We don’t have to tell anybody else who watched Monday night, but GREAT GAME! The line play was a great fight up front between both teams. Heisman winner Derrick Henry still got his yards and got the big yardage on that first TD run. But Clemson’s D-line still showed up to play hammering him most times he got the ball. And he took it. Both teams played tough. Clemson DE Kevin Dodd showed up to play! Now he’s heading to the NFL. The Tide’s D-line was impenetrable in the middle as expected holding Wayne Gallman to 45 yards. Bama QB Jake Coker had his best day ever, and his TE O.J. Howard scored two long TDs after not scoring any all season long. What can you say about Clemson’s QB Deshaun Watson? He didn’t let that Bama Front Four stop him. He ran for 73 yards, but it seemed like most times when he needed the yards he got them, and he was firing that ball. He never shows signs of being flustered. Walk-on WR Hunter Renfrow made the early catches in the end zone to start the scoring for the Tigers ( I don’t know, but I think I had a conversation with him at the Clemson-SC game in 2013 before the game. I was talking to this little guy who swore he was going to play for one of those team in couple of years. I looked at his picture on my Orange Bowl program and it could have been. If it was, I told him to think about D-3, but what do I know?). And give the entire Clemson offense kudos for not quitting! Despite trailing by 12, they scored a touchdown with 12 seconds left after driving 68 yards in six plays and were ready to give it a great shot if they got the ball back with seconds left. The onside kick was a great devastating call on Saban’s part ( I called it right before it happened. I wanted to call Dabo on the phone!), and Bama executed it perfectly. I only have to say that I saw it done better once before. In my first game toward this eventual goal “to see ’em all” back in 1979, the kicker from Rhode Island put a perfect spiral on the ball as the end caught it right over his left shoulder. Next play, the Rams scored from 41 yards out. Of course, Delaware dominated them, 42-14, on their way to the D2 Championship, but I digress. Fantastic! The best two teams played their hearts out and played a tremendous game that will be remembered by college football fans for a long time. The only negatives I witnessed were on O.J. Howard’s two 50+ yard TDs. Granted, shutdown CB Mackensie Alexander had re-pulled his hammy and was out, and I don’t know if the coverage would have been different, but I don’t understand why any safety would stand flat-footed (twice) to watch a receiver speed past him down field. I remember my late high school football coach Joe Molitoris always preaching to our safeties, “Play deeper than the deepest man!” Maybe it sounds too simple against today’s complex passing strategies, but it still makes sense to me when you’re the safety. Nobody else is behind you is going to pick him because there’s no one else there! He’s going to get open and quickly once he’s past you. Pass coverage nowadays drives me nuts. Physical mistakes are bound to happen, but the mental ones are inexcusable with the amount of time these guys supposedly spend watching film. Common sense (and Joe Mol’s voice) tells me to play deeper than the deepest man if I’m back at safety.
I saw Clemson beat Oklahoma and I was impressed, but now I want to see if I can get down to Clemson for a first time trip to their “Death Valley” next season and see Watson and the Tigers play again. Both teams are already favored to return to the CFP next year, but so was Ohio State the unanimous pick for this year. That didn’t happen, of course. Though both teams will be re-focused, you just never know what may happen between injuries and stunning upsets. Otherwise, why play all these games? Too bad the season seems to end so soon as usual, but what a great way to end a great season! Wish I could have gone. Maybe next year. This was a great season for all the fans, and it was special one for me having seen many great, memorable games and celebrating my 500th back on November 21st with so many good friends made over the years. Look for more post-season notes and plans for next year here regularly. They’re already in the works. Add collegefootballfan.com to your Favorite’s list. Can’t wait for next season already. How about you?