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January 9, 2017

Jonathan Allen

O.J. Howard

Nick Saban

Tampa, Florida

Clemson - 35, Alabama - 31

NICK SABAN: Well, first of all, I have to say that I'm extremely proud of our team for what they were able to accomplish this entire season. I don't think one game defines who you are, you know, as a person, as a competitor, or as a team and certainly not define what this group of young men was able to accomplish this year. It was a hard-fought game out there today, very disappointing to lose a game like that, and I wish there was something else that I could do for the players to help them be more successful in the game.

But to the older guys on our team, the seniors, their leadership has been commendable all season long, and these guys have accomplished a tremendous amount of success for the University of Alabama in the years that they've been here. To win three straight SEC Championships, to be in the playoffs three straight years, to win a National Championship last year, you know, these guys have really done a fantastic job of representing the university, and I'm really proud of these guys and they're winners in every way.

As I said before, one game doesn't define a team, and I think our team demonstrated time and time again this year that they were winners. I'm extremely disappointed that we didn't have a better outcome today, but I'm also at the same time very proud of what this group of young men was able to accomplish.

Q. Coach, if you could just sum up what you felt like was the difference tonight in this game.
NICK SABAN: Well, I think our guys played really, really hard. I think they made some fantastic catches and some great throws and catches, and the last couple drives when they had the ball, and you know, we just didn't make a play when we needed to. We needed to get a sack. We needed to get a takeaway. We needed to get a stop in the red zone, and they made the plays and we didn't. Look, there's not one play in the game that makes a difference in a game. We could have done a lot of things a lot better. But I have to say that I was proud of the way our guys competed in the game, and just sorry for all of them that we didn't finish it better.

Q. Coach, if any presented themselves, what were the challenges of changing offensive coordinators, and how do you think you guys handled it this weekend and tonight?
NICK SABAN: I think the players handled it very well. I think we scored 31 points in the game, which I think was pretty good against a pretty good defense that actually shut out Ohio State last week. I think we had some drops. I think we had some tipped balls. I think there was things that we could have done better. But I thought the preparation was good. I thought the organization was good, and I thought we gave our players a chance in this game to have success.

Was it challenging? Yes. Did everyone involved handle it extremely well? Absolutely.

Q. Nick, how badly did you miss Bo Scarbrough when he went out? He's been able to salt games away for you, and not having him available for most of the second half, how difficult was that?
NICK SABAN: Well, Bo has really come on and played extremely well the last three or four games of the season. He's certainly been a bell cow for us, and he has certainly, because of his size and durability, he makes it difficult when the defense gets worn down a little bit. Not to have him was probably a little bit of a disadvantage for us, but I was pleased with the way the other backs that had an opportunity in the game, Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris played. We always miss a guy that's Bo Scarbrough, size, especially when you want to run the ball and take some time off the clock.

Q. Nick, to experience such a gut-wrenching loss, how does this feeling compare to the pain of any other loss you've experienced in your career?
NICK SABAN: Well, I think every loss is very painful, and my loss is really for the bad feeling that I have for the players who have worked so hard to create this opportunity for themselves and not to be able to finish this is very disappointing for me. But because of them. And what I would, as a coach, love to see this team have been able to accomplish and achieve, which was a goal they worked very hard for.

That's the part that makes it difficult. But every loss, if you're a competitor, is never good. But these kind, when you had a great season and the players had done so much to create an opportunity, it's tough to lose this way. But I will say this: That you have to give a lot of credit to Clemson, because they made some really good plays down the stretch. They made some great catches, and we never got the ball down and we never got done what we needed to do. We had our chances, and there's nobody that we can blame but ourselves.

Q. Obviously you and Coach Swinney showed a lot of mutual respect the other day. Out there it was a wild celebration. You made sure you found him. Can you talk about what you think this means to Dabo, about the job that he did and just your patience in searching him out, you weren't going to leave the field until you found him?
NICK SABAN: Well, Dabo is a friend. He's an Alabama person. He was at our university, went to our university, and I think he's done a great job of managing, supporting the University of Alabama, Coach Stallings, some of the things that we've done together. So I have a lot of respect for him as a person. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. He has a really good team, and I have a lot of respect for their team.

As disappointed as we were, I always think the classy thing to do is always congratulate the other person for what they were able to accomplish, so I thought it was important to do that, especially for somebody that I consider a friend.

Q. Ultimately what would you like this team to be remembered for looking back?
NICK SABAN: Well, I will remember this team as a group of winners, great competitors, guys that showed tremendous resiliency throughout this season. In some of the games we got down in, some of the games we didn't play very well, they kept coming back. It was demonstrated in this game today. We got behind 28-24 and the offense went down and found a way to score to get us ahead 31-28 to give us a chance to win. We just didn't get them stopped defensively.

So I think the perseverance and the resiliency that this team has showed certainly makes them winners in my book, and I'll always remember them for that.

Q. Jonathan, this was a very physical football game on both sides. Deshaun Watson got hit a lot and got hit hard but just kept coming back and ultimately ended up winning the game for them. Can you talk about what type of player he is and what type of game tonight and how you guys just couldn't make the final stops?
JONATHAN ALLEN: You've got to give him a lot of credit. He's a competitor and that's what you expect. It was a full 60-minute game and we knew that going into this game it was going to be that. He made the plays when they needed and we didn't, so you've got to give Clemson the credit; they won the game.

Q. Jonathan, just talk about Deshaun Watson, and he seemed to be rattled in the first half. Did you have a sense of that? And also, if you could describe sort of what happened on the touchdown with one second left.
JONATHAN ALLEN: You know, I never got the sense that he was rattled. I know Deshaun Watson through secondhand people, and he's such a great competitor. I knew he was going to come back strong in the second half. They made the adjustments they needed to and we didn't. The last play of the game I'm not really sure what happened. I was on the line trying to rush. That's something I'll have to go back and look at film and answer the question at a later time.

Q. O. J., it may be too soon for you to answer this, but I want to ask anyway because I think many of us have seen a lot of football games but have never seen quite the roller coaster that this one was, especially in that last quarter. Can you describe just the ups and downs and how you deal with this in real time, how your head feels besides having lost what was an amazing game?
O.J. HOWARD: Well, like Coach always says, it's going to be a 60 minute game, so that's basically what it was. We couldn't get the ball going a lot on offense, but we had to stay patient and keep working hard, trust our offense, and they went down and scored, we came back and scored with two minutes left. So it was just an up and down game like you're saying, but that's football. Clemson is a great team, and we knew it was going to be a tough game. Basically that's just football, you've got to go out and play for 60 minutes.

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