WATCH: Nick Saban, Jake Coker, Cyrus Jones Postgame Press Conference After Win Over Michigan State
ARLINGTON, Texas – For any drama on the field, it was largely uneventful afterward during postgame interviews.
For the winning team, that’s usually a strong indication that the game played out the way it liked.
Alabama will play for its fourth national championship in seven years after beating Michigan State, 38-0, in the second annual College Football Playoff semifinals Thursday. All of that success, of course, has come under the same head coach, Nick Saban.
“I'm really, really proud of our team,” Saban said. “I think last year when we came to this game, we were happy just to take part in the game. I think this year we wanted to sort of take the game. And really thought our guys had a vision of what they wanted and everybody paid the price for what they had to do in preparation. And there was no circumstance in that game out there today that changed anybody's feeling about how they wanted to compete and how they wanted to play.”
Quarterback Jake Coker and cornerback Cyrus Jones joined Saban during the postgame press conference as the Cotton Bowl’s Offensive and Defensive MVPs, respectively.
Coker completed 25 of 30 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to freshman receiver Calvin Ridley. Jones had a key interception at the end of the first half, then later returned his fourth punt return touchdown of the season in the third quarter to put the Crimson Tide up 24-0.
Statistically, Running back Derrick Henry, playing in his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy earlier this month, did not take over but still had an effective game, rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries against one of the top run defenses in the nation. In the process, he also tied and set a few rushing records for the fourth straight game.
Much of the postgame press conference revolved around Alabama’s sharper focus in the buildup to this game compared to its College Football Playoff loss a season ago against Ohio State, a 42-35 decision.
“This year's team was totally focused on the game,” Saban said. “I mean, I let them decide what the curfews are, 12:00, 12:00, 11:00, 11:00. I mean, the whole time we were here, it was total focus on winning the game. And that was the most important thing, and there wasn't anything else that – it wasn't a bowl game to go have a good time. It was we want to play well in this game, and I certainly think we did that.”
Alabama, the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff, will now play top-seeded Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Jan. 11. The Tigers beat the Sooners, 37-17, in the other semifinal played earlier Thursday in the Orange Bowl.
Last season, Alabama fell in the semifinals against eventual champion Ohio State. The Crimson Tide is the only returning team from the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Saban, who has never lost in his four previous national championship game appearances (three with Alabama, one with LSU). A win against Clemson would move him within one of the record six national titles won by legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for his career.
Watch the video above to hear all of Saban, Coker and Jones’ postgame comments.
(Thanks to AL.com for Saban’s video.)
Watch other Alabama postgame interviews from Thursday’s win below: