Nick Saban on Clemson: "They're a complete team"
|Monday, December 31, 2018, 5:13 PM- -|
Nick Saban of Alabama says Clemson is a complete football team.
For the third time in four seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers will square off in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Kickoff from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is set for 8 p.m. ET, Monday, Jan. 7. The Crimson Tide are six-point favorites with the total at 59.5 in the latest Alabama vs. Clemson odds.
Saban told the media on a teleconference Monday that he’s impressed with what Clemson has been able to accomplish.
“Well, you know, it's a real opportunity for our players to be able to play in the championship game again against an outstanding Clemson team,” Saban said. “Coach Swinney and his team have had an outstanding year, and being 14-0 and ACC champs, they've got a really nice group of players on both sides of the ball. They're a complete team in terms of their offense being very productive, averaging 44 points a game and 530 yards. The freshman quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, has done a fantastic job for them all year long. They've got great balance on offense in terms of their ability to run and throw and a talented group of receivers. Their defense is one of the best defensive teams in the country in lots of different categories, and they've got a really good front seven, and they're very well-coached. This is certainly a complete team.
“But again, our team is very excited about having the opportunity to be in the college football championship game again. This is several years in a row we've had to play, or got the opportunity to play Clemson, which is one of the great programs in the country right now. We're certainly looking forward to the challenge.”
Saban then said that was impressed with what Swinney has accomplished at Clemson.
“I think everybody here at Alabama because Dabo was a player here and a coach here, has a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's really a personal friend that I personally have a tremendous amount of respect for, as a coach, as well,” Saban said. “They've done just as good a job as anybody in the country when it comes to what they've been able to accomplish over the last decade in terms of consistency and performance each and every year. They do a great job in recruiting. They do a great job of developing players. It's just a really, really good program.
“We have a lot of respect for him, and that's why we tried to hire him years ago, but things worked out extremely well for him, and we're happy for him and his family.”
The teams were ranked first and second to begin the season, and Saban said he isn’t surprised the two are playing for the title.
“Well, I think as the season evolved, just knowing how well Clemson played all year long and how they were pretty dominant in their league, it was no surprise to me that they would end up where they are right now,” he said. “You're always looking at the next game and not looking too far ahead and all that, but it's no surprise to me that they're in the championship game, as well.”