|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
January 5, 2019
Santa Clara, California
Q. Damien, could you tell me a little bit about (inaudible) this offense, talked about a little. You were really successful.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I think being able to run the ball effectively kind of sets the tone for our offense. It starts off with our O line, they set the tempo of the game. They let us come out and start the game physical. The pass game is great. But I do still think that the run game is pretty important. And I think we've done a good job of handling that this year.
All the running backs, whenever our number has been called, we've all been able to make plays. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to do that this week.
Q. Most running backs are trying to avoid linebackers and safeties. When you run the ball looks like you're looking for contact. You don't mind running people over. What's your mindset, not only you, but the entire running back room who is running the ball?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Whoever is most physical wins the battle. We don't like to get hits or take hits; we like to deliver them. We know that when defenses come and hit us, if we deliver the blow, they won't want to keep tackling us. That's our mindset. By the end of the third and fourth quarter, we don't want teams to be able to tackle us anymore. It's the physical mindset we bring to the table.
Q. Are the glasses for looks or do you need them?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I do need them. They're actually prescription.
Q. This day itself, you've been here before (inaudible) what's it like for you to once again come back (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, I mean, it's great. I always enjoy getting to come out here, talk to you guys, get to talk about my teammates, build my teammates up, just have a good time. This is actually my last time doing this.
They told me that before I came up here on the podium. So I definitely will miss you guys and miss having the opportunity to come out here and represent the University of Alabama.
Q. How times have you had a chance to (inaudible) this school (inaudible) each time is it different? Is it unique based on the location?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, I mean, every opportunity you get is different. With this being the last one, I'm definitely taking it in more. Just enjoying everything, trying to live in the moment.
But I want to -- I don't want to get too caught up in it. I know we still have a very important game to play. That's kind of what my focus is right now.
Q. From an expectation standpoint, do you know what Clemson -- anything you see from them that you expect from the offense?
DAMIEN HARRIS: No, you know, playing them for the fourth year in a row, we kind of know what to expect. It's going to be an extremely physical game, all phases of the game offense, defense, special teams. We know we have to come because whoever has been the more physical team in this game has always come out on top. We know there's lots of Xs and Os. Have to put together a great offensive game plan. But ultimately we believe it comes down to who is the more physical team and who plays more disciplined football. I'm sure it won't be no different this week.
Q. (Indiscernible) across the country (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Not necessarily. We love our fans. We know that they travel and that they do everything that they can to support us.
But, ultimately, that doesn't really do anything in between the white lines. We know we still have to take care of business regardless if we have one fan there or a million fans there. That's not really going to change the outcome of the game.
Of course, we appreciate the support, and that means the world to us. But ultimately we know that we have to be the ones on the field that are taking care of business.
Q. You told me after the LSU game this was why you came to Alabama, more passion behind the pads. I love that quote from you. Describe this game, how similar it is to when it comes to round four like a Rocky movie?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, this is another one of those games that you come to this university for, to play in these prime time games against a really tough opponent. That's what this program is sold on, being in these big moments, always having an opportunity to play for something special. That's what I believed in whenever I was getting recruited and that's why I came here, to be in these big-time moments to have a chance to cement the legacy. And we've won two out of the last three National Championships and we're looking for another one.
I would say to recruits that are looking for a school to come play, I mean, what better place to come than try to cement a legacy.
Q. You've come a long way since you were a freshman. Describe what Derrick Henry meant to you and how much you've changed as a player.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Derrick did so much for me. People think that just watching him, the season that he had, the stats that he had is what kind of motivated me. But I think the biggest thing that Derrick taught me was how to be a pro, how to practice at a high level.
Because all the success he had on the field was due to the fact how he prepared, how he took care of his body, all the things he did off the field, not necessarily in the game that allowed him to play great Saturday after Saturday after Saturday. So that work ethic.
How he challenged himself, how he pushed himself day in, day out, that really meant a lot to me, because my freshman year I didn't really know how to play the game yet.
I knew what to do, but I didn't know how hard I had to work. I didn't know the things that it took to become that great player, that elite player that Derrick was. So I think after watching him for a full year, I started to develop that mindset and that mentality of if I want to be the best player I have to be it's not just going to happen on Saturday.
So I was really thankful to play for somebody that was that talented but also that worked that hard.
Q. (Indiscernible). Getting ready. Talk about that Clemson front, what you see on film and how you --
DAMIEN HARRIS: Their game plan records. We watched them on tape. They have so many disruptive plays. They cause so much havoc for the offense that they're playing. Their front seven is extremely physical and talented and they have a lot of guys in the back end can run well with the receivers and make plays on the ball. But, like I said earlier, I think the team that's more physical is the team that wins. There's not a lot of tricks that are going to be in this game. We know them. They know us. So it's going to come down to who plays the best fundamentally and who is the most physical team.
Q. You've been in the same locker room with Ross for several years. Describe your relationship with him.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Feels like we've been here forever. Me and Ross developed a great friendship. He's one of the keys to our offense. Everything runs through them. He's kind of the anchor. He makes the calls and we follow. So just the friendship I've developed with him off the field has been special as well. Ross is a tremendous guy. He has a lot of great character.
Just a guy that you really want in your locker room. A guy that was very deserving of being selected a captain. So being able to share that honor with him is truly special, and playing with guys like Ross makes this game fun and it's something you always remember.
Q. What does he bring, having a guy with that much experience?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I feel like he started, what, a hundred games, something like that. Just his experience. He's been in every situation. Just that poise and that demeanor that he has in big games like this in tough situations. He's always giving us confidence.
We know -- like I said, everything starts through him. And he kind of gets us right. Having a guy that's been in these kind of circumstances, it's always helpful for us.
Q. Early in the season you guys maybe didn't have as much success closing out games as you would like to getting the ball back (inaudible) finishing out the game. What did you think (inaudible) throughout the season?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I mean, I don't know. We played a lot of tough games. It's not always easy just to close a team out, especially when you're playing a good team. I think that was something that we emphasized throughout the course of the season, something we were able to improve on. So I think the drive we had against Oklahoma last week to kind of finish out the game on the ground with the ball in our hands and a victory formation, that's the best formation in football.
For us to be able to do that I think it shows we improved a lot on offense and an area we're able to get better at.
Q. What's your perfect sandwich? I know you eat good. What's your favorite sandwich?
DAMIEN HARRIS: My perfect sandwich. I don't know. I go to Subway a lot. Maybe a chicken, bacon and ranch.
Q. What does it mean to have so many, having so many guys that are making an impact?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I mean, it's obviously great for our offense. Being a running back at the university is something that we take a lot of pride in.
So every day, every guy in that room goes in with the mentality of upholding the standard that guys before us have set. The Glen Coffees, and Mark Ingrams, Trent Richardsons, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, all those guys that laid the foundation for us and built a legacy within that room. Every day it's our job to uphold to that standard.
Every day we just go in with the mentality we're going to be the best players we can be, be the best unit we can be.
Guys like this guy, like Shaun Alexander. But we just want to go in and just be the best unit we can be. Anytime our number is called, whoever is in, they've got to make a play. So that's kind of the mentality we have.
Q. Clemson again. (Inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I guess so. Everybody says that they're tired of watching us play. But year in, year out we proved that we're the best two teams, and we play tough. We take care of our business in the regular season. That's why we keep meeting here.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I wouldn't say there's any concerns. I would say that they just pose a lot of things that can challenge you as an offense. Their front seven is obviously -- they've got a couple of first round picks over there. Their secondary, guys in the back end that can make plays on the ball.
They just have talent all over the field. We know they can present us with a lot of challenges. But we're confident in our coaches, first and foremost. They have put together the best game plan in order for us to be successful. We're confident in ourselves as players to be able to go out and execute. So we're looking forward to another great challenge.
Q. A team in your league, played them every year. What's it like to play Clemson again?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I guess it wouldn't be right if we didn't end the season like this. Having an opportunity to play another great Clemson team and another key situation, a big-time game, I really wouldn't want it any other way. They're a great team. It's become a great rivalry. Just playing them year in, year out, the two best teams in college football. This year it will be no different. I'm sure it will be another instant classic. Looking forward to another great game.
Q. The development of the sophomore year, the season starting, how much (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, I think he's become an incredible leader. Since he stepped on campus everybody knew he was a great quarterback. There was never any question in anybody's mind about that.
But I think there's been certain moments that he's just stepped up and embraced such a leadership role. The way he was able to respond after the SEC Championship, that was a tough game for him.
Not only did he get injured, but before that, it was a tough game for him. And Georgia presented a lot of challenges for him. But the way he was able to overcome all that adversity against a great Oklahoma team and be able to show his resiliency and determination and grit and all the things he brings to the table every single day he went and showed it on the national stage. Things like that give us all the confidence in the world in him, shown he's an incredible leader, tremendous player. You can't really ask for much more in a quarterback.
DAMIEN HARRIS: The character that Jalen has shown has just been something like I've never seen before. A lot of guys in his situation, his circumstances, would just kind of throw in the towel and give up, just to be honest, to put it point-blank. A lot of guys just give up.
But just the character that he's shown every single day he shows up with the intentions to just be the best version of himself no matter what the circumstances are.
And that's why in all the big moments that he's been thrown in the fire, it's been no pressure. He's gone out and performed. Just as well, if not better, than he did the last year and year before. So we're really lucky to have a guy like Jalin on our team. He's an inspiration for us all. Once-in-a-generation type of player, not just for what he does on the field, but the character and the qualities he exudes off the field.
Q. How do you feel this being your last game with Alabama and all the years --
DAMIEN HARRIS: I don't even have words to describe it. This is my last game being able to represent this university. But it's been an incredible four years. I felt very blessed to be part of this program, getting coached by Coach Saban and Coach Locksley and getting to play with these tremendous men for four years.
There's not really words to put into it. I'm going to miss it a lot. I've been very fortunate. But I'm not really doing too much reflection yet because we've still got another game to play. I'll worry about it after the game.
Q. How did you feel when you were able to have this kind of atmosphere, pro football team, basically (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: You know, a lot of times you hear people say: Act like you've been there before. Fortunately for us we have been here before. So it's nothing new to us. We know how to handle it.
We're not caught up in the lights and the cameras, the fact that we're playing for a national championship. This is our biggest game because it's our next game. Regardless of who we're playing, regardless of the circumstances we're playing in, it's the next game.
And at the beginning of the year, when we set our goals, our goal isn't to beat Clemson or to beat LSU, or whoever, it's to play to our standard. Because we feel if we play our best football, we're the best team in college football. And I think we've proven that in the past couple of years.
So, like I said, our goal is just to be who we are and play our game. And we feel like the rest will take care of itself.
Q. (Inaudible) the next game and the last game, does it have any bearing that there's not one in front of you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yes and no. Obviously you're going to think about that. But subconsciously you have to force yourself on it being the next game because at the end of the day it is the next game, regardless if it's the last game, it's still just the next game.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I didn't even realize that we had a new offensive coordinator every time we play Clemson. Every coordinator brings something different to the table. Every coach is different. Everybody has different styles and different ways they want to call plays. Different feel for the game. But Coach Locksley has done a great job all year putting us in the best position to have success on offense this year no matter who we were playing. We really expect nothing less against a great Clemson team.
DAMIEN HARRIS: There's a different coordinator here, so obviously things are a little different. I wasn't caught up in that whenever I made my decision where I wanted to play football.
Ultimately, I came to play in big-time games like this. Seems like every game that we play we get a team's best shot and everybody has us circled on their calendar year in, year out.
Why not come here? And this is the best place to build your legacy as a player and as a teammate. So ultimately that was why I ended upcoming here.
Q. What was your rating on NCAA football (inaudible) he said 97. What would yours be and what would be the highest rated player on the offense?
DAMIEN HARRIS: On offense, I definitely think Tua would be the highest rated player on our offense. What do you think I would be rated on NCAA?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Wow. I was going to say like 91. 92. But Holly is so nice, she put me at 98.7. Thank you, Holly.
Q. How do you look at Clemson (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Another rivalry game. All the things that we've gone through from watching Derrick Henry, how he played against them in 2015. Like you said, two years ago, when we played them in the National Championship and Bo went down, I felt like I was forgotten about. I had a thousand-yard season that year.
Definitely when we played them next year I had a little extra motivation and a little presence about myself, a chip on my shoulder, if you will, to go out and prove that I'm still the guy that I was before the Clemson game. Bo had a great end of the season that year back in 2016. Not trying to take anything away from him.
Whenever he got hurt, it was kind of like, oh, what will we do in the run game. I feel like I was jumping in the back of a crowd trying to raise my hand saying I'm still back here. Like I said, I carried that chip on my shoulder the next year. But this year it's a little bit different. I played well against them. I'm just trying to go out there and whatever this team needs me to do in order to win this game, that's what I want to do.
Regardless if it's run the ball 15 times or five, we know we have a lot of power on offense and a lot of guys that can make explosive plays it's hard to spread one football around. But for this game I don't even care. I just want to go out and win this game, it being the last one, National Championship, biggest stage that we can possibly be on, that's kind of my focus for this week.
Q. This is the last media frenzy for now. Is it bittersweet right now?
DAMIEN HARRIS: It's honestly really early. That's how I would describe it. It's so early in the morning. I haven't really had enough time to reflect. Like I feel as soon as I got up I brushed my teeth and got on the bus.
But, yeah, all this is really bittersweet. I love having the opportunity to come out here and talk to you guys. Get to build up my teammates. Talk about our team, our organization. It's all been really fun. I definitely am going to miss hanging out with you guys, standing up here next to Coach Saban and Coach Locksley and all these great guys. And it being the last game, going out playing with these guys, it's going to mean a lot to me. Hopefully we can finish it out the right way.
Q. How do you like the area?
DAMIEN HARRIS: We haven't really done much yet. We got here last night pretty late. We had our little introduction and then we all kind of just went to bed. Everybody was so tired from traveling. And first thing this morning we're up here talking to you guys.
It's been a good time so far. We always love trips like this, getting to go out, see new places. This is my first time in California. So I'm not disappointed at all. I'm definitely glad to be here.
Q. A song about California.
DAMIEN HARRIS: It's such an on-the-spot question. It is. Let me think about it and maybe ask me later.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Coach Locksley has been a great play caller for us. He's been a great leader for our offense. Every single week he puts us in the best position to be successful on offense. He's a guy that off the field. As a player, that's the guy you want to be your offensive coordinator. Full of energy and life and full of youth. Does so many different things. He's easy to get along with. Chemistry on offense is incredible. We sit around, joke around and have a good time. But we know there's a time to be serious. Sometimes we have to put that to the side and focus up on the task at hand.
But a guy like Coach Locksley is somebody that Maryland's incredible lucky to have him as their next head coach. Hopefully we can send him out the right way with a National Championship.
Q. You and the other running backs on the team, different guys, even last (inaudible) Najee, and Josh had a good game. Having a part of a running back committee like that what's that meant to you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: It's been incredibly special. Every single year, you know, we've been a group by committee. My freshman year, it was Kenyan and Derrick. And my sophomore year it was me and Bo. Last year it was me, Bo, Josh and Najee. Now me and Josh, Najee, Brian, Ronnie Clark. It's an incredible honor to play this position first and foremost. You look at the guys that have played before us that have laid the foundation and they hold this position at such a high standard.
It's our job to continue to play to that standard and continue to be that Alabama running back. So day in, day out we just show up with the mentality of being the best version of ourselves and collectively we'll be the best group we can possibly be.
So we just take a lot of pride with playing this position, and I think we've done a great job all year just whenever our name and number is called somebody has always stepped up and made a play.
Q. How much will that (inaudible) by committee help preserve your body, so to speak, these years in college and where you're at right now?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Absolutely. Nobody has to take on a huge workload. I think Derrick Henry is the only guy that's ever had an incredible workload.
He had like, what, 400 carries. With Kenyan going down, and me and Bo not necessarily being ready to play that year, he had to take on an incredible workload. Every other year you see guys rotate. It's so tough on defenses, you've got a fresh guy to start out with, couple of carries and good runs and possibly some touchdowns. And the next guy comes in and he's even more fresh, and so it's just by committee, having guys that can go in and play and continue to play at a high level.
One thing you notice is the standard never drops. Sometimes it even goes up. One guy will go and have a couple of great carries and this guy will go and play even better and even better. And by the time that first guy goes in, everybody is still playing and clicking on all cylinders. I think we all play off each other. We play collectively.
When I see guys make a big play, makes me want to make a big play. I don't know if it's vice versa. All year we've done a great job of that. We have one more opportunity to go out and play together. And I'm sure we'll do the same thing on Monday.
Q. I know you didn't -- it wasn't an easy decision last year to come back for you probably, but it's a decision you made and it's turned out great for you. Just take us through -- that's something that you live about the college experience and talk about going through and making that decision and how it's played out for you.
DAMIEN HARRIS: My decision to come back for my senior year was one of the best decisions I've ever made. You end up being a part of this organization, a part of this team for one more year. Means more to me than any amount of money I could have made last year.
The bonds that I've made. The things that we've accomplished this year on offense especially is just truly remarkable getting to watch Tua's greatness firsthand and Jalen turn into one of the highest character guys I've ever seen in college football. Seeing the success we've had on offense.
Watching guys like Q and DT and Mack and Dylan Moses. The list goes on and on. Every single day I thank God that I made the decision to come back for one more year because if I was in the NFL right now I'd be sitting back watching all this, man, I wish I could do it all over again.
So thankfully I had the opportunity to do that. That's what I chose. Very thankful to be with these guys. Getting coached by guys like Coach Saban and Coach Locksley, everything about this year is everything I could have dreamed of and more. I'm incredibly thankful.
Q. (Inaudible) when you first walked into the championship game?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, my first year I was definitely way more caught up in the lights and the cameras and just like what is going on, because I really didn't play much that year. We ended up in the National Championship and I remember stepping on the field. I was kind of like looking up, like, is this really happening. I felt I was in a dream.
Now all the hard work that we've put in is the reason why we're here. So it's definitely different from the first.
It's a different experience. If that's how I can answer your question.
Q. Did you bring any folks, family with you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I've got some people out here, family to support.
Q. You study rotations?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Studied. I got the degree.
Q. What did you learn about (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Josh does an incredible job of making sure we don't say the wrong things. He does a great job of educating us on how to -- I'm trying to think of the right word. How to display ourselves with high character, high class, high morale, things like that. Because obviously the coaches do a great job of that because they've been doing it for years. But kids coming out of high school. Some kids like to speak their mind say whatever you want. But you can't do that. I think Josh is incredibly important to our program. He does a great job during fall camp educating us.
He brings in speaking experts, public speaking experts. They come in and they break everything down for us of how to build your own brand. Everybody's going to recognize us as great football players or else we wouldn't be here but how can you create value for yourself off the field in the way you do interviews, the way you handle the media, the way you build yourself up, your team, your opponents even.
Just how you can appeal to the media. So I think that every program deserves a Josh Maxson, but I definitely think he's the best in the business.
Q. That's not an easy job, is it?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Stressful.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I've seen Josh very stressed out. Speaking of Josh, we're actually talking about you right now. Yeah, I've seen Josh -- it's not an easy job and not everybody can do it. Like I said, Josh is incredibly important to our program. And I think he has also has a lot to do with the success we've had because that's another key piece that goes into us as players having a lot of high character values, things like that.
So I think that that adds to the success of our team on the field.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I haven't really looked at it from an NFL standpoint. But the way I look at it, we have a lot of guys at a position that can go play at a high level. Every time another guy goes in, the level of expectation never drops off, the standard never drops off. Sometimes it even gets higher. Everybody plays off each other. I think we played great complementary football. When I see Josh, Najee, Brian, Ronnie Clark, guys go in there, make a play, it makes me want to make a play. When I go out there make a play, makes them want to make a play. The way we motivate each other is never any selfishness within that group. And I think it's the most important thing because you've got four or five guys that could go somewhere else and all be starting running backs, and we all have to share one football.
But there's never a sense of pride, a sense of selfishness. You see a guy make a play, and the other four guys are the first to compliment him or celebrate with him. If the one guy makes a mistakes, we're also the first guys to go in there and kind of correct him and let them know what they did wrong and kind of build them up.
So I think the bond, the cohesiveness we built amongst each other in that room is truly special.
Q. (Inaudible)? Can you talk about that how it potentially could help you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I'll worry about the predraft process when I get to the predraft process. Right now we have another National Championship, another opportunity to win another championship, and that's what we're all focused on.
Q. Where do you think this game (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Physicality battle. You know, there's no surprise in this game anymore. We know them. They know us. We have different coordinators at times. But ultimately we know each other inside and out.
So the game is usually won by the team that's the most physical. That's been proven. Every time we've played them. When we've been more physical, we've won. When they've been more physical they've won. I think that's what's going to be the deciding factor in this game.
Q. Do you feel that when that happens? Can you tell in the game when that side of it is where (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: You can say that, yeah. You can always tell when a team is starting to fold and when you're kind of -- whenever the physicality that you're bringing to the table is kind of wearing down the other team.
I mean, this is the National Championship, this is the best two teams in college football. Nobody is going to have a clear advantage at first. Just two tough-nosed teams. Two physical teams going head to head. And it might take a while. Might take until the last play of the game. You never know.
But we train ourselves to play for a full 60 minutes until the clock hits zero. So we'll see on Monday how that works out for us.
Q. Talk about the decision to come back this year. To be on this stage. What is the legacy of Harris and Alabama, what do you want your legacy to be?
DAMIEN HARRIS: A great leader, a great teammate, a person of high character. Things like that. I feel like we'll all be remembered as great football players or else we wouldn't be here. Getting an opportunity to play for Coach Saban. Obviously he turns all of us into great players. But when I think about my legacy, that's what I want people to say. Damien was a guy of class, of high character, had great leadership qualities, was a great leader for our team and hopefully I can leave my legacy as a leader for an undefeated National Championship team.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I think our motivation comes from just the next challenge at hand. I can't really sit here and tell you that 15-0 was our goal at the beginning of the year. Our goal was just to be the best team we could be because we feel like whenever we're playing at our best, we're the best team in college football regardless of who we're playing. We feel like we always have opportunity to be the best team. So that's kind of our goal. Our goal wasn't to beat Clemson, beat LSU. Whoever else we had on our schedule. It was just to be the best version of ourselves and at the end of the season reflect back and say we played our best football every single week and we were able to come up on top.
Q. Talk about the bond of the running backs, how much do you and the seniors have to counsel a guy like Najee (inaudible), what do you (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: There's no frustration. Whenever you have that much selflessness and that many guys that have those high character qualities that I talk about, it's not hard. If anything, it's just I just try to motivate guys, okay, whenever your name or your number is called, just be ready to make a play because it's coming. And you don't know when it's going to be and you don't know how many times it's going to happen. But it's going to come.
There's going to be a time when Najee has to make a big play we're going to depend on him to make a big play. Josh is going to be dependent on making a big play. I'm going to be dependent on making a big play. Can't let the moment get too big. Can't overlook the moment, thinking about how many carries you're not getting or the production you're not having. You have to be focused on when I have the opportunity I'm going to make the most of it. And I think that's everybody's mindset. And I think we do a good job of that.
Q. You have combined for 2100 yards. How have you been able to do that given Tua (inaudible.) How does that work out?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Like I said, whenever our name or number is called, we've stepped up to the plate and met the challenge head on and made the most of it. But also the job that Tua has done, it's just playing complementary football. We air the ball out a lot, throw the ball to a lot of guys on the perimeter, make a lot of plays, throw the ball at people's heads. Naturally that kind of eases up the run game, more explosive runs. Backs people up. Not as many people in the box. And allows for us to have more success. It's playing complementary football.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I mean we have a totally different offense, different offensive coordinator and different guys playing different positions. So everything will be different than the previous year, so, yeah.
Q. Establish a running game?
DAMIEN HARRIS: That's a good question for Coach Saban. Depends on what the game plan is and what's put in place for us as players. Some games we've gone in with the mindset that the run game is the most important aspect of the game. It's the key to victory for us. Some games the passing game. So whatever the game plan is this week for a great Clemson defense, it's our job as players to go out there and execute it.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I haven't really learned much that I didn't already know. Seeing them for a fourth year in a row I kind of feel like we know them; they know us. There's not going to be very many surprises in this game. Whoever is the most physical team and whoever plays with the most discipline, the best fundamental execution, is going to be the team that wins this game.
Q. Your career is almost done here at Bama. How much are you soaking up the last few practices, the media time, everything, the last game coming up on Monday?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Definitely taking it all in. It's been very special for me. Being able to do this one more time with this team, with this organization. It's truly special to me. But I can't get too caught up in the moment because you have to realize that we've got a tough game and an important game to play on Monday.
It's kind of hard to balance it. Definitely overcome with emotions. But ultimately have to keep all that in check at least until after the game on Monday.
Q. You're not one of the guys who grew up in this state. How difficult was it to come to Alabama from Kentucky and kind of get acclimated to the way things go in Alabama, was that a tough thing for you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Yeah, it was tough. I think mainly because of Coach Saban, the way he wants things done and the standard that he holds us to and that's more of a challenge than anything. But it was a great transition and kind of took me a while to work things out but ultimately I was able to and I made the most of it and here we are four years later with an opportunity to win another National Championship.
Q. How tough was the choice to come down here because Bama is always so loaded with running backs and competition for a high school player to come down here and get playing time?
DAMIEN HARRIS: It wasn't very difficult at all. I had confidence in myself as a player that once I learned how to play the game the right way I'd be able to play at a high level. Getting to watch guys like Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, seeing the way they prepared themselves to play this game at such a high level I definitely think that helped transition me into a better player and ever since then I feel I've improved every single year.
Q. Being part of the playoff championship for four years how much has that helped you come Monday when you're going to be under the bright lights and the excitement (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I think the good thing for us and Clemson as well, we don't have to pretend like we've been here before because we both have.
So I don't think either team is going to be caught up in the moment, caught up in the fact that we're playing for a National Championship caught up in the headlines.
It's two tough-nosed teams that realize what's at stake and we're just going to go out and play.
Q. You talked about Coach Saban. What has he meant to you as a person, both on and off the field in your development? People think he's such a hard nosed guy but how much (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Absolutely. Coach Saban has taught me more things off the field than he'll ever teach me on the field. A lot of guys can teach you how to be a good football player. But the characteristics you need in life off the field is what has meant the most to me when it comes to Coach Saban, how to be a guy of high class, of character, having great morals, incredible work ethic, and everything that you do competing against yourself to be the best version of yourself.
You're not always competing against the man across from you. A lot of times you're competing with yourself. So just those lessons that Coach Saban has taught and all the coaches. All the coaching staff, they do a good job of trying to make us better men versus just better football players.
So being a part of this program and being coached by Coach Saban and the rest of the staff and all the coaches I've been able to interact with at my time here it's meant a lot to me. I'm definitely thankful for it.
DAMIEN HARRIS: They've got a very physical front seven. Starting up front, their D line really sets the tone of the game. They try to control the line of scrimmage. They've got linebackers that can fill gaps and make plays. They've got a great secondary that can make plays on the ball and can run with our receivers and make plays down the field. Very challenging defense. Can do a lot of things. Can present us with a lot of adversity. We've just got to put together the best game plan and it's up to us as players to go out and execute it.
Q. What do you see from Albert Huggins, the guy filling in --
DAMIEN HARRIS: I think he's done a great job. He was faced with some adversity. He was just thrown in the fire. And I think he's done a great job at that position. And he's able to play at a high level. So he's definitely going to present us with a lot of challenges on Monday.
Q. You guys have been the standard-bearer obviously for a long time, the last decade, under Coach Saban. Is Clemson the one program that's finally been consistent enough you feel to kind of elevate to be next to you guys or do you feel they're still a team that's chasing you guys?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I think that when we play our best football, we're the best team in the country. We're not really focused on other teams and what they do. Clemson's obviously a great team. They built a great reputation for themselves, a great legacy. I'm not here to compare us to them or them to us or any other teams.
Every week we're just focused on playing our best football, being the best version of ourselves.
Q. Do you see them end up on the schedule each of the last four years, is it, though, a team you kind of relish a chance to play again because they kind of proved themselves a worthy competitor where other teams have not played so well against you guys?
DAMIEN HARRIS: They're just another team we have to beat. If we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish and we look at it as such. Every time we play them, it's our biggest game just the next game, not because it's Clemson. So they're another team that we have to play. I'm sure they look at us the same exact way. People ask them what it's like to play against Alabama. I'm sure they say it's just another game they have to play on their schedule in order to accomplish what they want to accomplish. We feel the same way.
DAMIEN HARRIS: If you would have asked me that coming out of high school I would have said no way. I've seen -- I've seen our entire offense develop over the past few years. Another not just been our pass game. Everything about our offense has improved I feel like every year I've been here. We've had a lot of success at different positions, having different coordinators, things like that. So everything is different. I'm not here to compare this year to the previous three. But I think this year we've taken a big leap on our offense and I think we've done a lot of great things. So hopefully that tradition will carry on long after we're all gone.
Q. What does it say about him (inaudible) in the space you've -- what does it say about him (inaudible) in terms of what you're doing now?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I mean, he's the best ever to do it. There's nothing that I can say that can do justice and give him more praise than he already deserves. He's the best mind, the best football mind that's ever been in the game. The process that everybody talks about that he's developed the standard that he's developed.
There's been nothing like it in the history of college football. It's been an extreme honor and I'm so thankful to have been able to be a part just a part of this, what he's done in the college football world.
Sometimes we look as players, we sit around and talk about like we're really playing for the greatest coach ever. Like ever. What he's doing is the greatest ever. And we just get to be a part of it. We just get to watch it up close and personal.
So it's been a true honor and I'm thankful to have been a part of everything that he's doing for this program.
Q. If you guys win Monday night, what would seven mean for him personally (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: We've got to win it first. I'm not going to do -- I can't do it. He's trained me not to do it. I can't do hypotheticals. We've got to win it first.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I haven't thought about that. Gotta pass the torch to somebody. I don't know, maybe after the game I'll walk through the locker room kind of see, pick somebody out after the game but letting me know that. It's an honor to be known as the granddaddy of our team. Thank you very much. Wait, just exactly who said that? Was it an overall persona?
DAMIEN HARRIS: You're just boosting me up right now. I don't know if I can take all this. You can't say all that and worry about my ego getting big. But I will leave you with thank you. Thank you very much.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Hales is tremendous. There's so many different things that are great about Hale. First of all, his leadership. I think that's off the charts. I think he does a great job of being that vocal leader, that guy that leads by example on the field as well. Every single play you see him laying his body on the line to whether it's the pass game or run game, anything that he has to do in order to help our team be successful he does it. So very, very excited for that guy. I don't know if you guys know this but Hale is getting married next weekend.
Excited to go to that as well. And there's nobody that's more deserving of having a happy life full of love and prosperity than somebody like Hale.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Just guys going out and handling everything the right way. That saying is so clichÃ©, but it means so much, holds so much weight in our program. Just do things the right way. One thing that Coach Locksley always tells us is plain Jane, do everything the same, every single day. We don't need anybody to go out and be Superman. We don't need anybody to go out and do anything they wouldn't normally do. We feel like if we just show up and go to work every single day like we do any other day that will put us in a position to have success on Monday.
So just being ourselves, just being who we are, I think that's going to serve us a lot in this game. Everybody is focused and nobody's caught in the lights playing in a championship everybody knows it's our biggest game because it's our next game because it's what we're focused on.
Q. The young guys, how do you (inaudible)?
DAMIEN HARRIS: In reality, Coach Saban does a good job with all of us. I don't really think that any one player has to do that. I think that that's kind of understood throughout this program.
Coach Saban does a great job of letting us know that business is business. And we have to take everything one game at a time.
DAMIEN HARRIS: Not really. We know them. They know us. There's not going to be any surprises. Playing a team every single year, we kind of feel like they're one of -- a team in our conference now, like an SEC team because we played them so regularly that we know they're what they do offensively, defensively, special teams. I'm sure they feel the same way about us.
It's going to come down to who is the more physical and more disciplined team, who plays with more fundamental execution, things like that.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I've enjoyed, what is it, two out of three of them. We've been able to win two of those. The one game that we played them and they beat us, that wasn't very enjoyable.
But we've got another opportunity to play them again. It's a great team. You can say a lot of great things about them. They do a lot of things well -- offensively, defensively, great specialists. So, looking forward to another opportunity to get to play them.
Q. They go into a season knowing they're probably going to see Alabama. Do you guys feel that way that you'll get another chance to see Clemson play?
DAMIEN HARRIS: We don't really think about that. We're not -- our goal when we start a season isn't to beat Clemson. It's not to beat LSU or Auburn or anybody. We really feel our biggest competition is ourselves. We don't mean it in any disrespectful way to any team, but we feel to give ourselves the best chance to be successful, be the best of version of ourselves from the start of the season to the last game of the season. Our focus is being the best team we can be and if we do that we feel everything will take care of itself.
Q. I'd like to know if you have a specific teacher who has impacted you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Wow, I've had so many teachers that impacted my life. And it's hard to pick one.
I had a sixth grade science teacher. His name was David Bond (phonetic). He served in the Naval Academy, I mean in the Navy. Sixth grade science teacher. He was such a light in my life. I remember him vividly. I enjoyed going to school every day because I knew I got to have his class.
I knew that all my peers, all my friends loved him. He was always full of energy and always told us funny stories. Not to upset anybody, but it wasn't always just about class and school.
He made life better for us. And he's one of those guys that 20 years from now I'll always remember having sixth grade science class. If he's anywhere out there and can hear this I want to say thank you. All these years later I still don't like school, but I still remember having your class. So just thankful to have had you in the past and you definitely gave me a different outlook on life. I'm very thankful for that.
Q. Do you believe a teacher can (inaudible) student-athlete's trajectory in life?
DAMIEN HARRIS: Absolutely. You hear so many different stories of athletes, they're great athletes but they don't have any direction with your life. It only takes one teacher that can help set them on the right path. Like I said it's not even about teaching math or science or social studies or history or anything like that. It's pointing them in the right direction and guiding them in life because life is a tremendous amount of trials and tribulations and hardships, and all these different things. Like I said, it always can be that one teacher that can point you in the right direction because for so long you're in school, you're in class. So sometimes that person is in the classroom, and they can set you in the right direction. I definitely think that teachers are important.
Q. (Inaudible) what does it say about the rivalry that's developed over the past couple of years?
DAMIEN HARRIS: I mean, it's just another part of it. It's two great programs that have developed great legacies, various traditions, battling for another National Championship. We know they're a great team. We know them inside and out. There's not going to be very many surprises when it comes to this game.
It's going to come down to the team that's the most physical, poses the most fundamental execution and the most discipline.
Q. (Inaudible) one play, one moment, what stands out to you?
DAMIEN HARRIS: If I had to pick one moment that I remember out of all of these games is the touchdown pass Deshaun Watson threw two years ago. I'll remember it over any great moments against that team. One second away from looking at a four-pete basically, one second left on the clock. So I'll always remember that.
I think it was a big play in college football history as well. A lot of people remember that moment, but that will definitely sit with me forever.
Q. Let's talk about your athletic trainer.
DAMIEN HARRIS: I only have two minutes. I don't know if that's nearly enough time. The medical support staff that we have here at the University of Alabama has just been --
The medical support we have here at the University of Alabama is absolutely tremendous. Starts with Jeff Allen, does a great job keeping everything organized. When you have so many different guys and so much going through our program the way that it does, for him to be able to keep order, maintain order in the training room is absolutely phenomenal.
The leader that he is for our medical support staff and the job that they do and taking care of our players. You see Tua, the injury that he had and the way that he was able to bounce back and have the success that he had against a great Oklahoma team, give all the credit to Jeff Allen, the way he prepared him for that moment and that stage.
They were doing treatment on the plane on the way to the Heisman ceremony, on the way back. Tua is always the first guy in to get treatment every day, the last person to leave after practice. Jeff held him to absolute excellence when it came to preparing his body to be able to get back out there and play. So that's just a small glimpse into what Jeff Allen has done for our program.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports