Nick Saban’s Alabama got the better of Deshaun Watson’s Clemson in last year’s College Football Playoff final, but the Tigers quarterback left a heck of an impression on the Crimson Tide’s head coach, it seems.
Saban went on ESPN on Tuesday and said, via CBS Sports, that Watson’s the most dominating player he’s had to face since another athletic QB a few years ago.
"That guy's the most significantly dominant player we played against since Cam Newton in 2010," Saban said of Watson.
It happened in a losing effort, but Watson was sort of ridiculous against Alabama’s all-world defense. He was 30-of-47 passing that night in Glendale, throwing for 405 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. He added 73 yards on 20 carries, for a 3.7-yard average against a defense that essentially doesn’t give up rushing yards.
Statistically, Watson did a bit better against Alabama than Newton did in 2010, when he took Auburn to an undefeated, national championship season. That year, Newton was 13-of-20 for 216 yards and three scores, although the Tide controlled Newton on the ground and limited him to a 1.8-yard rushing average.
Watson has at least one more year at Clemson, and Saban has a good sense that he might have to deal with an encore.
"That guy coming back for that team is going to make them a very, very competitive team in terms of being in the championship arena again," Saban said.