TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Having already faced quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Chad Kelly, Brandon Allen and Joshua Dobbs this season, the vaunted defense of Alabama is no stranger to preparing for talented passers.
But Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban thinks Clemson signal-caller Deshaun Watson, whom his team will face in next Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship, will be especially tough because of his superb athleticism.
“First of all, (Watson) is an outstanding player,” Saban said. “He does a great job of executing their offense. Tremendous dual-threat (ability) in terms of being a very good passer and rushing for over 1,000 yards this year. Really is a very good rhythm passer as well as a guy who can sustain plays and extend plays because of his athleticism and ability to scramble. Really as fine a dual-threat quarterback as we’ve played against for long, long time.”
Considering the season Watson just had, few would argue with Saban’s opinion. Through 14 games, the sophomore from Gainesville, Ga., has thrown for 3,699 yards and 31 touchdowns at 68.2 percent completion rate (the No. 4 mark in the nation among qualified passers) to go with 1,032 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. His 4,731 yards of total offense also ranks fourth-best in the country.
And that’s to say nothing of the Tigers defense, which has held opponents to 20 points per game this season and while combining for 43 sacks — making it one of the select units to rival Alabama’s pass-rushing production (50 sacks).
“This is certainly going to be the most challenging game we’ve had to this point,” Saban said. “Clemson is a team that is good in all facets of the game.”