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January 3, 2010

Javier Arenas

Terrence Cody

Kirby Smart


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the Alabama defense. We have six members of the defense here today. We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Coach Smart, I've got a question for you, and if I could get an answer from Terrence to the same question. We've seen some opponents, some Alabama opponents that throw the ball so much, particularly with maybe three-step drops where it seems like it's difficult for Terrence to get involved because the ball never seems to be coming his way. Against Texas as much as they like to throw, do you see that possibly being an issue?
KIRBY SMART: Not really. I feel like Texas is a more balanced team than people give them credit for. They're pretty stubborn with the run. They want to at least keep the run threat there so you can't turn it into a pass rush game which for them wanting to stay balanced and try to run the ball. Coach Davis has always kind of been that way, and that allows Terrence's best assets to come out, which are to stop the run, push the pocket, knock balls down and do those kind of things. I'll let him answer the rest.
TERRENCE CODY: Well, just like Coach said, they are pretty much balanced and stuff. They don't do a lot of passing unless the run isn't working for them and stuff. But they try to establish the run.
And me working every day and stuff, working at my pass rushing and stuff, I believe I'll probably get a lot of chances to stay in most of the time during passing situations.

Q. Would you three guys all talk about the pressure Nebraska got on Colt McCoy and what you learned from that? Not that you'll tell us everything you learned from that, but...
KIRBY SMART: Certainly they did a great job up front. Nebraska didn't necessarily pressure a lot; they got pressure, but they got pressure with their front four guys and did a good job affecting the quarterback obviously, and Ndamukong was a great player, a dominant player, and played really well in that game. Their ability to get to him and stop the run is what made it a one-dimensional game, and when they made it one-dimensional, it made them more successful.
That's probably true with any team you play; you can be pretty bland and say if you make a team one-dimensional you're going to be pretty successful. Nebraska was able to do that, and we have seen that on tape.
JAVIER ARENAS: For like the secondary, which is who I watched in particular, they just did the job. If you watch the game, for the most part they had them shut down. Everyone did their job, and they had the key. They was dominant for the most part, so the results, you kind of see how it happened.
But it goes to show, if you just do your assignment, they can overtake everything else.
TERRENCE CODY: It's like Coach Smart said. Again, they weren't really pressuring, blitzing and all that, it was just getting a lot of pressure with their front four, especially up the middle where they was pushing the pocket up the middle and creating havoc, putting pressure on McCoy, so he was running outside the pocket, throwing bad balls and stuff. That's pretty much it.

Q. Kirby, do you ever feel like you don't get the respect that you might deserve because Coach Saban is perceived nationally as such a defensive whiz, and it seems like you do a great job, but the big guy gets all the headlines?
KIRBY SMART: No, I'm not a selfish guy. I'm not into all that. To be honest, I was fortunate enough this year to win the Broyles Award, so it's hard for anybody to argue that working for Coach Saban you don't get any credit. It's considered the Assistant Coach of the Year award, and I was able to win it while working for him. I don't think you could actually say that, nor have I ever thought you could say that. Will worked for him, Dom Capers worked for him, a lot of guys, Coach Steele, and nobody has ever really felt that way. He's very involved, but he's passionate about the game, and his passion carries over to the players.
I wouldn't want it any other way. It's like having an extra coach. So if you can get an extra coach to help your side of the ball, why wouldn't you use it? That's kind of the way I've always felt about it.

Q. Coach Smart, going back to your Georgia days, how much do you know Will Muschamp and can you talk about that a little bit?
KIRBY SMART: He's a real close friend. We played together at Georgia, and when I got through playing, I didn't have a job and I was kind of working as a GA, a part-time guy at Georgia, and he called me down at Valdosta State and said he wanted to interview me for the secondary job. Of course I jumped all over it and went down there and they hired me for $10,000 a year. I was actually making more as a GA at Georgia than I was at Valdosta State working for Will and Chris Hatcher. But they were both real good to me.
Will has been a close friend of mine, very close with his family. We spend time together in the summer. He got me to LSU. He and Coach Saban both brought me over there and interviewed me and Will really wanted me to come, helped me get the job. Been very good to me professionally and as a friend, and he's a great coach.

Q. This is for Javy and Terrence. What does Coach Smart bring to the table? What do you like about him? And perhaps if you're brave enough, what might you not like about him?
JAVIER ARENAS: Let me start with the positives.
KIRBY SMART: No personal attacks here, Javy.
JAVIER ARENAS: I think this question was asked last year. Just a lot of energy. For the most part when guys go out, I feel as though they go out and they've got to deal with coaches. We go out, he's like a teammate, you know what I'm saying? Talks to us like a teammate. He knows how to get to us in the most positive manner without us -- it's like a lot of vibe going on, even -- with Cody in particular, with our position coach in particular, but he can get to those guys, too, in a positive manner and just it's fun to be out there. You kind of look forward to it.
I think the most important thing is we know when to joke and we know when to draw that line and go to work, and I think that's why we've been so successful. We all recognize that and we all realize that. Like I said, it's just like going out there and having fun for the most part.
TERRENCE CODY: Well, Coach Smart, he's a real good coach, and he deserved that award this year. But he puts us in the right position when he calls those plays and stuff to make plays and dominate in the game and stuff. For him to do that, he's a real good coach and a real good -- what's the word I'm looking for? I mean, he gets us hyped up before games and stuff. The night before games when he gives us a speech and stuff, he gives us a lot of motivation coming into the game, and that's what really makes us play hard.

Q. Coach, back to Will, coaching against a guy that's such a close friend, is that kind of the best and the worst of times all together?
KIRBY SMART: Yeah. That makes it a little tougher when you know that somebody is going to come out on the back end of the stick and makes it tough. But also as competitors, you want it that much more because you recognize and know the guy you're going against and you know you're going to see a lot more of him in the off-season. You talk to him all the time. That's probably been the biggest struggle for me is from week to week we talked about ideas, and as the season grew, you kind of saw things headed that direction and it slowed up, slowed up to absolutely not talking now. You lose a friend during all this stuff, but it's been interesting.

Q. Kirby, you're still a young guy, but do you ever worry about being like a Mickey Andrews where you're a defensive coordinator your entire career? What are your aspirations? What are your goals in terms of becoming a head coach?
KIRBY SMART: To be honest with you, I don't ever think about it or worry about that. I think Mickey Andrews had a hell of a career. He's a father figure to me. I worked for him for two years, and if I ended up coaching at Alabama for the next 30 years or however long I think he was at Florida State, I'd think my career was a pretty big success, to have two National Championships and that kind of thing.
No, I don't get concerned with it. My lifelong goal was to ultimately be a defensive coordinator, and if I ever got a chance at a head job, that would be great. But that's not something that I'm going to draw my career and say I was a failure, I didn't get to be a head coach or whatever. I'd be completely content with that. If a better opportunity presents itself, then obviously that's something down the road. But young as I am, I'm happy to be where I'm at and happy to be at University of Alabama.

Q. Javy, can you talk about how many offers you got coming out of high school, and can you talk about how maybe that kind of fueled your fire when you were playing for Alabama to I guess kind of show people what they missed out on? And then if Kirby could talk about Javy and what he brings to the table.
JAVIER ARENAS: Well, out of high school, I mean, I had probably like three solid offers, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, and I guess here the last week of the signing process. I never really thought about it giving me motivation, because regardless, I was going to go out there and give it my all, whenever I was working on the football field.
But it was a stressful process for me because I felt as though I deserved to be somewhere decent, not that those schools aren't decent, but I felt that I deserved a little better. And when I got the opportunity to come up here, I think that's why I worked so hard because I seen that little window of opportunity, and I threw myself in it. I exert myself every day when I go out. I guess you could say that's my motivation, the opportunity.
I don't think about who didn't recruit me because that's negative thinking. That's playing mad. I don't think about that. I think about the opportunity and the advantage I've taken so far and how long I'm going to continue to take advantage of it. It's proof that I can do it when there's a shot given, and just take full advantage of it, once again.
KIRBY SMART: About Javy a little bit, he and Cody both are special, special players. Javy is one of the best I've ever seen as far as going out in practice, competing. He is the most competitive individual, and this is kind of the same question we got last year when they were asking about Javy, but he's taken it to another level this year. He's more of a leader. He goes out to practice and every day he competes like it's his last day. You think back to the game that he ended up not being able to play, I think it was South Carolina, he's in practice and he tries to run over DJ Fluker in practice, who is the largest human being on our team. Javy thinks he's bigger than he is, which makes him the greatest player that he can be. He tries to run over guys, he tries to hit guys. He's one of the most physical and competitive people.
I can't say enough about him. That's why it's easy for him to play on Saturdays, because he plays on Saturdays just like he did yesterday at practice. Yesterday was his National Championship game. He ain't letting anybody catch a ball on him, and he's one of the most competitive, fun people to be around. That's a credit to his character and his work ethic.

Q. Coach, you used the term stubborn. Sometimes with the Texas running game and then Terrence, you talk about the fact that they're going to pass when they can't run. Do you think you have a beat on what they're going to do, and you feel pretty good about it, or do you expect the unexpected?
KIRBY SMART: I always expect the unexpected, that way when it comes, it wasn't unexpected. They do a good job changing things up, and you talk to people in our league, you talk to people around them, they say that they're an execution team, they're going to run their offense. That's true, but everybody is going to have a new wrinkle. They're going to do something to hurt us and we're going to do something to hurt them.
That's the way football coaches are. All of us are copycats. You go back throughout the season and there's plays we've given up where they probably think they're a good idea to run them, even though they're not in their offense. We see things people do against them to hurt them. So as coaches you're always playing a chess match of I've got to do and be ready for anything. That's the way we are. Certainly I can't sit here and tell you what they're going to do. We're going to have to adjust. That's part of the game plan. That's part of the gamesmanship of the game.

Q. If we could get Kirby and commenting on Terrence, where would this defense be without him?
KIRBY SMART: It would be a lot less where we are in rushing defense, I can guarantee you that, because when he's not in there, it makes a big difference. It's not that he's not a good pass rusher; he is. But the fact that he doesn't get an opportunity a lot of times and your ability to sub and put guys in and out and substitute guys, he hasn't been there as much, but we would not be as effective a running team. When you watch teams and you talk to other coaches after you play them, you talk to other SEC teams, they just can't get movement. Running game is about movement. If you can move people, you create space. And there is no space created when Cody is in there, and that's what he does best for us. He's that, and a lot of the players have confidence in him, and they enjoy playing behind him because people like Ro and Reamer get to run around when you play behind Cody.
JAVIER ARENAS: I think when you've got a guy like him up front, it changes everything for everybody, for the opponents, you've got to go to different things, and for us, it makes it a little bit easier for us. You know, just him being there week in and week out, you kind of get used to it and you kind of get used to everybody else adjusting instead of trying to run up the middle and shove it down your throat. So it's good to have him up there. I don't know what it would be like without him, honestly.

Q. Kirby, along those lines, what have you seen teams try to do? Everybody has got a way of attacking the nose tackle, but when you have an exceptional one like that, have you seen teams do radical things to try to get him out of there?
KIRBY SMART: I wouldn't say radical. We've had a few teams try to scheme block him or try to whammy him or do different things where they create a blocking scheme to take advantage of him. Some teams try to screen him. Texas is a good screen team. We're going to have to play the screen. That's what Greg Davis has always done. They want to screen to try to create space plays, that kind of stuff.
But at the end of the day, they have to change what they do or they have an inability to run the ball, any team we play; I'm not talking about Texas. It creates an advantage for us. We're able to play more coverage, less man-to-man stuff, and that creates an advantage. So I think he gives us that. But we have seen some teams do different things to try to make loose and space plays, that kind of stuff.

Q. For Kirby and Terrence, now that you're out here, obviously the hype machine has kind of dialed up a little bit. Coach, how are the players handling needing to just win a game? And Terrence, how are the players realizing if you win it, it's for the National Championship and not trying to look too far ahead into that?
KIRBY SMART: I think first off, handling just one game really our entire season has been just one game because as coaches, you're constantly fighting the battle of looking past anybody and playing one game at a time, one game at a time, which is kind of a cliché. But we've used it all year, and our kids are that way. They don't look past this game. It's a big one, but it's no different than the first one we played, Virginia Tech, as far as national exposure, Florida. All the games we've played have kind of been that way for us, the big games. This is another one of those where both teams are going to strap it up and go out there and play, and you don't want to go out there with a whole lot of anxiety because of the environment. We do a pretty good job of the mental conditioning part of that for our players.
TERRENCE CODY: Just like me and probably most of the other players on the team, it feels like most of us are still in shock that we're playing for the National Championship because we came a long ways after the loss in New Orleans to Utah and going through spring practice, going through summer conditioning and camp, and then for the first game with Virginia Tech, we came a long ways, and it's still hard to believe that we're up here in California practicing getting ready for the National Championship.
Just like Coach said, we're going to take it just like we have this whole year, one game at a time and stuff, but like still hard to believe we're up here about to play for the National Championship. If we win, we played hard, and it's a great opportunity to do something good for us and ourselves, especially for the school, and to bring in recruits and stuff in the future.

Q. Terrence, how do you affect the game in a way that doesn't show up in personal statistics?
TERRENCE CODY: I mean, just like -- well, they told me what Rolando said. If you take his tackles and add them with mine, that's pretty much what my statistics would be. But I mean, I know I don't make a lot of tackles and all that stuff, which I'm not selfish and stuff. I mean, I know I'm giving other players opportunities to make plays and stuff, and that's pretty much what our defense is based on for the front; take on blockers and give the other players like the linebackers and DBs and make plays. So we pretty much -- they pretty much feed off of us for us taking on blockers and making plays.

Q. You can be honest with us, is your dream really to play fullback full-time?
TERRENCE CODY: No. I play a little quarterback. I throw the ball a little bit. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, folks.

End of FastScripts

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