Clemson and Alabama scored a total of 40 points in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s national championship game.
The Crimson Tide survived a wild final frame by running a perfectly executed “pop” kick. Moments after tying the contest, 24-24, they moved ahead for good thanks to a gutsy call by coach Nick Saban and the soft foot of kicker Adam Griffith.
Here were some of the coaches and players’ explanations of the game’s pivotal moment:
Saban: “I thought we had it in the game any time we wanted to do it. I made the decision to do it because the score was (24-24) and we were tired on defense and weren’t doing a great job of getting them stopped, and I felt like if we didn’t do something or take a chance to change the momentum of the game that we wouldn’t have a chance to win.” (CBSSports.com‘s Jon Solomon)
Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin: “I told our players don’t make a face because I didn’t want their sideline or the cameras to catch us making a face that it was an onside kick.” (AL.com‘s John Talty)
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart: “It’s a gutsy call. High risk, high reward. That’s what makes him a great coach.” (Talty)
Kiffin: “Ninety-nine point nine percent of coaches don’t do that because if you don’t get it, you get killed by (the media). Not one of you guys would have wrote, ‘Why did you kick it deep?’ if we lose the game.” (Solomon)
Griffith: “They were lining up on the hashes, so I had plenty of room on the sideline and the numbers. There was a huge gap.” (USAToday.com‘s Nicole Auerbach)
Cover man Marlon Humphrey: “I wish y’all knew how many times I’ve dropped it in practice. I’ve dropped that about 6-7 times in practice out of the 12 times we’ve practiced it. Dillon Lee told me, ‘Dude, just catch the ball, man.’ I actually dropped it this past Thursday in walk-through’s.” (247Sports.com‘s Charlie Potter)
College football fans watched in shock as Griffith popped up the kick 15 yards downfield toward to the right sideline. Humphrey made the catch, and Alabama quickly grabbed a 31-24 lead.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: “Hey, great play by them. It was a great kick. First of all, he put it right in a good spot, and their kid did a great job of going and getting it. It was a huge play.” (TigerNet.com)
Dillon Lee, part of the kickoff coverage team, summed it up for AL.com‘s Kevin Scarbinsky.
Lee: “It shows we still set the standard in college football. Coach Saban has some big-ass balls.”
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