TAMPA, Fla. – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had a message for Alabama coach Nick Saban last March- get ready for the rematch.
He fulfilled that promise on Sunday when the two head coaches addressed the media together, and on Monday his Tigers will get the chance to succeed where they failed last season.
“I mean, I felt like he [Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson] was the best player in the country coming back, and the type of worker he is and leader, you know, you’ve always got a chance when you can surround a great quarterback with a good cast,” Swinney said.
Last season, Clemson’s bye week came after only three games, but this season the Tigers were able to rest up during the eighth week of the season instead.
That in combination with an older roster has the former Alabama walk-on, or crawl-on as Swinney prefers to call himself, even more confident in his team’s ability to succeed against his alma mater this time around.
That could be bad news for a Crimson Tide team that needed an onside kick and a kick returned for a touchdown to stay in front of the Tigers long enough to secure the 45-40 national championship victory.
Saban also believes his team is better prepared this time around. The coaches had two less days in between the semis and the final round, but that might work out in Alabama’s favor.
“Last year it was a little bit of a tough management with the number of time you had between the season and the first playoff game and then the time we had from the playoff game,” Saban said. “…We played a little bit tired in the game last year, didn’t seem like we had the juice. Maybe we practiced a little bit too much.”
Swinney said losing the two days had a minimal impact on his players, but it did force the coaching staff to work more on the plane ride home from the team’s 31-0 victory over Ohio State on Dec. 31.
Ready or not the time for preparation is over. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers will clash tomorrow night at 8, and only one team will leave the field the way Saban’s teams have left the field all five times they’ve made it this far- as national champions.
“I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Swinney said. “I mean, obviously I grew up, Coach [Paul W. “Bear” Bryant] was a hero of mine, and everybody here knows about Coach Bryant. But with what Coach Saban has done, the amount of championships in the span of time with scholarships, it’s just incredible. I really have no words.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports