Clemson players have repeatedly said they want payback Monday night for the loss to Alabama last season in the national championship game, but the Crimson Tide defense is out for revenge as well.
Alabama defeated the Tigers 45-40 last January in Arizona, but several players on that Alabama defense say they were disappointed with the way they played.
The 550 yards of offense put up by Clemson is the most the Crimson Tide has allowed since 2014.
“We’re licking our chops too, even though we won. We want to come out and have a great performance and go out and do what we need to do to gain that standard,” Alabama linebacker Tim Williams said. “Clemson is the only team that has ever done that to Alabama in the past two years. That’s fact. That’s something you can’t take from them. We’ve got to go out there and show them, ‘OK, you haven’t seen ’Bama’s best yet.’”
Williams has 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks this season, and believes this Alabama defense is better than the one Clemson put up 40 points on a year ago.
Statistically, the Crimson Tide are allowing 13 less yards and two less points per game than at this time last year.
“We’ve got way more speed than we had out there last year,” Williams said.
Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who leads Alabama with six interceptions, is anxious to make amends for last year’s defensive performance as well.
“It’s a rematch for us too, not just for them, and revenge for us too because we didn’t play a real good game last year,” he said. “We kind of want to show them how we really play because they caught us on a bad day.”
Fitzpatrick added slowing down Deshaun Watson will be key for Alabama. Clemson’s star quarterback passed for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s game.
“He was running all over the place and making a lot of plays with his feet. He’s going to make some this year too, but we’re going to have to contain him a whole lot more,” Fitzpatrick said. “It wasn’t really a lot of things that they were doing. It was stuff that we were messing up, and that’s kind of the only time when teams have success on us when we make mistakes.”