TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Off the field, Jonathan Allen’s teammates aren’t afraid to joke around with the freakishly athletic defensive lineman. Come practice time, however, they’d be forgiven if they aren’t so friendly with the 6-foot-3, 283-pounder.
“During practice, I hate the offense,” Allen said Monday. “That’s just my job. I hate the offense. So during practice I want to hit, so you always have to remember who you’re going against and what’s at stake right now.”
What’s at stake for Alabama this week, of course, is another national championship for a program now practically expected to win it every season. Standing in the way is an undefeated Clemson team that features talent aplenty on both sides of the ball, including quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson, who is one of the best dual-threat passers to face the Tide “for a long, long time” according to coach Nick Saban.
“He reminds me of (Joshua) Dobbs from Tennessee, similar characteristics. Not as big, but a dual-threat quarterback that can throw the ball,” Allen said.
Dobbs, it should be noted, was held to 13-of-22 passing for 171 yards and 19 yards rushing on 16 carries during Alabama’s 19-14 win against the Vols. Allen and fellow defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed — almost universally praised as the best front in college football — have made Saturdays painful for Dobbs and other talented quarterbacks this season.
Having the three of them on the field at the same time, Allen says, has played a huge role in his wildly productive junior campaign (12 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss).
“It makes my job so much easier,” Allen said. “I never get double-teamed, I never have a slide slid my way because they have to worry about A’Shawn and J-Reed. It really frees me up a lot.”
If Allen is that angry in practice, one can only wonder how he feels on the field. Watson may have to watch his back in next Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship.