Clemson defensive backs Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse said during Media Day on Saturday that the Tigers are more battle tested than Alabama after going 4-0 in one-score games this season.
“We’ve been in plenty of situations where most teams would fold,” Kearse said. “Most teams would come out and give up. But we fought through all those tough situations.”
Alabama has played two games decided by one score and gone 1-1, losing to Ole Miss 43-37 and beating Tennessee 19-14.
“Alabama really hasn’t had those situations in those big, crunch-time games,” Kearse said. “I think they went down to the wire against Tennessee, and that really was about it. I definitely feel like we’re more battle tested than they are, just because of the things that we’ve been through during the course of this season.”
Alexander added that he believes Clemson has faced a tougher schedule. By the College Football Playoff rankings, the Tigers have wins over No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 9 Florida State and No. 10 North Carolina.
Alabama’s only win over a team currently ranked in the top 10 came against No. 3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
“We’re more battle tested than Alabama this year,” Alexander said. “We played more top 10 teams than they did. They played one, we played like five. We’re ready for whatever they come at us with.”
BOULWARE NOT AFRAID OF HENRY
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said he isn’t afraid to tackle Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry one-on-one.
“I definitely won’t shy away from him,” Boulware said. “I’ve gone up against some really physical running backs in my three years of college football. I’m not scared of him at all, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to meet in a hole.”
Kearse added that Clemson is confident it can slow Henry down.
“It gives us confidence because we watch film. We see weaknesses,” he said. “We watched the Michigan State game and they held him to like 60 something yards. It can be done if we do our job.”
LIVING ON REPUTATION?
Alexander said the reason Alabama is favored over Clemson is because Alabama is a bigger brand. Oklahoma was favored over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and Alexander said that had to do with brand as well.
He added that deep down, he thinks the media believes Clemson is the better team.
“You guys really don’t believe that,” he said of the media saying Alabama is better. “You guys really don’t believe it because you guys are looking at the brand and the big A and what they’ve done in the past. It’s not about that it’s about right now. You guys are looking at the brand too much, that’s all. You guys know we have the better team.”
READY TO PLAY
Kearse said he can’t wait for Monday to arrive. He is tired of talking and ready to suit up.
“I was ready to play when I got off the plane, just so much adrenaline pumping and ready to get to the field,” he said. “I’ve never played for a championship through any part of my career in football. To get here and finally play for one I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”
LAWSON NOT THE ONLY PLAYER BATTLING INJURY
Alexander missed much of the second half of the Orange Bowl with what appeared to be cramps, but he said he tweaked his hamstring as well.
“It was a little bit of everything: cramps, hamstring, a little bit of everything,” he said.
When asked if he was 100 percent he responded, “We’ll see how it goes.”