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January 3, 2010

Rolando McClain

Cory Reamer

Lorenzo Washington


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our second half of today's interviews up here. We will go right to questions, so raise your hands.

Q. Cory and Ro, what does Kirby Smart bring to the team? What do you like about him?
CORY REAMER: You know, the one thing that he brings to each practice and every day that we work is his attitude to go out there and get better. You know, you can't find a lot of coaches that go out there with a sense of urgency that he has and really encouraging us to perform at our best. You know, also what he brings is Coach Saban has got a great defense, but he does some things that change that up for us. He just has another eye to look at things to really see how we can tweak things a little bit differently to make it better. He's got a great mind just kind of like Coach Saban does, very defensive minded. But the spirit that he brings to the team is probably bar none.

Q. Would you guys talk about the pressure Nebraska got on McCoy and what you maybe -- give us a little hint what you learned from it.
LORENZO WASHINGTON: Nebraska, they kept the pressure on Colt McCoy the entire game. It wasn't just Suh. He had an outstanding game. But the whole Nebraska defensive front, obviously they just made a commitment before the game that they just weren't going to be stopped, and they weren't stopped that day at all. No matter if it was stunts, four-man pressures, blitzes, they would just get back there and they was making plays all day long.

Q. Ro, you've faced some running quarterbacks, Tebow, et cetera, but Colt McCoy, maybe it's just me, but he seems faster than a Tebow maybe because he's smaller. Your comments on him and what kind of dangers he might present to you?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: Colt McCoy is a very good athlete, and we just have to know who has the quarterback on every down. I mean, I think we're pretty confident in it, we just have to keep pressure on him as well as contain him, just like we did Tim Tebow in the last game. He's a very good guy, and he makes plays not only with his feet but with his arms, so we just have our work cut out for us, and we just have to play assignment football.

Q. For any of the players who has an opinion on this, Coach Saban has talked about the need to eliminate clutter and the ramifications of this game, the fact that it's for the National Championship, just focus on every play. Is that easier said than done, or how do you do that?
CORY REAMER: Yeah, I think it is. It's definitely difficult with as much as we've got going on, having to travel out to California, a lot of the media building up this David-and-Goliath story that they're always talking about and then coming out here and having everybody talk to you about being in the National Championship game. I mean that he did a great job of kind of squashing those stories from the beginning as soon as the SEC Championship game was over. He knew exactly how we were going to be try to set up, and he really did a good job of making sure we didn't fall into that.
We've really stayed focused on each practice, getting out there and getting our work in and really focusing on what we need to do to get better each day instead of looking forward to what's at the end. We've really kind of done a good job of focusing on the process.

Q. For Ro and Cory, how does Cody affect the play beyond individual statistics in ways that you can't find in a stat sheet?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: He just does a great job of demanding a double team, and that gives me, Cory and I, an opportunity to run around and make plays. If you watch film or you see statistically he doesn't have a lot of tackles, but he does so much more for this defense. He holds up offensive linemen so that I can run around and I can make those all those or Cory can make all those plays. He's done a great job up to this point in the season, and we're going to need him to do it one more game.
CORY REAMER: Just like what Ro said, when you've got two offensive linemen having to stay on him instead of being able to climb up to us, it makes it a lot easier for us to do our job. But it's not just one guy that does that. We've got four down linemen that do a good job of that, and they demand guys to stay on them and not be able to slip up to linebackers at all times. So whenever we don't have to worry about taking on those offensive linemen and get to the back faster, it makes our job a lot easier.

Q. Cory, Colt talked about his running, but he's capable of throwing 75, 80 percent completion. How does that kind of change things for a defense when you have a football that can be so accurate and so quick with the ball?
CORY REAMER: We always, as our MO as a defense, we've always talked about shutting down the run and defending the pass, and that's definitely going to hold true for this game because you've got a guy who can sling the ball around and make plays with his arms. The problem is he can run around and make plays on the run, too, so it's going to be up to us and our front seven to really keep him contained, not let him get outside or sit in the pocket all day because when you let him sit back there and just have free range, he can pick anybody he wants to throw it to and he can get the ball to them. He's got a strong arm and we're going to have to make sure we get to him fast, keep pressure on him and keep him inside the pocket to make sure he can't run around because he can make plays with his feet, too.

Q. For the guys, Kirby Smart talked about Javy Arenas and what he brings to the table. Every practice he said he's out there at full speed 100 percent playing like it's his last day. Can you just talk about what it's like playing with him and what he brings to the table in terms of motivating and getting you guys up?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: Javy is just a guy that you don't get too often, you don't get an opportunity to play with too often, and you can't be around him too often. He does a great job because in the locker room, he does a good job of getting everybody ready for practice, and then when you go out on the field, on the field you know he's 100 percent every play. No matter what's going on, no matter how hot, how cold, what's the circumstances, he's going to be going 100 percent. You can't coach that, and not too often do you get that. It's tremendous to this team, especially for me with calling the signals. He's a smart guy, so not only does he have the physical ability, he has the brain to help me out, make sure that the secondary gets the entire call. I mean, it's been a pleasure for me to have him play with me this year. I'm going to miss him after he leaves.

Q. For Cory and Lorenzo, can you talk about Rolando a little bit? He's a nice young man, a shy guy, but he's a monster on the football field. When did he come out of his shell as far as a team leader is concerned, and is there kind of a more outgoing side to him that we don't see?
LORENZO WASHINGTON: I think Rolando stepped up as a leader as soon as he stepped on the field as a freshman. He might not have been as vocal a leader by then, but his play, I don't think there's been a freshman defensive player that's played like he did in many years. You know, and he's continually stepped up his game, and this year he just came full circle this year. He put everything on his back, everything on his shoulders. He literally is the quarterback of the defense. He gets the front right, he gets the defensive backs right, he gets the linebackers right. And everything starts and ends with him, every play.

Q. Can you guys talk about the Southeastern Conference brawn against maybe the Big 12 finesse and maybe some of the differences you've seen?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: I don't think it's too much of a difference. At the end of the day, it's football. We're a very good team, and we're going to face a very good team. We just so happen we're known for stopping the run, and they're known for passing the ball and running the ball occasionally. So we have our work for out for us. They're a very good team or they wouldn't be playing this game. Coach says it's not about what they do, it's about what we do. We're going to play our type of football, and we'll just see the outcome.

Q. For anyone who wants to answer, does Texas offensively remind you of anybody you've played in the kinds of challenges they present?
CORY REAMER: I think that we've had some experience throughout this season with facing some spread teams, and we faced a good spread team last year in the Bowl game. You know, we faced Florida, who is technically a spread team, but they like to run the ball out of their spread offenses, and this is more of a passing first offense, kind of like Utah was.
We've had some good experience throughout this year of seeing good quarterbacks with strong arms, whether Mallet and Snead and all those guys. We've definitely faced some good quarterback talent, and we've faced some teams that have run similar types of offense, but I think this is definitely a unique offense that is fast paced and as quick as they like to get to the line and make defenses move at their tempo, and these guys have got a guy back there that really commands their offense, does a great job of getting everybody where they're supposed to be and getting the ball wherever he needs to get it to.

Q. Rolando and Cory, your thoughts about Jordan Shipley and what he brings to the table as far as coming across the middle.
ROLANDO McCLAIN: He's a great receiver. Obviously he's Colt McCoy's favorite receiver if you go by statistics. He's a great guy, he runs good routes and he's fast. We have to know where he's at, at all points of the game. If you look at it, we broke it down, especially on 3rd down, he likes to go to him. But when it's a 3rd down we're trying to get off the field, we have to know where he is at all points. We just have to do a good job of covering him.

Q. Rolando, Cory just mentioned the Utah game last year. How much does that memory stick in this team's mind in terms of how quickly things can go bad, and you don't want to revisit a Bowl game like that last year?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: I know it's been in my mind for a while and I'm sure it's been in other guys' minds for a while. It's last year and it's the past. You leave the past in the past. All you can do is learn from it and get better. I think we've had a great couple of weeks of preparation and a great couple weeks of practice. Like I said, the past is the past. We learned from it, and we know we have to come out with intensity.
This game is a little bit bigger than the other ones, so I think last year after we lost to Florida we kind of lost focus. We were all down, and our goal was to win the SEC Championship, and after we lost that game we knew our chances of playing in the SEC Championship were over, so I think we were a little bit down. We really weren't focused, and we looked at a Utah team, and we were like, it's Utah, and we weren't really ready to play.
But Coach Saban and the rest of the staff, they've done a great job to this point of getting us ready, so we're prepared, and I think we'll come out with a little bit more intensity, and it'll be a good game.

Q. The bubble screens that Texas runs, just your thoughts about their screen passes.
LORENZO WASHINGTON: The screen, it really starts honestly with the defensive line covering down because if the defensive line doesn't cover down, it doesn't give the linebackers and defensive backs time to react and see where the ball is, come to try to make a play on it. Also, I mean, you also don't want the screen to take the aggressiveness out of your rush because they do a lot of things like play passes or stuff that it looks like it's a screen or it looks like it's a run, and that gets the defensive line sitting on their heels or not rushing and being aggressive, and we need to make sure that we don't do that. We need to stay aggressive and just react to what we see.

Q. Rolando, I know you said in the other room you're a big film guy. You don't like to go out much. So are you happy going to Disneyland and that kind of stuff this week, or would you rather be back at the hotel watching film?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: Disneyland was good. I've never been to a theme park. I didn't go in and ride any rides, but I went to the ESPN Zone. That was a lot of fun. We had fun there.
Sometimes you just have to balance it out, football and just having fun, and I just had a good time with being around my teammates. Outside of my family, I don't want to be anywhere but with my teammates. I'm always relaxed and casual there.
Being able to get away from football for a while, I mean, it can be the best, because you don't want to be over-stressed with it. I just try to balance it out, and that was fun for me yesterday.

Q. Do you think Coach Saban is having fun this week?
CORY REAMER: Someone asked that yesterday while we were at the park, and the response was, "He doesn't have fun." But I think he's enjoying it. He does a lot more than we do as far as film and study and stuff like that. So I think he enjoys getting away just as much as we do every once in a while. I think he's enjoying -- luckily we're not having to do too much. We're not doing something all the time. It's just occasionally we get out and change up the schedule a little bit. Most of it is on your own time.
I think he enjoys the couple nights that we get to get away from the film. It was pretty funny when we were on the plane looking back and seeing him having a computer and watching film while we were flying out here. He's always working. That's the way he is, and it'll never change. If he had a choice to be at Disneyland or in the film room, I'm sure he'd probably say he'll be in the film room. But I think it was a good change for him, as well. I think he enjoyed the ESPN Zone and the parks, too.

Q. You guys talked about -- Ro, you just mentioned not being over-stressed by football. How do you keep from getting over-stressed, I guess, by the enormous pressure that comes with a game like this?
ROLANDO McCLAIN: You just have to be able to balance it. It's a tough job, and I think Coach has done a great job to this point. We know when you come to practice it's time to work, and that's what we do, we work. After, you can't just relax too much. I mean, being out here in California, I think where we're staying at there's not a lot to do. Not too much to do, not a lot of trouble to get into. So I think the guys have done a great job to this point of just when you're relaxing, relax, but also keep in mind that we're here for a reason; we're here to win the National Championship, and that's our main focus.
Before we left for California, Coach preached on that. We're here to win the National Championship, and after the National Championship you can go out and have fun as much as you want. But right now, this is the time for us to be focused. So we're just going to try to keep focused and get ready for our game.

Q. Can you guys comment on the storied traditions of the two teams, and what have your fans and boosters and other people been saying about the fact that it's been a while for Alabama but it's good to be back on top?
CORY REAMER: You know, I think both programs have had many years of success, and they've enjoyed a lot of time on top, and Texas probably has more recently than we have. But you know, I know the Alabama fans and everybody that's involved with this University is real excited to see us back in the Rose Bowl. I think it's been since 1926 since we've played in this game, and it's been 17 years since we played a National Championship game. To see things turn around, in Alabama there's not a professional team or anything like that, so this really is the following that they're concerned with. We're excited to be back here just as much as they are.
I know we had a lot of fans that have made this trip across the country, spent all kinds of money to get out here, do whatever they needed to to make sure they were attending this game. It means a lot to us to have people that really care about this program like they do, and we appreciate the fans that have shown up every Saturday no matter what time of the year it was, no matter if we were on probation and all that stuff, no matter what was going on with the program. We've always have fans that have been there and filled up our stadium. So it speaks a lot about how much those people love this University, and we're just proud to be out here representing them.

Q. Lorenzo, you touched a little bit on the restoration of the program in the room next door earlier, getting the program back up. Beyond the record on the field, what's the biggest difference pre-Coach Saban and now? Is it scheme? Is it intensity? Is it something else?
LORENZO WASHINGTON: I think it's a little bit of all those things. I think one of the biggest things is the players' attitudes on the team. We know we had a good attitude and stuff before, but Coach Saban and a lot of the coaches that we've had brought in just changed our complete mindset about football, the intensity that we go out there with and everything. You don't just get intense or get focused on football when you are out there practicing. You've got to do stuff before you get out there. You've got to take care of your body, all types of things, be mentally prepared for all that. I think they've done a good job of teaching us like the older players and continually teaching the younger players of how to become just a complete player and student-athlete all the way around.

Q. Cory, you've had some success obviously in the past at Hoover High, et cetera, but as far as Saban is concerned, what makes him such a big motivator? Not so much a coach, but I guess the theory is if he walked into the Pacific Ocean tomorrow, you guys would be right behind him. How have you bought into his deal, and what is it like playing for this guy?
CORY REAMER: You know, I don't think it's really anything in particular that he does or really says to motivate us. I think the fact that he demands so much out of us, it's kind of one of those things that you want to be -- you want to do as well as you can so that he's happy and everybody else is happy. It's one of those things he really doesn't have to go out there and give a big speech, say all kinds of things to try to get you motivated to play the game. We've really developed into a team that's wanted to play well for each other. You don't want to be that guy that lets the team town, and he really does a good job throughout the off-season of stressing all the work you're putting in now is for this team and it's for the guy that's standing next to you.
We've been through a lot, seen each other battle through the hard work during the off-season, during the summer conditioning and all that. Before games he does a great job of really kind of -- he does give the motivating speech and he does a good job of saying what this team -- what we've come from, what we've worked for, and like Ro said earlier, the fact that we always focus on this, it's all about us, and it's about what we do is really always his speech.
If we ever came into a film room on Sunday and saw what we messed up on or the great plays that they made, it was usually about what we did and how we messed up and not really about how they're just that much better. I think that was one of the main things he really instilled in us as a team is it's more about making sure we go out there and focus and prepare on the stuff that we've got to do to win games instead of worrying about other people.

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