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January 7, 2012

Dont'A Hightower

DeQuan Menzie

Courtney Upshaw


THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower, and DeQuan Menzie.

Q.  Kirby was just talking about Coach Saban and how he demands accountability from everybody.  Is there something that each of you, if you could all three answer, that "In this game I must be accountable for" what?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  Me, personally, just keeping Jordan Jefferson contained, collapsing in the pocket as a pass rusher.
DONT'A HIGHTOWER:  One thing I gotta to be accountable is make sure everybody's on the right page, make all the calls up front as far as the "D" linemen goes, and then make sure on the back end with the secondary that everybody's all on the same page.
DEQUAN MENZIE:  One thing I gotta do is just keep the receivers cut off and just continue to do my job.

Q.  Dont'a, could you talk about Jefferson and the problems he presents?  He escaped a couple times the last game and kind of hurt you all getting out of the pocket.  Talk about him and running the option.  You've seen him for three years now, so you kind of know him.
DONT'A HIGHTOWER:  Jefferson, he's a very versatile athlete.  He's one of the reasons why they kind of changed things up and made a big play on us last game a couple of times.
But I think one thing we've got to do, like Courtney said, just keep him contained on the option, not let him be able to pitch the ball whenever he wants to, make him pitch it when we want him to.  And make him pitch it a little bit later so we have enough time to get all 11 of us over there to the ball.
As far as in the pocket, make sure he doesn't have anywhere to step up at.  Keep him in the pocket, make him throw the ball inside and not outside the pocket.  A lot of big plays he's had all year has been outside the pocket.  Whenever he's able to show his athleticism as a dual‑threat quarterback and scramble, he needs to throw it down field or take off running for 30, 40 yards.

Q.  Courtney and Dont'a, the guys who were in Pasadena two years ago, how does this experience compare to that?  Where is the team relative to two years ago?  Is it more intense?  Just your memories of that and how it compares?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  It's been a great experience being here in New Orleans.  We was here our freshman year for the Sugar Bowl and it didn't turn out well.  But to compare it to the '09 championship team, being in that game and being able to play a few snaps, it was great, but I would say that being able to‑‑ Dont'a will say the same; he didn't play in the game‑‑ that being starters on this team is that we want to leave our own legacy, you know, Alabama, come out with a win.
DONT'A HIGHTOWER:  I don't think I could sum it any better way than that.  Not playing in that game gives me a little more fire than I think everybody else.
And I can definitely speak on our behalf and the whole defense that we're all going to go out and leave it all on the field.

Q.  The SEC's going to win its sixth straight BCS championship this year.  First of all, why do you think that is?  How do you explain such dominance?  And then the second part of it is did you guys in your mind, as you were going through the recruiting process, just say I'm going to go to an SEC school?  How did that come about?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  Most definitely with me.  I mean, a lot of my offers were from SEC schools.  So my top three was coming in out of high school was known for getting to the championship, so I chose Alabama because of Saban.  That guy, he's been through a lot.  He's been through a championship game with LSU and to the league and stuff like that.
So I felt like my main thing was to get to an SEC school if I wanted to be remembered.  You know what I'm saying?
DONT'A HIGHTOWER:  I feel like the SEC won the national championship the last six years just because I feel like our coaches have a little bit more edge than other conferences.  I feel like the players are a little bit more versatile and athletic.  We don't find too many guys that weigh 260 pounds that can run a 4.6 or 4.5 in any other conference or guy that weighs 200 pounds that can bench press 500.
I feel all that kind of sinks in and that's one of the reasons why the SEC has won the national championship the last six years.
DEQUAN MENZIE:  Me personally, I didn't think I was going to get out of high school (laughter).  But right off the bat, my mom always been in love with Nick Saban, so, I mean, that's kind of one of the reasons why I came here, and watching Dont'a and Upshaw and all the other players play for that national championship in Pasadena.
But I didn't expect to get out of high school.  So it is what it is.

Q.  Courtney, can you kind of talk a little bit about your matchup with Chris Faulk coming off the edge in the ballgame and also how important is it for you guys to get a good pass rush Monday night?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  I expect that it's going to be a good fight.  I expect to get to the quarterback also, and I'm going to go out and do so.

Q.  What about Chris Faulk specifically?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  He's a pretty good guy.  He's talented.  One of the best I faced all year.  But, like I said, I got, you know what I'm saying, goals and determination to get to the quarterback.

Q.  This is for any or all of you guys.  Can you guys describe how much this season has meant to snapper Carson Tinker, especially with all that he's had to overcome in the spring with the tornadoes and the loss of his girlfriend?
DONT'A HIGHTOWER:  I feel like this season Tinker has stepped up and been our unsung hero.  I feel he's tried to lead as much as possible, even in situations where he felt he didn't have to or couldn't because nobody would listen to him.
But especially after the tornado and losing Ashley, I feel like he's put it on himself to bring back to the community of the University of Alabama, just all of Alabama, not just necessarily Tuscaloosa.
But I think he's done a real good job this season.  Not even just as a football player, just as being a man, taking on responsibilities and giving back to the community.

Q.  For all of you, can you describe the importance of your scout team and how well have they been playing in getting you prepared for the whole season and also for this game?
COURTNEY UPSHAW:  They've been doing a great job throughout the year.  I mean, trying to simulate other offenses and stuff like that.  Some teams and some players you can't simulate, but they try and they give us good looks.  And they are tough guys, too, in their own.  They go out and work just as hard as everybody else.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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