Alabama coach Nick Saban was full of quips and quotes on his weekly appearance during the SEC coaches teleconference. There was a verbal love letter to the '23 team and even some friendly advice for his pal Dabo Swinney. Enjoy.

Opening statement

“We’re all about getting refocused for this game. Kentucky is a very challenging team. Very aggressive, tough on defense. Do a ton of stuff on offense. The quarterback is a good player. Running back is a good player. They’ve got really good receivers. This is all about getting yourself ready to play better, improve and execute when the game comes, and the way you do that is have really good preparation in practice.”

On Dabo Swinney’s comments about having an appreciation for winning

“I didn’t really hear what he had to say, so I can’t really comment on it. But the way I try to manage it is focus on the game that we’re playing, trying to get our team prepared to play the best that they can play. Don’t listen to the noise outside, whether it’s good noise, bad noise, rat poison, whatever.

"And try to keep our team focused on the task at hand, as well as you can have this go both ways. When you have success sometimes, you get complacent. When you get criticized, it’s frustrating. But the best thing I’ve found to do is just not listen to it either way and stay focused on what’s in front of you.

“I think that’s what you count on for your staff and the people who work in the organization, whether it’s how you try to psychologically prepare your guys to play to the standard that they need to play to to create value for themselves, as well as value for our team. And also all the coaches on the staff and individual players that you need to talk to on occasion to try to get them to stay focused. That’s a full-time job. Outside noise to me is, whether it creates expectation or is criticism, is really insignificant. I don’t know what some guy puts on the internet that’s sitting in his basement all day with nothing else to do, I don’t know what that means to us (laughs).”

On what he enjoys about coaching this year's team

“These guys have been really resilient. They really focused on improving. They’ve got really good togetherness. I think they enjoy each other, they enjoy being around each other and they get excited when they win. So it’s just a fun team to coach. I think that from the start, they probably had something they wanted to prove, and they worked hard to try to get to where we are right now. So now the question is can you sustain it and finish?”

On the improvement of the offensive line

“They played their best game in the last game, I think. They’ve improved all year long, and I think the chemistry has gotten better, the communication has gotten better and the technical execution has gotten better. I think if we can continue to build on that, that would be a positive for our offensive team.”

On Kentucky QB Devin Leary and his receivers

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“I think they’re really good players. I think they’ve played well all year long. They’ve got a very diverse group .[Wide receiver] Barion Brown is obviously a really good player. He’s a very fast guy. He’s a good returner, as well.

"Devin Leary is tough, competitive, a good passer, does a great job of managing and doing what he needs to their offense work, run and pass. The guy’s a really smart player and has done a good job of executing everything I’ve seen all year long.”

On what’s different about a Mark Stoops defense

“They play a 3-4 all the time, they play regular people a lot and they’re a big zone team. Very physical. Do a great job of executing their scheme. They’re really well-coached. A little different than some people play in this day and age, but they’re really, really effective at what they do.”

On Kevin Steele getting on his players after LSU’s final drive of the first half

"I guess I do like the relief of other people sort of getting on players (laughs) when they need it. Not in a negative way but in a way that is inspiring to them and gets them to play better.

“He’s pretty soft-spoken most of the time, but I think when he does get on them or say something, everybody listens.”

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Gallery Credit: Meg Summers

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