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Everything Alabama Players Said on Saturday Ahead of the CFP Title Game

Crimson Tide outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., defensive back Jordan Battle, quarterback Bryce Young and running back Brian Robinson Jr. all stepped up to the microphone and took questions from the media.

INDIANAPOLIS — Ahead of the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, four players for No. 1 Alabama football spoke to the media for the final time this week.

Crimson Tide outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., defensive back Jordan Battle, quarterback Bryce Young and running back Brian Robinson Jr. all stepped up to the microphone and took questions from the media.

Here's everything the Alabama Crimson Tide said on Saturday morning:

Full Transcript: Alabama Football — January 8, 2022

OLB Will Anderson Jr.

Q: Can you talk about Alabama's, your strength against the run this year? And you in particular, how unselfish you have to be as an outsider linebacker, most (indiscernible) to rushing the passer, but you're pretty good against the runs?

That's one of our goals on our goal sheet, we're really big on stopping the run, how many yards they get per game and holding them to a certain amount of yards. So I think, like, during fall camp, summertime, spring ball, I think that's where we get a chance where we just work on our technique, make sure we're shocking and shedding and getting off blocks the right way, everybody is staying in their gaps, because that's one of the biggest parts of our defense is stopping the run.

And every day in practice, we have to do drills to make sure everybody is using their hands and getting off blocks really well. That's one of the biggest goals we have. So I think we've been doing a really good job this year at stopping the run and we just want to keep carrying that over into this game.

Q: Whether it's this year or last, what is the best piece of advice you've received from Coach Saban that will stick with you for the rest of your college career?

The best piece of advice I received from Coach Saban will probably be just facing adversity, never giving up. No matter how hard something gets, keep fighting to the end. Don't let it control you. Don't let it get too overwhelming or put too much pressure on yourself. Just go out there and have fun. And whatever happens, happens.

Q: Before the Cincinnati game a lot was made about your comments about being the underdog. Is that the same mentality you take into this game? And how does the Alabama program even maintain that philosophy given all the success the program has had?

Again, Alabama does have a lot of success, but I was speaking generally when I said over the course of the season, but us being underdogs, us not being respected and people saying we wasn't an elite team. And I think that just fuels everybody up because we know how hard we work, we know what type of team we have.

And it's going to be the same to the end of the season, which is coming up. So we're keeping that same intensity, same energy. What everybody was saying about us, we were just going to keep it using it as motivation because we know what type of team we are. We know what we put in day in, day out and how we prepare and how we play.

Q: It's been quite a journey to see you turn into one of the leaders on the team this year. As a sophomore, you won it all last year, but overall after this year's all said and done, what is a successful season for you?

A successful season for me is winning the national championship, making sure that we're up on that stage – all my brothers, coaches, families, everybody. We're celebrating all the hard work we put in this whole season. That's what a successful season is to me.

Q: What can you say about Pete Golding as defensive coordinator, just what he's meant to you and how he's really commanded the best out of you in your career at Alabama?

I have so much respect for Coach Pete. He does an outstanding job, from going to high school, having a good DC and coming to college and having a good DC. And building that relationship, it's been really good.

He has a lot of respect for me. I've learned so much from Coach Pete from my freshman year to this year and so much more through the defense by him helping me, just moving me around some, doing different things, stuff like that.

He's done a great job this year. I'm so happy to have him as a coach and blessed. And he does a really good job making sure that we're all on the same page. We know how to fit things, where somebody's coming down at. So he does a great job of making sure we're all lined up and making sure we're all on the same page.

Q: What's your favorite part about playing alongside Phil Mathis, DJ Dale and all the other talented guys you guys have along that defensive line?

It means everything. It's so much fun. I have to give those guys a lot of credit because they give me so much energy when I watch them play. Before the game I swear I always to myself, I say, your brothers are out there with you. Look at Phil, he's right beside you. Look at DJ, he right there beside you. Look at Dallas, he right there beside you.

And that givers me a little bit of confidence, too, because when you have other great players out on the field with you, it gives you a little bit of confidence boost. And I love playing with those guys. They bring so much energy to the defense, especially Phil.

I swear Phil rubs off on me. He gives me so much energy on the field. When he make a play, I make a play or I make a play, he makes a play. Every time we both make plays we're right there together celebrating. I'm so happy and so blessed to be playing besides some guys like that that are really talented and really good.

Q: Having played in the national championship as a freshman, what did you learn most from that experience or what are you taking into this to do differently than the first time around?

Probably paying attention more to the details. I think last year, as a freshman, you really don't have the type of focus that you have when you mature a little bit. So probably paying attention to the details, making sure I'm lined up right, making sure I'm not having any mental errors or anything like that, making sure I'm getting the calls. I think that was one of the biggest things last year was getting the call getting lined up right.

That's the experience I have now taking to, like, the national championship game. And have that experience under my belt to help me more.

Q: You've obviously been a leader for this team but guys like Phil Mathis, Brian Robinson, fifth-year seniors who are playing in their fourth national championship game. How much do you look to those guys for advice and how much have those guys meant to the team this season?

They've meant everything to the team. I don't get to talk to B-Rob like that. But he's been outstanding this year. He's been a vocal leader to us. He's been through so much, as well as Phil has seen so much. They've been able to help us along the way.

But all practice long, I've been on Phil, like, Phil, we've got to get you one more before you go. I'm really big on that. When I was in high school, I was tight with one of the other senior D tackles. We've got to get you another one.

That's the same feeling here. All week I've been, like, Phil, we've got to get you one before you get out of here. That's just been the type of energy we've been having around the program right now these last few practices and making sure everybody's on the same page, so we can get the job done and get these guys out of here the right way.

Q: I saw that Dutchtown High School said Monday will be Will Anderson Day. What kind of support have you been getting from back home? And also have there been any friends or extended family that say, we're pulling for you, but team-wise we're rooting for the other guys?

First of all, I want to start off by saying thank you to the Dutchtown community the Henry County, my Dutchtown family. I just want to say thank you so much for the support and love you've shown me over the season, my freshman year.

I couldn't have asked for a better support system back at home. I'm so honored and blessed for you guys to be making Monday Will Anderson Day back at home for me. I love you guys. Thank you so much.

And, no, I haven't anybody say they're rooting for me and Georgia. So I'm glad of that. And I'm very appreciative of that. But, again, thank you and I love you guys so much.

Q: A couple of the Georgia players we talked to an hour ago talked about how this time they're going to be different mentally than they were in Atlanta. What differences do you expect to see from a team that says that it will be mentally sharper this time?

I think no game's going to be the same. What happened last game is what happened last game. We have to worry about what happens this game. And I can't really speak on what other teams think they have to do.

But I know as far as Alabama, we're just going to take the same preparation and the same way we do things from each game into this game and we're going to play to the Alabama standard and play Alabama football.

Q: How do you feel your strength and conditioning program will influence your guys' performance for this game against what is probably the best offensive line, the best and biggest offensive line in the nation? And also could you share a specific experience with your strength and conditioning coaches that you feel has impacted the team to be prepared for that?

I think our strength and conditioning coaches do an outstanding job with us. Our last lift we just had we had a lot of people PR in the weight room. For it to be towards the end of the season to have those types of numbers with the type of season we had in the SEC, our SEC schedule and going against top talent and being able to still PR in the weight room, I think it's big. And it speaks volumes for the people working there.

Coach Ballou and Doc Rhea, they do an awesome job. As far as this game goes, we're more than prepared. They prepared us all season, during the season to help us during the season to make sure our bodies are right. They're not going to let anybody slip away.

The weight room numbers have been outstanding. They've been doing a great job. The team has been doing a great job lifting and maintaining weight. They have us more than prepared for this game. And like I was saying, they do a great job making sure everybody's weight is good.

Q: Bryce Young has a lot of success on the field, and with the Heisman, and you were a big person to pitch him for that. What is your confidence level with your quarterback going into the biggest game of his career on Monday?

Bryce is a really great person. He's a really great athlete. I look up to Bryce a lot. I tell him all the time he's an inspiration to the team the way he prepares and the way he can talk to people in different ways.

For Bryce, I'm so excited for him. This is a big game. But I'm not going to put any pressure on him. I'm not going to sit up here and say he needs to do this and do this. I'm going to let Bryce go out there and play his game and be Bryce Young and help lead the offense like I know he will.

Q: You guys seem to be get really sharp defensively in the red zone, whether it's creating turnovers or just holding them to the field goals. What's been the secret to the success there in the red zone?

I think it's the mentality you have to not let anybody score on you. Do not let anybody get into your end zone. So I think that's just where it comes from. It's our mentality on defense to not let anybody get into the end zone.

Q: I was curious if you have seen the social media phenomenon going on right now with the Karate Kid emoji that Jameson started and he's promoted with a photo of himself this week. Have you thought about that at all? There are thousands of fans who have that on the social media pages right now.

I've been scrolling Twitter and that's all I've been seeing. I don't know too much about it. Everybody on the team does it, but it's like an offensive thing. So we just see them doing it but we don't know, like, what they have going on with it.

But on my TL, that's all I've been seeing. And I saw something like Gumpster [phonetic], something like that. I don't know the backstory of it. But I saw it on my TL – I think it's really cool especially for something you do in a game and the fans take after it and they support you behind it.

And it grows on social media like that. And it just grows with the fans and they love it. And it shows you how much of a support system we have and a great fan base we have. So we appreciate those guys.

Q: I heard about a giraffe costume growing up. I heard about, it was mayonnaise and jelly sandwiches. Let me ask you what was the number one prank either pulled on you or by you growing up?

Enough about what happened to me. I'm going to tell you what I did. So back at my home, one day we had a Sunday dinner after church, whatever like that. And my mom had made cornbread. Instead of making the cornbread in the squares that she used to do or the frying pan, she made it in cupcake holders. So we had some left over.

And I was telling my sisters, I said, hey, I'm going to bake some cupcakes, I'm going to get you all right – we're going to eat good.

The next day I took the corn muffins, the cornbread, and I put icing on them because they was already cupcake form, I put icing on them and I put some sprinkles on them. I told my sisters, the cupcakes, y'all go down and get some if you all want to.

So all my sisters rushed down the stairs, they rushed down the stairs. And I swear all of them bit into the cornbread and they spit it out immediately. And they thought it was cupcakes. That's like one of the best pranks I did my sisters to me, because I really got them.

Q: You have had a dad who has motivated you and brought out the inner fire that usually doesn't end up great for the other team. How does he spark that inner fire in you in a national championship game?

My dad he texts me all the time. He screams. Sometimes I can hear him in the stands, sometimes. I used to be able to hear my dad all the time in my high school.

But my dad, he doesn't get enough credit, but he's been so phenomenal in my life. He's taught me so much. Even though he was at work most of the time, just him calling me on the phone, making sure I'm good, making sure that my head space is in the right. He said use your hand and speed before every game, that's what he would call and tell me, text me, let me know. But I love my dad. He supports me so much.

He doesn't get enough credit, but he did an outstanding job raising me, and I have to give so much credit to him because I wouldn't be the man I am right now if it wasn't for him. So, yeah.

Q: You mentioned just Bryce being a good person and sort of knowing how to talk to people. I was curious if you have sort of an example or anything that sort of stands out to you from that this season?

We have to (indiscernible) a lot of guys, sometimes when guys get out of hand or anything like that. It happens with all teams. As a leader you have different types of leaders. Everybody might not be able to get through to some people as Bryce can or I can.

But you may not know how to talk to this person you may not know what to say to this person. But Bryce always knows what to say to a player or a person no matter what they are, no matter what type of person they are, he knows how to talk to people really well. And I really feel like that's a nice gift to have. He's blessed, most definitely he's favored.

To be able to talk to people of different kinds, no matter what they're going through and be able to do that, that's really special.

DB Jordan Battle

Q: You were able to force Stetson Bennett into a few interceptions the first matchup. What do you do to try to replicate in this game, to do that again?

Basically just focusing on staying in our zones, not drifting out of our zones, not breaking too early on the ball, just knowing the right moment of when to break on the ball and staying and trusting what our defensive coach calls.

Q: You've been in this game last year. What's a successful this year for you guys in your eyes?

Obviously a successful season would be to finish strong in this game and come out with the natty. But doing all the things we've done this year and keep improving our game and play to the Bama standard.

Q: You just talked about the Bama standard. There's different kind of standards around the country for different teams. Yours is kind of championship or bust. Just what can you say feeling that weight on your shoulders and what you think about, the fact that it's not a great season at Alabama if you're not in the national championship?

That's what you commit to when you're coming out of high school. You know the standard is what it is. It's the national championship-minded standard. You have to do whatever it takes to get to this stage. And we know it's going to be hard. But that's what it comes with. We know we have to overcome adversity and that's what this team has done this year.

Q: You're obviously playing in another national championship game, a lot at stake, but there have been a lot of players that opted out of lesser bowl games. Your thoughts on that from a player perspective? And do you understand guys particularly with NFL futures opting out of bowl games?

I don't think that's, like, anything to judge. It's that player's option to opt out or do what they want. That's on them. If they choose to opt out, that's what they do. They want to opt out and do what they have to do to get ready for the next level, that's on them. That's fully their decision.

Q: For a rematch, getting prepared to play a team you played a month ago, how different is that going into a game like that than the regular season, a team you see once and know you're only going to see once? Is there anything different going into preparing for the same team?

Nothing different that you have to prepare for. You just go into every week the same. We prepare how we need to prepare to beat a team. That's fully going into a game, that's on us.

What we do every week is what will determine the outcome of the game. So if we go into the game – if we go into the game and we're not on the same page, that's when we give up big plays. When we're all on the same page, that's when we play very good football. So just being on the same page in every play.

Q: What is the best piece of advice that Coach Saban has given you over the course of your career that may stick with you throughout the rest of your playing career and the rest of your life?

Just keeping the main thing the main thing and not focusing on anything outside of the facility. We play for one another. We can go out on the field and we trust one another to do our 1/11th. That's a big part of the success at Alabama, just trusting your brother next to you and playing for the man next to you, because you know he's going to give his all for you.

Q: Last year you got called for targeting. And you could see on the JumboTron there in Miami the hurt and the pain. You wanted to be out there competing with your guys. Have you given a thought about that playing this year? Have you thought about it this week?

That was the main thing, getting a chance to play a whole game in the national championship. And I'm grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to play in another national championship. And hopefully I can play in the whole game this time around because last year everybody knows what happened.

Q: How has losing Josh Jobe affected the Alabama secondary?

I don't think it affected us a lot, but obviously Josh Jobe is a great player. He's recovering very well. But the guys behind him like Kool-Aid McKinstry and we've got Khyree Jackson, they've stepped up very well and they've been in the filming room every day, been upstairs with Coach Valai, getting right and learning the playbook. And they're coming along well for us.

Q: Just expanding on that question, last week Coach Saban talked about how impressed he was with those younger guys stepping up. What do you think their mentality is going into their first national championship game on Monday?

Obviously probably full of excitement. They've been in the playbook, and I feel like they're more comfortable than they were when they first got in there. So this will be a great experience for them and a great game for them as well as they keep improving.

Q: How does Coach Saban, a guy who's 50 years or close to 50 years older than most of the people he's coaching, how is he able to relate to you guys and the players? What is the secret there? Because it seems that might be the key to his greatness, is that he can somehow remain relevant to kids that are young enough to be his grandchildren.

He just gradually improves with the generations. He fits in with us very well. He's very comfortable talking to us. He's very comfortable getting on us. And we, in this generation, we have to learn to take that.

I know in this generation it's a lot of attitude in kids, but somehow when we come to Bama and Coach Saban is talking, everybody is focused and everybody is focused on what he's saying. And everybody buys into what he's saying.

Q: What will be a story you could share from the weight room that you feel has influenced the team the most this season?

Oh, yeah. In the weight room, we do a lot of competing. I know this summer, there was a lot of me Jalyn Armour-Davis and DeMarcco Hellams, Josh Jobe, we were competing in the weight room a lot, just having fun working.

I feel like that put us in a good position this year and that brought us very far this year in our athletic ability and our physical ability. So I want to thank those guys and the coaches as well for allowing us to compete in the weight room.

Q: Have you ever seen the jacket that Nick Saban was wearing on the plane last night? As a South Florida guy, what was it like walking off that plane and feeling that Indianapolis air?

His jacket was very cool. I haven't seen Coach Saban in style like that. And to see that he has a little swag, it kind of brings joy to my heart.

But the feeling walking off that plane was very cool. They had the band playing over there for us. They were jamming. They were doing their thing. And it was a little cold in the atmosphere. I'm a Florida guy, so I don't get too much winter weather. So this is a great feeling.

Q: How do you guys as a defense keep from being overly confident walking into a ball game playing a team that you beat handedly a month ago?

That's what comes with it. We know we're going to get every opponent we play, their best. So, we have to come out with the mentality that we're going to get their best, we have to play to our best ability every play, every down, one play at a time and now focus on the next play. If you mess up on a play, just correct it on the sideline and come back and get better from it.

Q: Obviously this Alabama defense is versatile, but you are as well with great basketball skills. Just last year at the basketball championship game, Art Vitale [phonetic] won it and then went and played for the Chiefs. Do you see basketball in your future, or are you focused on football at this point?

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I'm completely focused on football at this point. Basketball is not a thing I'm going to do ever again. I had the ability to play basketball in high school and middle school and elementary school and all those years, but football has the main focus and only focus, and school, of course.

QB Bryce Young

Q: A question about Ja'Corey Brooks, how do you think he stepped up in this last game? And how has he gradually done that over the course of the season?

Ja'Corey stepped up tremendously last week, last game. I think he's really growing into that role of being someone we can depend down in down out. Someone who obviously at the beginning of the season wasn't getting the reps he's getting now.

But that didn't discourage him at all. He stayed ready, stayed focused and locked in. I think that's really showing as of late. So when his name was called he responded. And that's always been a big thing for us, is having the next man up.

So it's been time for him to step up and he's been doing a great job of that so far. And I have all the confidence in the world with him to continue to do that.

Q: Jordan Davis for Georgia said he and his teammates have referred to you as the gingerbread man because of your ability to run in the backfield and evade tacklers. I'm curious your thoughts on that nickname they've given you.

I hadn't heard that until now. But I guess it's a compliment. But that is stuff you can't control. We know how good that front seven is.

We have a ton of respect for them, that entire defense. We understand the challenge that's at hand. There's a respect factor there. So we have respect. It's just on us to prepare during the week to put ourselves in the best position to be successful and execute when the time comes.

Q: Generally what is it the secret to Coach Saban that allows him, a guy who is, you know, almost 50 years older than a lot of the guys he's coaching, to be able to relate to them and get them to listen to him do what he wants? Obviously that would seem to be a big part of his success to stay this good this long. And do you remember anything personally when you were being recruited by him what drew you to not just Alabama and the winning but him personally from talking to you?

I think it really started with (inaudible); I think it all starts with the respect that we have for him. Obviously what he's produced throughout his entire career, what he's meant to this program, to the state.

It really starts with the respect we all for him. And also talks to Coach Saban, how he's adapted over the years. The game has changed since he's been coaching. The players, the landscape of college football, college football in general has changed.

And for him to be able to adapt multiple times throughout his career, that's not easy for guys who have been doing it so long. And for him to have all the success he's had and still be able to adapt and kind of change how he approaches everything, we see that. We recognize that, and that means a lot for us.

For me, recruiting, what really stuck out was how real he was. He never (inaudible); some coaches can make you promises in recruiting. And once you really understand it and start to think about it, nothing's promised in recruiting.

When you start to hear those promises, it starts to become a little bit of a red flag knowing that, hearing a coach promise you this or that when you've heard it might not be like that when you get there.

Coach Saban was always direct with me. He never promised me anything. He only promised me opportunities to compete. He told me from the jump in recruiting that this wasn't a place for everyone and exactly the type of player and person that he was looking for and that he knows thrives in this organization, and that was the person and player that I strive to be.

He was always honest and always real with me in recruiting. That was something that really stuck with me and really separated this place from every other place in the country.

Q: Obviously Alabama's had quite a run at quarterback with Mac, Tua and yourself. Have you heard from those guys during this crazy month you've had? And if so what's been the message from them?

Yeah, I had heard (inaudible); like you said, there's such a rich quarterback history here (inaudible); I've heard from, I talked to Mac not too long ago, a couple days ago. And him just telling me to keep going to the finish, to lock in, just to make sure that we finish everything off right.

And to hear from Mac really on a regular basis, just to have that respect from the other guys in the past, for me that means a lot.

Coming here, I understood the rich quarterback history. Being able to watch Mac last year I really got to see what it was like being right next to him. So carrying on that legacy and doing what I can to improve it, that means a lot to me and I take a lot of pride in that.

I think everyone, all those quarterbacks understand being here and what our goal is as a team. So kind of being able to tap into that and feed into that, knowing that winning this game is always a goal for us at this program. So just being able to feed off of that, that means a lot.

Q: Do you remember the first time you heard from a college coach that, basically a scholarship offer that, hey, we would like you to come play for us? Do you remember how old you were and what your reaction was at that time?

It was in eighth grade. It was the last day of eighth grade. I went out to Texas Tech, I had been in contact with them. It was from coach Kliff Kingsbury. He was the first coach to give me a scholarship offer in Lubbock, Texas, Texas Tech.

It was a huge blessing being that young and get a scholarship offer. It was amazing. I was super excited.

It wasn't really something that I was (inaudible); I was expecting, something you hope for and dream about, but for it to be a reality that obviously you have to maintain during high school and make sure your grades are good and all that. But it kind of became a reality that I'd be able to play football at the next level. Kind of getting that confirmation, it was a tremendous blessing.

Q: What did you think of Nick Saban's jacket coming off the plane last night? And what was it like for you stepping into that air in Indianapolis?

Coach's jacket was fine. Coach is always going to step into something we haven't seen before as a team. So that's to be expected.

But stepping out in Indy really just starts to set in when the plane lands. You get out, it's obviously a different change in climate. But you really get the realization that you're in this new environment. You know why you're here. Everyone understands what we're here for.

So whenever you get that change in setting, it starts to get more and more real about what we've been working for knowing that the game's around the corner.

So it was a great experience. It's always fun to play in different environments. But stepping out, it's really just that confirmation, when you get to the setting where you're going to play, you know what time it is. So for us it was all just that reassurance and that confirmation to know that what we're here for and it's time to lock in for that.

Q: Now that we're just a couple days away here and you finally arrived in Indy, what is the mindset for you and the team right now? And secondly, obviously you played well in the SEC title game. So what are some things you'll have to do to be successful a second time against Georgia?

Our mindset is just all about the game. Obviously this is what you work for the entire season. I know that's what our goal has always been. So we understand that this is a business trip.

It's all for all of us, it's all about (inaudible); it's all about the game on Monday. So it's a pretty simple mindset. It's not complicated at all. We all know what we're here for. And it's all about getting better and doing what we have to do to put ourselves in the best position when Monday comes.

And, for me, it's just about doing all I can to execute the game plan. Taking what the defense gives. Just executing the calls and the reads as they are.

I have tremendous faith in everyone around me and the coaching staff. So I don't feel that I have to do something that's out of character or out of the reads or go off script. It's all about believing in the game plan, believing in the people around me, which I completely do. And just do what I've been coached to do and take what the defense gives.

Q: We just talked with Will Anderson a few minutes ago. And I was asking him about his thoughts on the social media phenomenon going on with the karate emoji. He claims he has no idea about what that's about (inaudible); the celebration, and he said it's an offense thing. Is he lying, number one? Does he know what it is? And how do you feel about that whole thing spreading like wildfire?

Just the celebrations in the end zone?

Q: He claims he has no idea, that that's an offensive thing and he doesn't know why you do it.

The celebrations. I believe him if he says it. That's kind of been our thing throughout the year, those karate kid celebrations. I mean, I believe him. I don't think he has a reason to lie.

But I mean, I can see it. He's probably on the sideline, knowing Will, he's on the sideline firing someone up or locked in when we're out there. If he says it, I believe it.

Q: As a younger player, how would you describe the relationship you have with your senior running back Brian Robinson Jr.?

Me and B-Rob are super close. Lockers are right next to each other so I get to see him, be around him all the time. And then obviously on the field. But B-Rob is someone I've been cool with since I first got here. Someone who is from Tuscaloosa, someone who has been in the program for a while.

And when I first got here he was someone who was always super cool with me, someone who was super welcoming when I was just a freshman. That means a lot to me, for him last year, being here as long as he did, he didn't have to go out of his way to make sure I was good and to look out for me as just a freshman. But he made a priority to do that. And that's always meant a lot for me, not just in football but in life for someone to do that. That's always meant a lot.

And then throughout this year, obviously, we're always on the same page and stuff. On the field, off the field, that's someone who I'm close with.

It's always great to have someone like B-Rob around and just an added bonus when it's someone that's at running back that you collaborate every single play. And it makes it so much easier when, off the field, everything is cool, too.

So it's been great being able to be around B-Rob. It's been huge for me this year, last year, and I've been blessed to have the opportunity to play with him.

Q: Want to ask you about Metchie, just the comfort, the security. Looked like you guys could play catch in the dark on some of those third downs. How do you adjust mentally to losing a guy like that that's been such a go-to player for you this season?

I mean, Metchie is someone that you just can't replace. Losing Metchie was huge for us; that definitely hurt. It's really tough.

But as Coach is always saying, that creates opportunity for other people. And we had people step in the wake of that. We've had a little bit of time to adjust. And people have stepped up in games. Second half, SEC Championship and in the Cincinnati game, people stepped up and are going to continue to do that. And in practice, the same thing.

It's not something you can replace, someone like Metchie, just someone that you can just plug someone else in and get the same from. It definitely hurt.

But at the same time again it creates opportunities for others. And I have tremendous confidence in everyone at the position just being able to work with them throughout the week and seeing the work they put in.

It's tough, but as Coach said, it's an opportunity for people (inaudible); it creates opportunity when something like that happens. It's just having the next-man-up mentality.

Q: We talked a lot about a rematch in the media. And I'm just curious, given that you guys try to play to a certain standard regardless of who the opponent is, and given that the stakes are for the national championship, has Coach Saban even brought up that this game is different because of the rematch, has he brought that up at all with y'all?

For us, it's all about (inaudible); really what he's talking about and we understand is that what we've done in the past, obviously it's good to watch the film, it's good to learn from that, but we don't start with any more points because of anything that's happened with the past. Anything in the past is exactly that, in the past. You don't get any carry-over.

So it's going to be a new game, and we have to earn the outcome that we want. So it's really just been knowing that whatever's happened in the past doesn't entitle you to anything at all. You learn from it, but we have to understand we're playing a completely different game. We have to understand that we have to earn that for 60 minutes.

Again, it starts with preparation and day by day putting ourselves in the position to be successful when the game starts. But we understand it's different. We have to earn it. Anything that happened in the past, learn from it but it's in the past. It's on us to work day in, day out and to earn the outcome that we want.

RB Brian Robinson Jr.

Q: Brian, you guys had some close calls during the regular season, the LSU game, Auburn, Florida. What has made you guys – but you've been dominant in the postseason in these games – what's been the difference? Why have you all been so much better in these last two games than you were maybe in some of the games in the regular season?

I think some of those close calls we had during the season just helped us just play to the final second of the game. And we had to battle with a team all the way to the end of the game. And with those experiences just going into other games, we have experienced just playing to the last second, so we know what we're comfortable with coming from behind or playing from behind, seven to 10 points. And also just playing a full game and getting the team's best out of them for 60 minutes.

That's kind of helped us going into bigger games and kind of expect teams to play us for a whole 60 minutes. And we just had to prepare to have to play full games and we'll get every team's best for the full game.

Q: Obviously the lights are really bright for the biggest game of the year, but I feel it's a bit brighter for you after the game that you had in the semifinals. Do you embrace that pressure after the monster game you have, especially with a defense like this, that's going to say bring it on to the Georgia defense?

I don't really embrace the pressure only because, I mean, it's not like it's nothing I've not seen before. I've seen this team. I've seen this defense before.

Also, with these lights shining bright, I've also been under these lights before multiple times. So I have experience playing games like this under these lights and against times like Georgia. And with me already seeing Georgia, playing them one time this season, I kind of know what to expect from them.

I know what kind of personnel to expect from them. So it's not any more pressure than how it was when I played in that SEC Championship game.

Q: As one of the handful of players who experienced the national championship game against Georgia a few years back, just wondering what you remember most about that game, aside from second and 26, and whether that experience has helped lead to this moment in terms of knowing the possibilities of what you guys can accomplish?

Well, really the experience with that game just helped me just understand the competition level, just Alabama and Georgia football. And if you put Alabama and Georgia football on this stage, national championship game, usually that's what it will come down to, it will come down to two teams brawling, fighting until the end.

Just with that game, we had to make several adjustments on both sides of the ball, on the offensive side of the ball and defensive side of the ball. I think I remember during that game, Najee – Najee got a chance to step up and play a big role with some carries in the game as a freshman.

Tua got a chance to come in the second half and lead the team to a win. So everything wasn't going perfect for us that day. We still had to make some adjustments on the offensive side of the ball and defensive side. And just being a team, just preparing for the opportunity when it came. A lot of guys stepped up when their numbers were called.

Tua threw the ball to Smitty to end the game on second and 26, and both of those guys were freshmen who probably didn't play that much that year or made as many plays that year as they might have wanted to, but those guys won the championship game for us.

Q: There's always questions to ask this time of year about how long Alabama's hold over the sport will last. What is the common thing you've seen year to year from the inside that's made this program so successful?

The main thing I've seen from the inside just over the years is, it don't matter who walks into this building or for whatever role, whatever coaching role or whatever player that walks into that building, it's the same type of mindset: Everybody comes in, just grinds day in, day out.

Coaches come and go. You've got players going out to the draft every year. And you've got guys who step up every year and play a significant role for this team, probably a much bigger role than they played the year before.

But it's just one of those places where you know you're going to get better with the people around you. And the coaching staff, everybody push each other to get better every year so that we can have the opportunity to play for back-to-back SEC championships and go to the playoffs back-to-back years because we prepared the same way, if not harder every year.

Q: Coach's jacket that he wore on the plane yesterday. Have you seen him wear that before? And if that's the first time, how did the team react when you guys saw that?

That was probably my first time seeing Coach wear that jacket. But we was coming up here to Indianapolis. We knew it was going to be real cold outside. He told us to grab a coat.

We reacted to – that was the coat he grabbed to keep him so warm for that time being down here.

Q: You've been in Tuscaloosa for a long time, specifically at Alabama. Have you had a chance to look back and reflect at your journey over the years, from a reserve running back to now starting on college football's biggest stage? What is some advice that Coach Saban or maybe someone else has given you over the years that has really stuck with you throughout this whole process?

Just reflecting on my time here, it's been four or five years. Just a lot of progress I've made over the years, really just having Coach Saban just being there to motivate me, when things weren't always going my way.

Just constantly repeating, just be where your feet are and trust the process. And it's something that can go through one ear and out the other one, you hear it so much, when somebody repeats those lines so much.

But it's something that is so important and something that most people should pick up on because it can help you in situations where you've got to trust the situation that you're in, trust the process that it will lead you to where you want to go.

Q: You've mentioned how this is your fourth national championship game appearance. For some of the young guys that are going to be playing in this or on the sideline for this the first time, what's your advice to them getting ready for Monday's game?

My advice to some of the younger guys playing, this is the biggest game of their career. And I don't want those guys to not be prepared for it, I want those guys to be as prepared as they possibly can for it. This is a big stage. Two great teams playing against each other. You don't want to be that one player on the team who lets the team down because you weren't prepared enough or you make mental errors or mistakes on the field that affects your side of the ball.

So my biggest advice to those guys is to prepare as hard as they possibly can so that they'll be ready for it, the opportunity to start or play a lot as a young guy.

Q: You have played with a lot of different great players at Alabama, different quarterbacks. How would you describe Bryce's mobility as being different than Tua and Jalen? And two, was there a moment when Bryce kind of won you over? A lot of times these guys come in highly ranked but obviously they have to earn their respect behind closed doors and on the field. Just comparing his mobility to Tua and Jalen and kind of your Bryce Young moment.

Bryce's mobility is just different, because offensively he's a lot smaller than the other guys. So he can cover himself up real well. He can move around the pocket. He can move out of the pocket. He has speed. He has a powerful arm.

He pretty much can do everything any other quarterback can do. But the thing that just separates him is his ability to duck and avoid and shed tackles because of his size and ability to scramble and get out of the pocket.

And with Bryce, this whole year he's earned respect from not just me but everybody on the University of Alabama football team just by everything, like, just stepping up into his role and handling his business as a professional.

And he's done that on a high level all year and beside me, for a guy who is a fifth-year senior, who has been here around a lot of great players, seeing it from someone who is a lot younger than me, it's helped me – I saw him on a level of the older guys. It made me feel good because it felt like he was mature and ready for the opportunity, he prepared himself for it, and he left no doubt every time he went out on the field.

Q: Speaking of things, that Bryce can do everything, the last couple of games where he made those pitches to you, is that something you worked on as far back as offseason workouts, or did the first that happened in a game or practice, did that take you by surprise? It's not something you see every Saturday on the football field.

It really comes from our quarterback/running back chemistry, the chemistry we've built playing beside each other all year. Comes from me kind of being in the right place at the right time. And just playing football, being instinctive with the ball.

When I notice he's in trouble, I try to make myself present to where we can make a play, to fix the situation we're in. And he has his eyes open. He scans the field well. So if he ever gets in trouble and I'm anywhere near him, he'll try to find a way to just get me a ball to gain some positive yardage out of what had been a negative-yard play.

Just playing instinctive football, us just out there playing. Just when everything don't go your way, sometimes you've got to find a way to fix the situation. So that's kind of where that comes from.

Q: With this being your senior year, topping it off with another national championship appearance, what's your mentality been like going into this final game for you and your career?

My mentality is just I want to lay it all on the line for my team, for my school, with this being my last time suiting up for Alabama, I just want to leave no doubt that this university is like truly in my heart, and I love it. And I'll do anything to see us come out on top one more last time before I have to leave.