Most football prognosticators picked Clemson based on Clemson's track record as an offensive team and their much vaunted defensive line. All of their starting four will probably be picked in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
I suspect that the Crimson Tide used all these picks and all this talk about Clemson's defense for motivation.
And it showed because Alabama's defense was salty and ferocious last night.
They kept Clemson to 6 points and 188 yards of total offense. The defense also bailed out the offense after Hurts's stupid turnover.
It was an old-school win: play great defense, control the ball and clock, and work field position.
It was a much closer score than the final tally indicates.
Payne and Wilson had outstanding interceptions, with Mack's going for a pick six.
Payne won the defensive player of the game, but I think he got that more for the fabulous touchdown catch. One could make the case that Evans, Wallace, Wilson, or Jennings should have won that award.
But here are some stats to show defensive standouts:
- Evans: 9 total tackles (5 solo), 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss (tfl)
- Wallace: 6 total tacles (all solo)
- Wilson: 6 total tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, pick six
- Jennings: 5 total tackles (3 solo), 1 sack, 3 tfls
- Davis: 5 total tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 2 tfls
- Hand: 5 total tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 tfl
As much as I want to pump sunshine about this win, I'm still concerned about the offense's performance. Hurts underthrew a pass on flee flicker that could have been a touchdown for Ridley if he would have led Ridley enough.
The game plan obviously was run-centric, which is fine with me. D. Harris had a great game. He was the standout it the running game. However, I'm still waiting for a stronger passing attack. We've had that at times this season, but it hasn't been consistent.
I guess the question going forward is this: Is Georgia's defense better than Clemson's?
I think they are probably comparable, and I am confident that the Bulldogs have a better running game than Clemson.
What I think we will see in the National Championship is two evenly matched teams that have similarities on both offense and defense.