The game that really started the Alabama dynasty that has lasted a decade now was the 2008 season opener between Alabama and Clemson. Alabama took a highly hyped recruiting class (including Julio Jones) and dismantled the highly favored Clemson. This game represented a power shift in college football, and put Alabama on the national media lists for good.
Here’s a video from Al.com with some sound bytes from different people involved with that game, such as Tommy Bowden, Rashan Johnson, and John Parker Wilson.
BOL: Same thing happened in 2017. What were the emotions like after losing Round 2?
RF: “Man, it was emotional. Just knowing that we won last year against the team, but this year, we let it all slip away. It was crazy because we thought we had it, we could’ve had it. But we just let it slip away. I guess they wanted it more than us.
“It was really difficult because at the end of the day you want to win, and you try to do everything in your bones to win. But you can’t do it by yourself. Everybody felt drained, so drained. At Alabama, we never lose faith. It’s just they were the best team, they wanted it more and they limited their mistakes and just really went after it.”
CR: “It was obviously tough, especially since that was our first loss that year. And with that being the last game it’s kind of hard to redeem yourself from a loss like that because it was the last one of the season. It’s always difficult, but you’ve got to get better from that game and just kind of learn from it.”
AS: “I know people could tell that it was very disappointing that we made it all the way that far and we didn’t complete the overall goal. So, that was pretty heart-wrenching, but it went away with time. But right after the game, the emotions were flaring and guys didn’t want to do too much talking because we had a bad taste in our mouth after that. It wasn’t the way we wanted to go but, unfortunately, it was.”
TW: “It just shows that we gave it all we got, and that’s one thing about us -- we don’t really lose games because each and every game we go out there and give it our all because we know different teams look at us as their Super Bowl and their national championship. So, we can’t go out there lacking and being complacent. I’ll just say that Clemson just made all the right plays, and when it mattered, Deshaun Watson came through for them on that last drive to score the touchdown. But like I said, Clemson won that game, they fought back in it and took it.”
We’ve got some quotes from Reuben Foster, Cam Robinson, ArDarius Stewart, and Tim Williams about the last few years of Clemson games. Click the link for about 4 more quotes from each player. I didn’t think clipping the whole thing would be too page efficient here. In any case, the players all agreed on how once-in-a-generational player that DeShaun Watson was, and they all now consider Clemson a rival.
Tony Brown: The senior defensive back will probably see a lot of Hunter Renfrow again. Last year the Clemson slot receiver had 10 catches for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Tide. Junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick will be the other defender often on him and both need to do a better job of shutting down Renfrow.
Josh Jacobs: That he began the season with an injury limited the way Alabama could incorporate the running back into the offense. The bowl practices changed that and will make the sophomore more of an versatile option. Where the Crimson Tide will need him to especially shine is in the receiving game.
Hale Hentges/Irv Smith Jr: Neither is O.J. Howard, who scored big touchdowns in each of the last two title games, but look for Alabama to try and get the tight ends involved early. The more they can help loosen up the defense, the better it’ll be for the running backs, especially.
Deionte Thompson: Despite a recent injury scare that turned out to be a bone bruise, the sophomore defensive back is expected to step in for injured Hootie Jones in the nickel and dime packages. He’s played in all 12 games this season and has been credited with 18 tackles, one for a loss, and an interception. Thompson has worked his way up the depth chart and could go into next season as a frontrunner to start.
Mack Wilson: He’s coming off a fractured foot, and with so many injuries at the linebacker position the sophomore will likely be on the field a lot. Wilson’s been pretty clutch at times this season, with 3 interceptions and 22 total tackles, but it only makes sense for Clemson to test him in the running and passing games.
The guys at BamaOnline broke down some of the Alabama players that aren’t the big names like Jalen Hurts and Minkah Fitzpatrick. A big game from any of these players would be huge for Alabama. I mean, if Hale Hentges and Irv Smith, Jr. combined for 120 yards and a couple of TDs, I think that would be a pretty good indication that the Tide offense was rolling.
Hurts thought back to the first time he spoke to the media as a member of the Tide. It was last December, when Alabama provided an open-locker-room session following its humiliation of Florida in the 2016 SEC championship game. Saban’s rule on freshmen lifted after the regular season ended. As the cameras jostled around Hurts, he seemed jumpier than usual. He flashed a nervous smile. His eyes looked wide. He glanced down at the dozen foam-capped microphones hovering a few inches below his chin, then briskly back up at the reporters. “Questions?” he asked.
From then on, he spoke to assembled rooms of reporters at least once per week, and, by the time he found himself in this class, he figured he was the most experienced with the media of anyone in the room. So, he decided, he was going to talk that day.
“I feel like you should want to be genuine,” he recalls telling his classmates, “but at the end of the day the media is gonna give off the image that you give them. So, if you’re acting a certain way, if you’re talking a certain way — you’ve got to convey the message you want given.”
This is a great longform piece from the Ringer about Jalen Hurts and his personal life and how it intersects with his football life. If you have some spare time, give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.
Commits & Signees
Eyabi Anoma, 5-star DE, Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances Academy — Team Highlight
Quay Walker, 4-star LB, Cordele (Ga.) Crisp County — Team Spotlight
Walker did not sign with Alabama last week and plans to take official visits in January.
Stephon Wynn, 4-star DE, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy — Team Spotlight
Jordan Davis, 4-star DE, Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind — Team Spotlight
Xavier Williams, 4-star WR, Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna — Team Spotlight
Tommy Brown, 4-star OT, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei — Team Spotlight
Nicholas Petit-Frere, 5-star OT, Tampa (Fla.) Berkely Prep — Team Spotlight
Alabama has turned up the heat on 247Sports’ top offensive tackle. Many believe the race will come down to Alabama and Notre Dame even though Petit-Frere himself has rarely tipped his hand.
Jacob Copeland, 4-star WR, Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia — Team Highlight
Copeland appeared Alabama’s to lose after decommitted from Florida late last month, but with Pruitt leaving the Tide for the Vols, the four-star wideout’s recruitment returned to square one.
Justyn Ross, 4-star WR, Phenix City (Ala.) Central — Team Spotlight
Clemson has been the trend since the summer for the state’s top player. Alabama has continued to push, though. Ross will be on campus next month at both the Capstone and Auburn. Clemson already received an official visit.
Tyreke Smith, 4-star DE, Cleveland (Ohio) Heights — Team Highlight
Smith officially visited Alabama for the Arkansas game in October. Even though he left impressed, it still appears to be Ohio State, Penn State, or USC ahead of the Tide for the California native. Smith will make his decision on Jan. 4.
Joshua Moore, 4-star WR, Yoakum (Texas) — Team Spotlight
Moore recently decommitted from Nebraska. Alabama has shown a lot of interest and believe he can play either side of the ball.
Justin Watkins, 4-star WR, Clermont (Fla.) East Ridge — Team Highlight
Watkins will likely decide between Alabama and LSU with the Tigers currently holding a slight advantage. The Tide hosted the four-star slot earlier this month on an official visit.
Coynis Miller, 4-star DT, Birmingham (Ala.) Jackson-Olin — Team Spotlight
Miller did not sign with Auburn during the Early Signing Period leaving the door open on his recruitment. He’s already visited Alabama once since committing to the Tigers
Back to recruiting, we have the UA All-American game on January 4th when you’ll get to see a number of future Alabama players in action. Plus there are quite a few Tide targets too. Specifically, Alabama really needs another wide receiver in this class, such as Copeland or Moore.