ESPN analyst discusses Alabama's onside kick vs. Clemson
ESPN analyst Chris Fowler was on the Paul Finebaum show on Wednesday and discussed the crucial onside kick play during the National Championship game between Clemson and Alabama.
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“I saw them practice it a lot, and it puzzled me because they kept doing this little pooch kick," Chris Fowler said on the Paul Finebaum show. "It never worked in practice, by the way, as well as it did in the game. I saw them do it before the Cotton Bowl, and I saw them do it again in the few practices I watched before the championship game. It was near the end of practice, but they’d do it even in the walk through the day before. Saban’s out there with his readers on his nose and in his suit directing the walk through in great detail as he always does, and they’re doing this kick and you’re thinking– when are they going to use that? That’s not a conventional onside kick, so even if you were trailing and you needed to recover it, you wouldn’t go to that. It was to be used the way he ended up using it– as a surprise. But I never thought that we would see it."
Alabama's kicker practiced it over and over again before they put it into action against Clemson.
"Griffith kept trying it again and again, and not always with all the players out there," Fowler said. "Sometimes he would try it on his own because that little pooch kick has to be placed, as you saw, in that little spot with the open area or it would be a penalty. You can’t give Clemson a chance to catch it, or the whole thing is ruined and there is no element of surprise there. So he had to put it in that exact spot. It show to me, Paul, the detail that I guess Saban is known for, but it’s just a great, important visible example of it."