Clemson wants redemption, and they want it bad. Just listen to guys like senior linebacker Ben Boulware, and you feel their pain. It’s been Clemson’s driving force all season. In fact, there’s a banner that hangs in Clemson’s football indoor facility. It reads “National Finalists.” Head coach Dabo Swinney, says it’s a reminder for how special the Tigers’ 14-1 ‘2015 season truly was. But, to guys like Boulware, it means the Tigers finished second. It means they didn’t get the job done.
But, who would have ever thought the driving force for guys like Bama’s standout defensive end Jonathan Allen would be Clemson. After all, his team did win the game, giving Alabama it’s 16th national championship. But in actuality, Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster, and others opted to stay in school. A big reason why was the bitter taste left in their mouth from last year’s national title game. Forty points, and 550 yards of offense can leave a bad taste. Winning the game just wasn’t enough. If that’s not a case of player’s taking on Nick Saban’s identity, I don’t know what is.
That sentiment is shared by a lot of Bama’s veteran defensive players. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, went as far to say that his Mom wondered what was wrong with him, as he moped around the house, days after the championship game. Fitzpatrick, told his Mom that he was upset because Bama didn’t play well defensively. His Mom then asked, “didn’t you guys just win the national championship?” It doesn’t matter.
To them, regardless if Bama wins or not, giving up 40 points is a no-no. Regardless, if it’s against a Heisman Trophy contender like DeShaun Watson or not.
That’s the thing. Watson, is only college football’s best QB. Yeah, I know Lamar Jackson just won the Heisman Trophy. But, Watson is still the ‘creme de la creme’. Despite some turnover issues at times, he’s made plenty of defenses look foolish. So, it’s not such a terrible thing that Watson had his way in last year’s game. But, that’s the reason why Bama is continuously in these situations, playing for championships. It’s about never being satisfied. It’s the Nick Saban way.
Dabo Swinney seems to be instilling the same values at Clemson, even if he remained positive after last season’s loss to Alabama. Boulware, one of the Tigers’ emotional leaders, hasn’t been shy about how big this game is. He also talked about the ‘National Finalists’ sign.
According to a story this week from the Charlotte Observer, he hates it. He called it a sign of “unfinished business”, not a sign of success. “It’s been (ticking) me off for a year and (ticked) the rest of our team off. Especially the defense,” Boulware said. “Going out there and losing that game…seeing that sign every day. Just thinking about it (ticks) me off. I think coach Swinney has done a good job of putting that right in our face.”
So, Bama is ticked off for giving up 40 points, but winning the game. Clemson is ticked off for giving up 45 and losing. Clemson wants redemption, so does Bama defense? So, who gets it? We’re only 26 hours away from kickoff. Cannot wait!
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