COLUMBUS – As a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, defensive coordinator Pete Golding, and players from the defensive side of the ball spoke at a virtual media day.
Here are the highlights.
Head Coach Nick Saban
+ “It’s obviously a great opportunity for our team to play in the college football National Championship game. I think in a game like this, preparation is really, really important. Our practices have been good. But we’re playing against a very good team, so that preparation is always very difficult when you play against a lot of good players and a team that’s very well-coached like Ohio State.”
+ On Jaylen Waddle, “He has been able to practice some. His status for the game is still relatively up in the air and it will probably be a game-day decision.”
+ On preparing for Ohio State, Saban said they watch other teams play against them and try to analyze the strategy that they have on offense, defense, and special teams. He also asks other coaches who have played against Ohio State for advice.
+ “When you play a team every year, you develop a little better history for what you would do against them as opposed to when you just play a team once sort of every four or five years.”
+ Ryan Day has done a great job. “They’ve got one of the best teams in the country, no doubt about that.”
+ The number one goal in the Alabama program is to have players create value for themselves whether that is character, attitude, how they represent themselves, the kind of brand that they develop for yourself, etc.
+ “When Dylan Moses plays for us, he makes everybody around him play better. He makes all the calls on defense. I think the players have confidence in him and his understanding of the system and the scheme.”
+ He originally didn’t want to be a coach. But when he did it, he absolutely loved it.
+ Saban thinks Ohio is one of the great states when it comes to football, football tradition, and really good high school football.
+ On potentially not playing the game on Monday, “I think there would have been some probably, I don’t know, difficult management issues if we would have moved the game back. Our school is starting this next week. We would have had 35,000 students coming back here. We’ve played 12 games this year, so we have a lot of guys that have ground through the season, a lot of guys that are nicked up a little bit. Another week of practice would have been much more difficult for those guys probably. January 18th is a day people got to decide whether they’re going to go out for the draft or not. So just the whole timing of the whole thing would have been a tough management. But I would have put player safety on either team as the most important factor in this decision.”
+ They have improved as the season has progressed and the players have a lot more confidence.
DC Pete Golding
+ Justin Fields looks like a veteran. “He’s become a complete quarterback.”
+ A lot of Ohio State’s chunk plays have come in the run game and it happens when the defense misses a fit and there’s a gap. His team has to be sound in the run game to not give those plays up.
+ They are going to try to change the picture on defense and change who they are doubling because Ohio State has a lot of different weapons. “You’ve got to do a lot of different pictures, show them different things, play different coverage variables, to be able to take away certain things at certain times.”
+ On Trey Sermon, “I think we’ll get his best. We normally get everybody’s best, and I think he’s playing at a really high level.”
+ They have all gone through some adversity this season.
+ They had too many mental errors against Ole Miss.
LB Dylan Moses
+ Being able to play in the National Championship game is a dream.
+ Ohio State’s offensive line has been the key to Trey Sermon’s success. “Any great running back would say that.”
+ A big focus of theirs is trying to make Ohio State one-dimensional and stopping their run game. “That’s something that’s really important just as far as the success.”
+ Justin Fields reminds him of a younger Cam Newton. “I’ve been watching Justin Fields since he came out of high school. I always had high praise for him.”
+ On Ohio State’s balanced offense, “we’re just breaking down their offense just like we would do any other offense. We’re not trying to change anything or trying to do anything out of the ordinary.”
CB Patrick Surtain II
+ The defense has prepared better each week.
+ On Justin Fields, they have to do different things to affect him as far as getting to the quarterback, pressuring him, different disguises in the back end, etc.
+ On playing in South Florida, “It’ll be a hometown game.”
+ He is looking forward to impressing his father in this game. “I know they’re going to be happy to see me. I’m going to be happy to see them. It’s going to be a great moment.”
+ On Chris Olave, “He creates separation fast at the top of his routes. I’d say he also is very patient and fluid with his route running. He keeps the defense guessing.”
DL Phil Mathis
+ This team tries to do everything right on and off the field.
+ On stopping Justin Fields, they have to try and go out there and dominate him.
+ Coach Saban hasn’t talked much about the 2009 team, they are focused on this team and what they need to do.
+ On a potential second national championship for the 2017 team, Mathis said it will bring a lot of love and good feelings to know that they did it two times.
+ On Ohio State’s offensive line, “those guys are pretty physical and they move pretty good.” They have to accept the challenge up front.
+ His father motivates him and also his mom.
+ Trey Sermon is a good back. “You can see that it means a lot to him and he has something to prove and I love that about him.”
+ On Ohio State’s offensive tackles, they do a great job. “We just gotta take on the challenge and show up with the same intensity that they bring.”
+ When he watches film, he sees Ohio State do what they do best. He couldn’t compare them to anybody else they have played. “Ohio State is Ohio State.”
DL DJ Dale
+ Ohio State’s whole offense needs to get credit. “The offense as a whole is a challenge to take on.”
+ He feels they have been communicating better defensively. They have chemistry and a bond. He has a feel for everybody around him on the defense.
+ He believes in the calls the coaches make because they put them in the best position to make plays and they have to execute them.
+ The players buy in to the program and do what they are asked to do because they see where it can get them.
LB Christian Harris
+ Ohio State is very explosive offensively. He has to be disciplined to execute the game plan in order to slow down Ohio State’s offense.
+ On Ohio State’s running game, Harris said it starts with the offensive line. “Ohio State’s offensive line is very physical and the running back is an all-around great back.”
+ Jeremy Ruckert is a very physical tight end. “He can kill you in any moment in a game.” He will present a big challenge.
+ Each and every week they go in trying to make a statement as a defense.
+ Staying disciplined and trying to close the pocket will be important.
+ He has a pre-game ritual where he eats Skittles before the game.
S Jordan Battle
+ On playing at home in South Florida, he said it is going to be a great time having a lot of family there and playing where he grew up watching the Miami Dolphins play.
+ On committing to Ohio State before ending up at Alabama, Battle said he and his family were talking this week about how no matter which school he went to he would be playing in this game. It was a personal decision.
+ They have to stay focused on themselves.
+ Ohio State has great players who are very fast. “They are going to be the greatest challenge we have, it’s the National Championship.”