Alabama had the misfortune of meeting the hottest team in the nation last year in the college football playoffs.
Was Ohio State the best team? No, I don't think that. Were they the most talented? No, I don't believe that either. But, they were the best coached, playing their best football, when it mattered most. And, in a scenario that is growing increasingly familiar, the Tide fell flat and were left with excuses.
Most damning is that Kirby Smart polled the players after Ohio State won the game, particularly guys in the secondary, and the answer was unanimous: an already-shaky secondary just didn't have respect for what Cardale Jones could do.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart asked three Tide veteran defensive backs — Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams — the same question following Alabama's Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State in January. "I said ... "Where did we go wrong? What did we do wrong?" Smart shared during a radio interview Monday on 680 The Fan in Atlanta.
"All three of them said they did not the respect the quarterback."
For a secondary that was lit up repeatedly deep with nothing more than a heave-and-a-prayer all season that is unconscionable. I'm not sure if it was scheme or arrogance or coaches not imparting to the players just how dangerous Jones' arm was, but that is unacceptable. Coach Smart makes clear that it is their job as coaches to actually make the players respect the opponent, but this is something we've seen far too often in bowl games under Nick Saban.
Worse, that excuse doesn't at all address where this game was won and lost: up front. Alabama had its way running the ball, as did Ohio State. One team went away from it and that team lost. Lane Kiffin has some difficult questions to answer as well.
Let's hope a chin-wag with Tom Herman actually screwed some folks' heads on straight.
we went directly to [Herman]. ... We said, 'Hey, we want to meet with you. You know us better than anybody. You spent four weeks getting ready for us. What's our tendencies? What do we do wrong? What do you think? And he was just honest with us. He told us what he thought, and it was very valuable for us."