Monday Morning Quarterback
I knew that Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams did not give Clemson much respect following the Tigers’ thumping of the Crimson Tide in the national championship game earlier this month, but I did not realize Tua Tagovailoa did the same thing in the moments following the game.
Typically, I don’t go back and watch the postgame happenings I have recorded on the DVR until later on, when I pick up some extra time. The last few weeks we have been working tirelessly to put out our collector’s edition magazine ‘Little Ole Clemson:’ The Best ‘Little’ Dynasty Ever’ so I had not had the opportunity to watch any of it until the other day.
I’ll be honest. I was surprised by the lack of respect Williams and Tagovailoa displayed in the moments that followed the game. In fact, I was kind of disappointed in Nick Saban’s comments as well.
“I mean, when you look at the stats of the game and they basically had the ball for the last 10 minutes of the game, but if you look at the stats of the game, their yards and all that are fairly equal,” he said. “But the score, because of turnovers, not finishing drives in the red zone, not getting off the field on third down, giving up explosive plays, score doesn’t indicate anything like that.”
Well, that’s because Clemson made those plays, Nick.
Granted, Alabama did not play well in the championship game. I can understand the Tide’s disappointment. However, part of the reason why they did not play well was because of how well Clemson played.
Williams said Georgia and Oklahoma were better offensively than Clemson, yet the Tigers converted 10-of-15 third downs on the Tide in the title game, had 482 yards and scored 37 offensive points. Oh, by the way, they also ran out the last 10 minutes and two seconds of the game clock with a 94-yard drive.
It was obvious Alabama quit on that last drive and when a team quits like the Tide’s defense did on that final 10-minute drive, it’s because the other team took their will from them, and that is exactly what Clemson did.
Tagovailoa was asked following the game what exactly Clemson’s defense did to confuse him and cause him issues, especially on the two interceptions.
“I don’t think it was anything that they were doing that stopped us,” he said. “That was totally a bad decision. It was a poor decision on my part. I just think we came out, and we were killing ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot by me throwing that interception for a touchdown, and then not finishing drives the way we wanted to. Just didn’t go the way we wanted to.”
So, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables changing up his scheme and playing more zone than press man did not confuse you, Mr. Tagovailoa? From what I saw, especially on the two interceptions, you looked confused.
In both cases, Clemson gave one look, but at the snap rolled into a different look. Granted, you did make the wrong decisions with the football, but that was due to the fact you were confused and thought you were making the right ones.
On the first interception you thought Clemson was playing man, when in fact it was playing zone and you threw the ball right to cornerback A.J. Terrell, who subsequently returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.
Venables again fooled Tagovailoa on the second interception midway through the second quarter. This time, the Tigers gave a Cover 2 look and then rolled into a Cover 3 once the ball was snapped.
Tagovailoa saw his pre-snap read where he thought he had a window to throw a deep ball to Jerry Jeudy down the seam. However, what he did not see, because he was confused, was Clemson corner Trayvon Mullen drop deep, leaving his guy wide open underneath on a curl.
Mullens just tracked the ball in the air and made an easy interception, which he returned 46 yards up the sideline to the Alabama 47. That interception led to a 5-yard Travis Etienne touchdown from Trevor Lawrence to give the Tigers control of the game, 28-16, with 4:38 to play in the first half.
The funny thing about the interception, and Tagovailoa’s comments after the game, is that replay showed Tagovailoa putting his arms up at first thinking he read the defense right and his team was going to score a touchdown. Then he realized Mullen intercepted his pass and that he did not even realize he was going to be back there.
To make a bad decision is to see another option to go with and you choose the wrong one. In this instance, Tagovailoa did not even see the other option because he already made up his mind what he was going to do with the football based on his pre-snap read. He did not even look at the coverage and see his wide-open receiver on the curl about eight yards up the field.
The Tigers continued to rattle Tagovailoa throughout the game, especially in the red zone as the field shortened and he had to read the different coverages. He looked very confused at times.
But, hey! Clemson did not do anything. It was all Alabama.
I have to give credit to Alabama running back Damien Harris, though. He was very complementary of the Tigers after the game and gave them a lot of credit for the Tide’s struggles.
When you get beat by 28 points in a championship game, Harris displayed the way a leader is supposed to react. He gave credit to the team that beat them. He did not try to make excuses or be too prideful to admit that they just got beat and it was as simple as that.
Tagovailoa and Williams could learn and thing or do from Mr. Harris.
Move over Alabama, Clemson is the new King of College Football. In our new magazine “Little Ole Clemson”: The Best “Little” Dynasty Ever, we examine not just the 2018 team’s run to being “the best ever” but examine the last four seasons and how Dabo Swinney turned Clemson into the new dynasty of college football. We also take a look at the role former athletic director Terry Don Phillips played. We go behind the scenes at the Tigers’ run to a second national championship in three seasons and the previous three national championship runs. It also features stories on the Power Rangers, the 2018 senior class, high quality photos and much, much more.
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