Jerry Jeudy

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Interceptions galore in Alabama spring game

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Five players threw passes during Alabama’s A-Day Game on Saturday, and four of them were intercepted. The only one who wasn’t? Redshirt freshman Slade Bolden, who plays wide receiver.

All four of the Tide’s quarterbacks were picked off throughout the course of the scrimmage, including Tua Tagovailoa. He was 19-of-37 for 265 yards with a touchdown and a pick, as his Crimson side fell to the White, 31-17. His scoring strike came on a 54-yard toss to Jerry Jeudy with 2:10 left to play, nudging the White’s deficit from three to two touchdowns.

Still, those two will be just fine, despite the loss. The real competition was to see who will be Tua’s backup, a battle waged between sophomore Mac Jones and true freshman Tualia Tagovailoa.

Both players played for the White team, leading the second-team offense against the second-team defense. Jones was 19-of-23 for 271 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, while the younger Tagovailoa was 6-of-9 for 93 yards with a score and a pick. Fourth-stringer Paul Tyson was 1-of-5 for 8 yards with a 30-yard pick-six to linebacker Jaylen Moody.

In addition to the four picks, the Alabama quarterbacks were credited with taking a combined 12 sacks.

Junior Brian Robinson, Jr. led the Tide’s ground efforts with 42 yards on 11 carries, while sophomore wide receiver Chadarius Townsend carried four times for 30 yards and junior running back Najee Harris carried nine times for 23 yards and a touchdown. Robinson also caught six passes for 52 yards.

Freshman John Metchie hauled in five passes for a game-high 133 yards, while Jeudy snared five balls for 104 yards and a touchdown, and junior Devonta Smith caught six passes for 95 yards. Freshman linebacker Shane Lee led all defenders with eight tackles. Lee joined senior defensive back Trevon Diggs (pictured, right), sophomore defensive back Eddie Smith and Moody in snatching interceptions. Nine different players combined to create Alabama’s 12 sacks; sophomore defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, sophomore linebacker Christopher Allen and freshman defensive lineman Antonio Alfano each registered two.

Alabama opens its 2019 campaign opposite Duke Aug. 31 in Atlanta.

Reports: Michigan hiring Alabama coach Josh Gattis as new offensive coordinator

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It appears Nick Saban will be undergoing yet another extensive staff overhaul following the national title game for the second year in a row.

Per The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Michigan is set to hire away Alabama co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Josh Gattis. He is expected to be the Wolverines’ next offensive coordinator and likely will be calling plays, something he didn’t do with the Crimson Tide this past season.

The move only adds to the fairly extensive staff changes in both Tuscaloosa and Ann Arbor. Gattis’ fellow co-coordinator Mike Locksley was hired as the head coach at Maryland and Tide offensive line coach Brent Key just took a position at his alma mater of Georgia Tech earlier on Thursday. UM’s wide receivers coach Jim McElwain departed for the head coaching gig at Central Michigan in December and was one of a number of assists to leave Big Blue.

There’s little questioning the impact that Gattis had in his short stint with Alabama though, mentoring Jerry Jeudy to the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver as well as developing Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III, Irv Smith Jr. and several others. Prior to heading South, he spent four years at Penn State and played a big role in recruiting and coaching a handful of NFL guys in Happy Valley.

Gattis will join Pep Hamilton (passing game coordinator/QBs), Jay Harbaugh (running backs), Sherrone Moore (tight ends) and Ed Warinner (offensive line) on Jim Harbaugh’s offensive staff.

Tigers, Tide and oh my: Clemson routs Alabama to secure 2019 National Championship

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Clemson players said all week in the lead up to the 2019 National Championship Game that in order for the them to be the best, they would have to beat the best.

Top ranked and undefeated Alabama, as the defending champion, certainly qualified as that.

The Tigers not only beat the Tide, they beat them down and then some on Monday night, dominating from the opening snap of a 44-16 rout at Levi’s Stadium to secure the program’s third national title and second in three seasons.

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence started off a little anxious but eventually looked right at home as the game wore on — and very much like somebody who will be playing in more NFL stadiums in just a few years. He tossed a 62-yard bomb to Tee Higgins to get the team in the red zone in the first quarter and wound up with an impressive 347 yards and a trio of touchdown passes.

While Lawrence looked nothing like a true freshman under center, tailback Travis Etienne also proved to be a great compliment in the backfield. The sophomore had a touchdown reception off a shuffle pass and scored twice on the ground with some terrific bursts of speed while recording 86 yards rushing.

Oh, and wide receiver Justyn Ross was basically a man among boys as a pass catcher with a handful of one-handers on his way to 153 yards and a touchdown. Just down the road from where Jerry Rice made his name, the young wideout (he’s a freshman too…) from Alabama certainly haunted the home state team he nearly signed with coming out of high school.

It was safe to say that last year’s title game hero was nowhere near the same kind of quarterback on the same stage in 2019. Tua Tagovailoa was actually one of the early front-runners for MVP in the contest… for both sides.

After his defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, Clemson corner A.J. Terrell jumped a short pass in the flat and had nobody anywhere close to him as he ran it back 44 yards to delight the orange and purple fans for a pick-six on the seventh play of the game.

The Hawaiian signal-caller bounced back on the next series to toss a beautiful 62-yard bomb right into the waiting hands of Jerry Jeudy but never could get the offense into the end zone enough to make things interesting as things wore on. Tagovailoa finished the up-and-down outing with a respectable 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns (to the Tide) but did throw another interception and was eventually replaced in the fourth quarter by SEC Championship Game star Jalen Hurts.

It’s been rare to see the Crimson Tide get run off the field by anybody since Nick Saban took over and it’s downright galling to see it be done on this stage. It’s not just the worst loss — by several multiples — in the Saban era but also the first time since he arrived in Tuscaloosa that the team has been beaten by more than three scores.

While one can sometimes say it’s just not your night in big games like this, that would be doing a big disservice to the dominance that Clemson displayed form their early pick-six all the way through to the final minutes. Dabo Swinney has not only built an equal to one of college football’s great dynasties but he’s proven that he’s got one too.

The Tigers became the first modern college football team at the FBS level to go 15-0 in the process to cap off the 2018 season. They not only won the national title, they left no doubt about who is atop the mountain now too.

Clemson strikes first with pick-six off Tagovailoa, Crimson Tide respond with big play

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After the Clemson offense opened up the College Football Playoff national championship by going three-and-out, the Tigers opened the scoring with a defensive touchdown instead. A.J. Terrell jumped in front of a receiver to take a pass thrown by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and returning it 44 yards for an early touchdown in Santa Clara.

The score gave Clemson a 7-0 lead. It was the first time Clemson has scored first against Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Tagovailoa immediately took the blame for misreading the field and missing Terrell in that spot of the field. The good news for Alabama is it did not take long for Tagovailoa to make up for his mistake. Shortly after getting the ball back, Tagovailoa dropped back and unloaded on a deep pass to Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy for a 62-yard touchdown to even the game in the blink of an eye.

We have only played three minutes so far, so get settled in. We could be in for a fun night in Levi’s Stadium.

CFT Previews & Predictions: Clemson-Alabama Tale of the Tape

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WHO
No. 2 Clemson (14-0) vs. No. 1 Alabama (14-0)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Presented by AT&T

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET (8:17 p.m. ET kickoff)

WHERE
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

HEAD COACHES
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (115-30 in 11 seasons with the Tigers; one national championship)
Alabama’s Nick Saban (142-20 in 12 seasons with the Crimson Tide, 233-62-1 overall; six national championships)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Clemson
Passing: Trevor Lawrence, 239-365 (65.5%), 2,933 yards, 27 touchdowns, four interceptions
Rushing: Travis Etienne, 1,583 yards, 22 touchdowns
Receiving: Tee Higgins, 56 receptions, 855 yards, 11 touchdowns
Punt returns: Amari Rodgers, 7.7 yards per on 39 returns, one touchdown
Kick returns: Derion Kendrick, 23 yards per on 13 returns
Punting: Will Spiers, 39.5 yards per, 19 of 61 inside the 20
Kicking: Greg Huegel, 10-15 field goals, long of 49; 71-72 extra points
Tackles: Isaiah Simmons, 88
Tackles for loss: Clelin Ferrell, 18
Sacks: Ferrell, 11½
QB Hits: Dexter Lawrence, 15
Interceptions: Tanner Muse, A.J. Terrell, two
Passes breakups: Simmons, Terrell, K’Von Wallace, seven

Alabama
Passing: Tua Tagovailoa, 223-321 (69.5%), 3,671 yards, 41 touchdowns, four interceptions
Rushing: Damien Harris, 819 yards; Josh Jacobs, 11 touchdowns
Receiving: Jerry Jeudy, 63 receptions, 1,176 yards, 13 touchdowns
Punt returns: Jaylen Waddle, 15.1 per on 15 returns, one touchdown
Kick returns: Jacobs, 30.6 per on 13 returns, one touchdown
Punting: Mike Bernier, 37 yards per, four of 23 inside the 20
Kicking: Joseph Bulovas, 13-17 field goals, long of 49; 74-79 extra points
Tackles: Dylan Moses, 82
Tackles for loss: Quinnen Williams, 18
Sacks: Isaiah Buggs, 9½
QB Hits: Williams, Christian Miller, 12
Interceptions: Saivion Smith, three
Passes breakups: Anfernee Jennings, Shyheim Carter, 10

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Alabama’s 34th-ranked rush offense (202 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 2nd-ranked run defense (92.6 ypg)
Clemson’s 10th-ranked rush offense (256.3 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 19th-ranked run defense (120.3 ypg)
Alabama’s 6th-ranked pass offense (325.6 ypg) vs. Clemson’s 16th-ranked pass defense (182.1 ypg)
Clemson’s 24th-ranked pass offense (274.1 ypg) vs. Alabama’s 22nd-ranked pass defense (187.6 ypg)
Alabama’s 2nd-ranked scoring offense (47.7 ppg) vs. Clemson’s top-ranked scoring defense (12.9 ppg)
Clemson’s 4th-ranked scoring offense (44.3 ppg) vs. Alabama’s 5th-ranked scoring defense (16.1 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Texas A&M
Clemson won 28-26 Sept. 8 in College Station, Alabama won 45-23 Sept. 22 in Tuscaloosa.

Louisville
Clemson won 77-16 Nov. 3 in Clemson, Alabama won 51-14 Sept. 1 on a neutral field.

LOSSES
None for either team as this will mark the first time in the five-year history of the College Football Playoff that two undefeated teams will be playing in the national championship game.

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Clemson 11, Alabama 9
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: Clemson 3, Alabama 5
Wins in true road games: Clemson 5, Alabama 4
Wins by 10-plus points: Clemson 12, UA 13

THE BOVADA.LV LINE
Clemson, +5 (opened +6)
Over/under, 61

THE PREDICTIONS
Zach Barnett
Here’s a stat for you: in his two title bouts with Clemson, Deshaun Watson was a combined 66-of-103 for 825 yards with seven touchdowns against one interception, leading his Tigers to 40 and 35 points. In eight quarters against the most fearsome defense this side of the ’85 Bears, Watson and company averaged around 100 yards, a touchdown and field goal. If Clemson is to do the unthinkable for the second time in three years, true freshman Trevor Lawrence will have to put up similar numbers and a similar volume, keeping Alabama’s ultra-efficient offense off the field. I think they will.
Clemson 38, Alabama 34

Bryan Fisher
I’ve seen both the Tigers and the Crimson Tide win national titles before and the fourth edition of their heavyweight fight might just be the best yet. It’s got great quarterbacks, some terrific receivers and running backs, plus a host of defenders that will be playing on Sundays. Alabama will get pushed plenty by Dabo Swinney‘s side but the SEC champs have played at another gear, for the most part, this season and will wind up with Nick Saban lifting yet another trophy in a thriller out West.
Alabama 31, Clemson 27

Kevin McGuire
A season that was billed as a season-long exhibition before Alabama and Clemson square off in the national championship has delivered once again. Seeing Tua Tagovailoa appear to be just fine last week against Oklahoma was an encouraging sign for the Tide as they prepare to face the stiffest defensive challenge they have seen this season in the Tigers. The last two championship bouts between these two were instant classics, and we could very well have a third on our hands. This game has the look of a defensive battle, but the quarterback play is just too good to be stopped. In the end, Tagovailoa leads Alabama to one more critical touchdown drive than Trevor Lawrence and Alabama wins yet another championship.
Alabama 36, Clemson 31

John Taylor
I’ve picked against Alabama each of the past two title games — Georgia following the 2017 regular season, Clemson the year before — and the Crimson Tide split those meetings.  This year, Nick Saban has arguably his best squad overall during his dozen seasons in Tuscaloosa, with an offense that’s head and shoulders in the passing game above anything the future College Football Hall of Famer has ever fielded.  All of the ingredients are there for back-to-back national titles for Saban… for Saban to pass the legendary Bear Bryant for most career championships… for Saban to cement his legacy as the GOAT at this level… and yet I’m going with Dabo Swinney — with a heaping helping of Trevor Lawrence, a quarterback the likes of which ‘Bama hasn’t faced this season — to spoil yet another Tide coronation and pick up his second national championship at the expense of his nemesis the past four years.
Clemson 34, Alabama 31