TUSCALOOSA _ It took nine questions for the University of Alabama's Nick Saban to hammer home his point about the state of his football team during his regular Monday afternoon press conference, but did it in a way that drew national attention.
The frustrated coach used a bad word.
"The focus is not on what you need to do to be successful," he said. "It's drinking the Kool-Aid, thinking that just because they say it on ESPN it's so, reading the newspapers all week. Just because you beat Florida 31-6, people start talking about you being the best team in the country. We're not the best team in the country.
"We had the best team in the country last year. We proved it. We proved it over 14 games. This team hasn't proved (expletive). Excuse my language. That's how I feel about it."
Saban then quickly apologized, especially for those who might be listening live: "I'm really upset that I used bad language. I'm sorry. I'm sure I'll get some letters on that, and should."
The question that prompted the four-letter word was about how junior running back Mark Ingram's after the 35-21 loss at No. 19 South Carolina to knock the Crimson Tide from atop the polls, about how some players may have felt just playing for Alabama meant that they were going to essentially win every game.
Saban also touched upon it during his more toned-down introductory remarks, when he again talked about the team's developing maturity and how attention to detail makes all the difference.
"To competitors and football players, and really players in any sport it's always about aspiring to be the best you can be, and focusing on things you can do daily," he said. "Sometimes that can be difficult to do, especially if you're satisfied with the success you've had to that point. It doesn't become about playing to a standard, it becomes about winning the game. I know to the fans that's probably the only thing that is important."
Junior wide receiver Julio Jones and junior defensive end Marcell Dareus topped Monday's team awards and named players of the week by the coaching staff.
"Outstanding game," Saban said about Jones, who had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown while playing with a broken hand. He was the lone offensive player while Dareus shared the defensive honor with junior nose tackle Josh Chapman. Trent Richardson, Wes Neighbors and Cade Foster were named on special teams.
Dareus, who had eight tackles including four for loss and a sack, was named honorable mention for SEC defensive player of the week. Winning the league's offensive award was South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia.
Those expecting to see true freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley as an every-down contributor may have to wait a little while.
"He started in nickel in the Florida game so there was no decision, he was already starting," Saban said about the decision to regularly use him against South Carolina. "We used four linebackers in the Florida game. We used three guys in the last game.
"We're playing a lot of different guys at linebacker. Chris Jordan played in the last game too. Mosley has been playing the nickel, Nico plays in the regular, Chris Jordan was playing in dime, rabbits we put Donta (Hightower) down to rush, and (Jordan) got hurt in the Florida game. We're kind of utilizing all these guys to their strengths, or trying to, so they're all starters in some regard.
"C.J. ended up playing a lot more in this game because of the circumstances, but that's probably not how we'll move forward."
Kickoff for next week's game at Tennessee will be 6 p.m. on ESPN.
The complete SEC television schedule for Oct. 23 includes:
Ole Miss at Arkansas, 11:21 p.m., SEC Network; LSU at Auburn, 2:30 p.m., CBS; UAB at Mississippi State, 6 p.m., ESPNU; South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m., FSN; Georgia at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., CSS
This week's game against Ole Miss will be shown on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.
For the first time this season, Alabama completely closed its Monday practice. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy admitted that he needed to throw the ball away more against South Carolina, which tallied seven sacks, although he also made a couple of big plays while trying to buy time for his receivers. "The offensive line did a good job in the game," Saban said. "We had sacks because we held on to the ball. On probably five of those sacks we had ample time to throw the ball and we tried to create plays, and I'm not trying to be critical of Greg, by moving around and scrambling in the pocket and eventually got sacked."
McElroy said the busted screen in the red zone, when he turned to throw and the receiver wasn't where he expected, wasn't the original play-call. "I'll shoulder the blame for that," he said. "I have to able to communicate a little better in the huddle."
Junior running back Mark Ingram on his lack of production against the Gamecocks: "They had two weeks to prepare, they had a game plan, they executed. Obviously their number-one thing was to stop the run."
The Football Writers Association of America named South Carolina its national team of the week for pulling off the home upset against No.1 Alabama. The Davey O'Brien Award also named Garcia its national quarterback of the week.