Alabama All American defensive back Patrick Surtain II says he has seen this success coming this year. In fact, Surtain says Bama has gotten better each week. “I just felt like we prepared better each and every week. “We’ve gotten better each and every week flying around to the ball, making adjustments and learning from past games where we struggled at, and sort of fixed and corrected what we needed to do.”
Surtain was among a handful of Crimson Tide players who joined Nick Saban in meeting with the media Thursday in advance of next week’s national title game against Ohio State.
Surtain Assesses Fields
His assessment of his own team’s defense is pretty similar to the one we got earlier this week from Ohio State running back Trey Sermon. Surtain said he is impressed with Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields. And so, he says, the Bama defense will again have to work on that weekly improvement. “Obviously he’s a great talent. He’s got a tremendous arm. Like I say, he’s a leader on that team. Whatever he does affects the team a lot. But we’ve just got to look at things to do to affect him as far as getting to the quarterback, pressuring him, different disguises in the back end, many different things to look at through the film room.”
The true junior from South Florida is coming home for Monday’s national championship game. He went to American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. His dad had an NFL career in Miami with the Dolphins, and later the Kansas City Chiefs.
Thus far in the 2020 season, he has 20 solo tackles, 34 total, and an interception. In the semi-final win over Notre Dame two weeks ago he had two solo tackles and one assist. He was a first team All American on the Football Writer’s Association list. He also made the list of at least four other voting panels.
Teams Putting Up Points on Bama
Ole Miss and Florida put up 48 and 46 points respectively on this Bama defense. And Ohio State’s offense was explosive in its Sugar Bowl blowout of Clemson. Defensive coordinator Pete Golding says the key will not be the numbers on the scoreboard but the execution on the field. “Yeah, I mean I think the biggest thing is fundamental execution. I don’t think we ever come out of a game looking up how many points was given up or how many did we keep them to. There were several games to where we kept them low in scoring but still didn’t execute, they just didn’t take advantage of it.”
Golding is impressed with Ohio State’s Fields, but also head coach Ryan Day as a play caller. “I think he does a really nice job of manipulating things by formation. I think a lot of formation into the boundary, they’ll shift their motion, do a lot of different things out of the same personnel grouping. He does a really nice job moving guys around in certain spots and isolating guys and trying to get them on a linebacker or get them on a safety. They do a really nice job in the run game of creating the extra gap, making you account for the quarterback.”
The Dylan Moses Factor
A critical component of Golding’s defense is going to be linebacker Dylan Moses. He opened up Thursday about what a struggle the entire 2020 season has been for him. He missed all of 2019 season with a knee injury. Then, like with most teams, the 2020 season was in jeopardy with COVID outbreaks. Then he lost his grandmother to COVID. He posted on his Instagram page last weekend that he considered walking away from the game altogether.
He said Thursday the pain has been new for him to learn to get through. “Just as far as going through pain and stuff throughout the year, the first time I felt like 100 percent myself was the very first game of the season against Missouri. After that just all throughout the season it was just constantly like pain and all that. But like I said, it was something I had to persevere through. I never had to go through a whole season feeling like that. It was new for me. But at the same time, it wasn’t nothing I couldn’t play through. Like I said, I’m really tough when it comes to dealing with a lot of pain and all that, but at the end of the day, I just wanted to be there for my teammates, make a difference, and be able to make the calls for them.”
Alabama’s high-powered offense with Heisman winning receiver DeVonta Smith has gotten the bulk of the publicity this season. But with the Ohio State’s offense playing the way it did against Clemson, it is likely to be the defense that would be the difference maker if the Tide is to win.