AUBURN, Ala. — Alabama head coach Nick Saban took part in the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday.
Here’s what Saban had to say during his call with reporters, which lasted a little more than four minutes:
"We're really pleased with the focus our team has right now. I think everybody realizes that the Iron Bowl is always a significant game and this year it has even a little more significance. I think the thing that we want to do with our players is make sure that they're focusing on the right things, the things that they can control, the things that we can do to try to enhance playing good football. And that's certainly what we're trying to do.
I'd just like to take a minute to tell everybody out there, media and fans alike, Happy Thanksgiving. This is obviously a time when we give thanks for the great relationships that we have and the people that are close to our heart and all the good things that we have. Hope everybody has a blessed Thanksgiving.
On preparing for Gus Malzahn and Auburn's offense:
"It's difficult because they do a lot of multiples of things with a lot of different personnel groupings, a lot of formations, a lot of motions, a lot of adjustments, which I think is very challenging to the players. And they do all this fast and they execute it extremely well and they have good players. A combination of all these things make it a very difficult preparation.
"The only thing that's changed over the years is how he features the players that he has, which I think is good coaching. He may tweak what he does a little bit relative to the people that he has, which I think every offense should do. But other than that, I think fundamentally the plays that they run, the things that they do, they don't change dramatically."
On whether he sees influences of other types of schemes in Auburn's spread offense:
"There's no question about it. There's three-back runs in it. There's regular runs. The running plays don't change — how they get to them, how they block them, the scenario of people that they have that you have to key, that changes. They do have spread offense. But it's not a spread offense when they're in a lot of their basic formations, which are direct runs."
On the focus of Alabama's defensive staff this week:
"I think the No. 1 thing that you want to try to do is get your players lined up so that they are in position to key and react to the plays that they have to defend. I think when you try to get too complicated or too cute, that's when you make a lot of mental errors. When you make mental errors against this team, they make you pay, because there's a lot of ways they attack you on the perimeter as well as inside. So if you're not in the right gaps, you don't have the right run support, you're going to give up big plays. And then if you don't play the pass and the play-pass off of it, you've got the potential to give up big plays.
"I think having a simple enough plan that the players can adjust and execute and be in the right places is the most important thing, and you can't try to do too many things, because if you do, the multiples and the mess-ups start to accumulate on you."
On whether he views the "art of good coaching" as simplifying things for players:
"I don't think there's any question about it. Players having a good knowledge and understanding of what they're trying to do, knowing that they're probably going to do something a little bit different in the game, but we're going to have to adjust to it."