NEW ORLEANS — Since Nick Saban became its head coach back in 2007, Alabama has been a team that just comes right at you.
There are no smoke and mirrors. There are no stunts and seldom is there a trick play. The Crimson Tide usually plays their opponents straight up. If you want to beat them, then you have to lineup and physically beat them.
There are not too many teams that have been able to do that during Saban’s tenure there. Seldom does the Tide just get beat straight up. However, Alabama has met its match in Clemson.
“That is the reason why we love playing these guys. We love straight up ball games,” linebacker Rashaad Evans said. “We love playing smash mouth football. I feel like that is really the most exciting games because you have talent against talent facing head-to-head and I feel like those are the best kind of games.”
Clemson vs. Alabama has definitely been great games in the past two national championships. Now, for a third straight year, the two will meet again, this time in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
“It just makes the game more interesting when somebody is attacking you,” safety Ronnie Harrison said. “The next thing you know is that it’s a battle. You know you are stepping into a big battle when we play Clemson.”
Evans agreed that when they play Clemson, it’s almost like playing themselves.
“They have athletes that can line up and play,” he said.
Evans said Alabama’s goal each week is to impose their will on their opponents, and physically try and dominate the game. The Tigers like to do the same thing.
“I feel like if we can do that then it kind of gets them in a bind to where they really have to play straight up,” the Alabama linebacker said. “That is really what we want. We hate playing against teams that do all of these exotic things.”
That’s not what Clemson does, says Harrison. The Tigers may show a lot of different looks, but the Alabama safety knows exactly what is going to happen when he and his teammates see the Tigers on Monday night in the Superdome.
“It’s a fast-pace, physical offense,” he said. “They throw the ball and run the ball. They are balanced so you just have to be prepared for whatever.
“They are coming down hill when they run. When they throw the ball they are aggressive. They are kind of attacking you all the time.”