Bama LB: Tide’s best still better than Clemson’s

HOOVER, Ala. — Even after a 28-point loss to the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship Game, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses still thinks the Crimson Tide are the better team.

“During the game, we weren’t prepared for it. Clemson got the best of us that day,” Moses said during SEC media days on Wednesday. “And kudos to them. But from that point on, we learned from our mistakes and we’re trying to get better.”

Moses was asked specifically if the 44-16 loss in January — the most lopsided of Saban’s tenure at Alabama — was more a result of lack of preparation by the Crimson Tide or if the Tigers were just the better team that day.

“It was more so just preparation,” Moses said. “I wouldn’t say they were a better team because we both have great athletes on both sides of the ball. But it was like we didn’t prepare as much for Clemson and they obviously prepared for us. They game planned better than us.”

Asked whether Alabama’s best is better than Clemson’s, Moses didn’t waver.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team. I have a lot of confidence in [quarterback Tua Tagovailoa], our receivers, our offensive line, defensive line. At our best, yeah.”

Moses’ sentiments echoed those of Saban, who made several references at media day to distractions that might have cost his team another national championship — whether it was players who were concerned with the NFL draft or coaches who were looking forward to other opportunities.

On the offensive side alone, coordinator Mike Locksley was on his way to becoming the head coach at Maryland and quarterbacks coach Dan Enos would later leave to become the offensive coordinator at Miami.

Saban said, late in the season, he saw “people’s own agendas started to become more important.”

At ACC media days, the Tigers had their own opinion of the title game.

“That’s fine,” coach Dabo Swinney said when told of Alabama’s comments. “We were better that day. I don’t know what to say. If we’d have lost by 28, can you imagine the stories?”

Added offensive lineman John Simpson: “Nobody wants to give us our credit when it’s due. It’s obviously due. What more can we do? We beat them twice, and we beat them pretty good the second time. So why is there an excuse?”

Saban, for his part, hoped his players would learn from the experience of losing such an important game.

“I think if you’re a great competitor and you are in a game like we were for the national championship and you didn’t perform very well — and giving all the credit to the other team who beat us and took advantage of the opportunities that they have, not to take anything away from them — but if you’re a competitor, you’re going to respond in a positive way and learn from the things that you didn’t do, whether those things were in preparation, game-day decisions, you know, the habits that you created leading up to the game the second half of the season,” Saban said.

“All of those things contribute to, are we going to be able to have success against one of the best teams, or the best team, in the country? And we obviously didn’t do that. That’s my responsibility.”

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