NEW ORLEANS—Top-ranked Clemson and No. 4 Alabama continue preparation as the College Football Playoff semi-final game between the two draws closer. Saturday morning both teams made their way to the Superdome for Media Day.
The media spoke with Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban, quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver. Here is what we heard:
“I think (Coach) Dabo (Swinney) does a fantastic job with his team,” Saban said. “He’s got a really good coaching staff. I think they’re very innovative in some of the things that they do offensively, which makes it very hard for them to defend.”
“I think they do a very good job of utilizing the personnel that they have on offense. They’re very talented on defense, create a lot of problems for you, very aggressive in how they play. They’ve got some really good players, but those players play extremely well. And they’re very solid on special teams and everything they do.”
Saban specifically spoke about Hurts and how pleased he is with the tremendous amount of growth Hurts has shown from last season to over the course of this season.
“I think Jalen has improved dramatically from last year to this year,” Saban said. “And I think his consistency and performance throughout this past season was a lot better, especially in the passing game. Jalen has always been a guy that, because of his athleticism and his ability to run the ball, has made a lot of plays with his feet.
“But I also think that we’ve been able to help him develop as a quarterback in terms of his decision-making in the pocket. And, when he has done that well, he’s been extremely effective. And he’s been a little more consistent at doing that well this year. And we hope that we’ll be able to continue to build on that for him in this game.”
Hurts considers himself to be a “perfectionist” on the field and the similar personality traits he shares with Saban create a unique bond between the coach and player.
“Me and Coach Saban are like, when it comes to things like that, just kind of being overcritical, kind of being our own biggest critic and then kind of the perfectionist,” Hurts said. “You want to do things right all the time. And when you don’t do it right, you want to be able to fix it. And we relate when it comes to that. So I think we kind of have a connection.”
Ridley knows all eyes will be on the Superdome Monday night, but the capacity of this game has not drastically altered the way the Tide has prepared for the Tigers.
“I just think it’s two of the best teams in the nation going at it,” he said. “I mean, you just got to bring your A game when this game comes. And you never know, like, those first two games, seeing the outcome of those, you just got to play good football.”
Obviously last year did not work out for Alabama the way they had hoped but they’re not leaving anything on the table this year. The Tide isn’t dwelling on last year’s loss to Clemson in the National Championship but they are using this year as another opportunity and not letting that go to waste.
“So we got another chance,” Ridley said, “and we’re going to take full advantage of that. We’ve been talking about that, but that’s pretty much what it is. It’s just leave with no regrets. I mean, we’re all going to go out there and lay it on the line and play our best game.”