NEW ORLEANS–Last season Jalen Hurts got the ball with four minutes remaining in the national championship game down 28-24 and mounted a six play 68-yard drive in 2:31 giving Alabama a 31-28 lead over Clemson with two minutes to play.
It seemed to many as though the Crimson Tide quarterback had just sealed the game but the Tigers put together a drive of their own to scoring the winning touchdown with one second remaining.
Hurts put together one of the best freshman seasons in Alabama history a year ago as a Freshman All-American, this season the sophomore quarterback seems more poised and mature as a playmaker entering the College Football Playoff.
The Tiger defense knows stopping a mobile playmaker like Hurts is no easy task but Clelin Ferrell and company are up for the challenge.
Thus far in 2017 Hurts has rushed for 1161 yards and 13 touchdowns while passing for 2780 yards and 23 touchdowns in route to winning 11 games.
Hurts has evolved as a quarterback this season, making throws in tighter windows and playing with more comfort in the pocket.
Meanwhile, he has not lost his ability to scramble and extend plays with his feet.
Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell is very impressed with the Alabama quarterback’s ability as a playmaker.
“[Hurts] can make plays with his feet and all it takes is one wrong rush lane to let him break for 50 yards or scramble to find a receiver for 60 yards” said Ferrell.
Covering an explosive quarterback is no easy task but is not something the Clemson defense is new to. The Tiger defense shut down former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson earlier this season sacking Jackson five times.
Facing Hurts does not change Clemson’s mantra as a defense but it does force Tiger defenders to play with more strictness.
“Regardless of who we play we are going to try and get in the quarterback’s face, put pressure on him, and try to get in his head” said Ferrell.
“When you face a guy like Jalen Hurts you have to have more discipline and do it in a smarter way” he said.
The Clemson defense is up for the task of stopping the elusive quarterback and get their shot on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl.