COLUMBUS – As a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship game, Alabama’s offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and players on the offensive side of the ball spoke at a virtual media day.
Here are the highlights.
OC Steve Sarkisian
+ The awards are a cool by-product of the good team they have. The awards and honors come because they have a good football team and he is proud of them.
+ He is excited about the opportunity at Texas and looks forward to getting there, but he has a commitment to this program to give this game the attention it deserves. He is completely focused on the game and his week has been normal as far as game planing and preparation.
+ On Ohio State’s defense, “clearly they are all very talented players.” The corners have great length and they create turnovers. His offense will have to protect well to allow the quarterback and receivers to do their things. The challenge will be to win the one-on-one battles and that’s the focus.
+ Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all time. He’s a tremendous mentor. He gained a lot out of this experience and tried to be a sponge with him.
+ His players really understand what they are doing offensively. They can understand the game plan and think at a high level.
+ “This group plays with one another, they play for one another, and they celebrate the successes of one another. The maturity on this team is really high.”
+ Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was back out at practice on Tuesday after fracturing his ankle in October. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”
TE Miller Forristall
+ DeVonta Smith is a fighter. He continued to put his head down and go to work and he’s a great teammate.
+ It took him a long time to feel better after his ACL.
+ Nobody is looking at their individual legacies, they are just focused on beating Ohio State.
+ Coaches want to come here and learn under Nick Saban and they want to win.
+ Najee Harris is one of the hardest workers they have on the team. His balance and flexibility impress him the most.
+ “Anytime you’re playing in the National Championship game, you know you’re playing against good players and this is no exception.” The linebackers are older, veteran players, they are really athletic, and they run the show for the defense.
RB Najee Harris
+ On hurdling defenders, Harris said he started a long time ago because he was tired of being hit in the legs.
+ Ohio State has a good defensive line, a really good defensive line. Baron Browning and the other guys are also good. They are all really fast off the ball, they dissect things out, have good lateral movement, they rally around the ball, and they are well coached. “Their secondary is good, all of the guys can play.”
+ He thinks their offensive line is playing really well. They have a game plan set and he feels like they have weapons everywhere. Their focus is balance offensively because they know nothing is going to be easy.
+ They have to play to the Alabama standard.
+ Playing against the best excites him. He likes great competition. He knows it’s not going to be easy or fancy and there aren’t gong to be any long explosive runs or big hurdles. “It’s best against best.”
QB Mac Jones
+ Ohio State overall has great players. They don’t have a super complicated scheme because they don’t have to. It will be the best defense they have played this year.
+ On being from Florida, Jones said getting a chance to play in Miami is exciting but at the end of the day it is just another game. They have to play their game. Ohio State will do the same.
+ He played 7-on-7 with Shaun Wade. He is a great guy, great family, and a technician. Sevyn Banks has a cool name. The safeties are ball hawks, they have to keep their eyes on them. “They play well all around.”
+ He loves playing against a great quarterback, Justin Fields is the top quarterback in the country and he’s blessed to be able to play on the field with him. Their defense has a great challenge facing Ohio State’s offense but he is excited to talk with him and watch him play.
+ Shaun Wade was really humble for being a top recruit and he had his back when he wasn’t a top recruit.
OT Alex Leatherwood
+ On Ohio State, Leatherwood said their front seven, they are strong and physical. they are stout in the interior and they have good edge rushers. Their linebackers are super athletic and can go sideline to sideline. “They are a good group.”
+ They have to play football. “We have to attack Ohio State’s linebackers directly because they are smart and good.”
+ On facing Ohio State’s defense, Leatherwood said “we’re going to step up to the challenge and see if they want to play football.”
+ As a Floridian, he loves being back at Florida and being back home. “I think Florida is the best state ever.”
+ People respect what he says as a leader. This whole week he has been telling his teammates to seize every opportunity to get better.
WR John Metchie
+ “Everyone knows what Jaylen Waddle brings to the table and the offense and how that challenges the defense.”
+ On Sevyn Banks, Metchie said he doesn’t really look at individual matchups a lot but he looks at the personnel and Banks is a good DB, he’s long, lengthy, and good in coverage. He has to be prepared to face whoever and win his box.
+ He hopes more wideouts win the Heisman Trophy in the future.
+ Mac Jones does everything great. “His leadership, his ability when he’s on the field, and his preparation… he’s great at all of those things.”
+ One defender cannot slow down DeVonta Smith.
WR DeVonta Smith
+ Winning the Heisman Trophy is a great feeling. It was just a blessing. But now he is focused on Ohio State. He went home and went right to sleep.
+ As a defense, Ohio State is a very good defense. The guys get to the ball, they are very athletic, and they don’t make mistakes.
+ On matching up with Shaun Wade, Smith said he is looking forward to getting to play against him. He’s very crafty and mixes he is technique up. “He’s a technician in whatever he does and he’s just a great player.”
+ He thinks every team has coverages where there’s going to be doubles in it.
+ He doesn’t know anyone on Ohio State’s team.