Alabama will take on a familiar opponent when it faces Clemson in Monday night’s College Football Playoff national championship game.
And while the Crimson Tide won in a thriller last season, the 45-40 victory didn’t come easily. That’s why during its preparations for Monday’s game, the Crimson Tide has been looking at last season’s meeting and the similar team Clemson will field in the latest matchup.
That foundation from which to build off, for instance, has aided sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
“What I see is pretty much same thing as last year,” Ridley said. “They got a good defensive line and their secondary’s really good. I feel like their secondary’s the best part of their defense. … I see some of the same things (as last year). They got a lot of guys who can play the ball well, like I said. They compete very well at a high level. Obviously we’re going to have to bring it.”
At the tail end of an extended season, Ridley also has made sure to take care of his body better in its recovery – sentiments shared by teammates going through the same thing.
“It’s been a long season,” Ridley said. “I remember last season I was tired, but this year I knew what was coming and I did it the right way and now I feel fresh. Last year, I was tired in that game. I’m ready for this game.”
In preparation, Alabama coach Nick Saban noted earlier this week that the team was practicing less ahead of the national championship – which includes fewer hitting during those times – though part of the reason for that comes as a result of two fewer days between playoff games compared to last season.
Overall, around 20 projected starters for Alabama across offense, defense and special teams either started or saw action in last season’s national championship game.
Defensively, Alabama’s performance against the Tigers last season was one of its worst in Saban’s 10 years as coach. The Crimson Tide surrendered 550 yards of total offense – with 478 of it coming from quarterback Deshaun Watson – on top of the 40 points allowed.
Sophomore defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne said his unit is fully aware it’s facing the same team – with much of the same cast – this season.
“A lot of the guys been talking about last year we really didn’t play Alabama football,” he said. “… We are going to try to bring that standard into this game.”
(You can follow Kassidy Hill on Twitter @KassidyGHill)
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