Nick Saban and multiple Alabama players addressed the media on a conference call Monday as the Crimson Tide sets its sights on a rematch with Clemson in the national championship game next week.
Here is a summary of what they said:
— Saban called Clemson a “complete team.” Saban also complimented Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s front seven.
— Saban said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is “a personal friend.” Saban added Swinney does a great job in recruiting and developing players.
— Saban said Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow is a “crafty, smart” player who uses his quickness to get open.
— Saban said it was no surprise to him that Clemson ended up in the national championship game yet again.
— Saban said he thought Clemson receiver Justyn Ross was one of the best players in Alabama when the Crimson Tide was recruiting him. “It was unfortunate for us that it didn’t work out our way,” he said.
— Saban said the first time he saw Trevor Lawrence was when the quarterback was a sophomore. He said it was no doubt then that he would become one of the best players in the nation. “He certainly doesn’t look like a freshman,” Saban said. “That’s for sure.”
— Saban said running back Josh Jacobs has been a very consistent player in all phases of the game. “We have always been really pleased with Josh,” Saban added.
— Saban said size and athleticism are key factors in recruiting defensive linemen, and mobility is even more valued considering that the game is now played in space.
— Tua Tagovailoa said he hasn’t developed a personal relationship with Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence but has admired him from afar for the way that he handled his situation at Clemson.
— Tagovailoa said getting back to the national championship game was something he and his teammates have wanted since they won the title last January.
— Tagovailoa said Alabama was “antsy” before its victory over Oklahoma in the semifinal and that led to the 28-0 start in the game.
— Safety Xavier McKinney said the secondary felt that it had the personnel to perform well from the very beginning and that the unit was fueled by the doubt that existed outside the program after the unit lost all six starters in the offseason.
— McKinney said he has improved in “open-field tackling” and “man-to-man” coverages.
— Answering the same question, Tagovailoa said he has made progress as a leader in his decision-making, which he felt had slipped in the second half of the season.
— Tagovailoa said he enjoys being on the field with Jalen Hurts at the same time. “No one knows who is going to get the ball,” he said. He said it is also fun for the fans.
— Tagovailoa said his left ankle was “definitely sore” after the victory over Oklahoma. “I guess I can say it is better.” Tagovailoa added that up until the national chamionship game Monday that he will still be getting treatment and going through therapy.
— Tagovailoa attributed the phenomenon of freshman quarterbacks playing in the national championship to their upbringing and the lessons they learned from their parents.
Rainer Sabin is an Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin