making sure that my head space is in the right. He said use your hand and speed before every game, that's what he would call and tell me, text me, let me know. But I love my dad. He supports me so much.

He doesn't get enough credit, but he did an outstanding job raising me, and I have to give so much credit to him because I wouldn't be the man I am right now if it wasn't for him. So, yeah.

Q. You mentioned just Bryce being a good person and sort of knowing how to talk to people. I was curious if you have sort of an example or anything that sort of stands out to you from that this season?

WILL ANDERSON JR.: We have to (indiscernible) a lot of guys, sometimes when guys get out of hand or anything like that. It happens with all teams. As a leader you have different types of leaders. Everybody might not be able to get through to some people as Bryce can or I can.

But you may not know how to talk to this person you may not know what to say to this person. But Bryce always knows what to say to a player or a person no matter what they are, no matter what type of person they are, he knows how to talk to people really well. And I really feel like that's a nice gift to have. He's blessed, most definitely he's favored.

To be able to talk to people of different kinds, no matter what they're going through and be able to do that, that's really special.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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