What Alabama said about Clemson at SEC Media Days

Alex Byington
Montgomery Advertiser

HOOVER, Alabama — More than seven months later, the lopsided result of the 2019 College Football Playoff national champion game was still fresh on the minds of players from both sidelines.

During the Southeastern Conference Media Days inside the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel, Alabama’s players were asked and answered multiple questions centered around the impact of Clemson’s 44-16 victory on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.

For the most part, the Crimson Tide representatives — head coach Nick Saban, receiver Jerry Jeudy, linebacker Dylan Moses and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — often spoke about how the uncharacteristic 28-point loss affected them personally, and how each is using it as motivation entering this season.

Jul 17, 2019; Birmingham, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban speaks with the media during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban on using the Clemson loss as motivation this season

“I think if you're a great competitor and you are in a game like we were for the national championship and you didn't perform very well, and given all much the credit to the other team who beat us and took advantage of the opportunities that they have – not to take anything away from them – but if you're a competitor, you're going to respond in a positive way and learn from the things that you didn't do, whether those things were in preparation, game-day decisions, you know, the habits that you created leading up to the game the second half of the season. … But I think that our players learned a lot from that experience.”

Tua Tagovailoa on losing the national championship

“Coming off of that loss from Clemson and then during my freshman year, we won the National Championship, I think they were both good. I know this sounds weird to lose, but when you win, it is a great feeling, and when you lose, it isn’t a great feeling. I think since we lost, it was a good experience for our team entirely, because a lot of us have come back and it is something that we don’t take for granted now. Winning isn’t something that you should take for granted.”

Tua Tagovailoa on appreciating the loss to Clemson

“I think it’s good to both have the opportunity to win and the opportunity to lose as well. I know this sounds bad, but I’m glad I had that opportunity to feel a loss like that. Because what can you learn from winning? Not as much. But when you lose, you start appreciating things a lot more, and definitely in a different perspective as well. … Many lessons have been learned from that loss.”

Jul 17, 2019; Birmingham, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa speaks with the media during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa on looking forward to potential Alabama-Clemson V

“I mean, that’d be really fun if we had the opportunity to play them again. I think our team would love that, I think their team would love that as well. It’s always good competition every time we play each other.”

Tua Tagovailoa on pressing against Clemson after falling behind early

“Looking at the scoreboard, I felt like we needed to score already, and I just didn’t take what they gave me.”

Jerry Jeudy on losing the national championship

“Yeah, it was a really tough loss last year. Clemson was a great team, but Coach Saban always says ‘So what, now what.’ So what? We lost last year. Now what? Now, what are we going to do about it to improve our game this year to not finish off the season like how we did last year.”

Dylan Moses on the loss to Clemson

“It really impacted me a lot. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Just because I felt like I didn’t do enough. But this year, I really have the mindset that I don’t want to leave the field, and that was really something I had to deal with the entire year (in 2018) because I wasn’t the Mike linebacker, so there were times I had to leave the field for the other guy to come in and take that responsibility. But now it’s like since it’s in my hands, it’s my defense, I can run it the way I want to run it. I want it to be crisp, I want things done the right way, I want to never leave the field. … Overall, I’m very eager for this season to start.”

Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)