Alabama's 'selfless' attitude aided Playoff run

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Kelly Ward

PHOENIX — All Dillon Lee did was secure the shutout. His one-handed interception late in the 38-0 rout of No. 3 Michigan State in the College Football Playoff semifinal kept the Spartans from a late score. The game was already in hand.

His teammates were more than excited, mobbing him after the turnover as if it had won them the game.

“I was excited,” wide receiver ArDarius Stewart said. “I was probably one of the first ones that grabbed him.”

For Stewart, that’s what it’s all about, being happy for your teammates and feeding off that energy.

Break down the stats all you want. Since the Ole Miss loss in September, Alabama has outscored its opponents 382-117. The defense hasn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in a game and has only allowed two twice (Tennessee and LSU).

Break down plays. Both teams have talent. There’s a reason Alabama and Clemson are playing for the national championship.

But there’s always more than just numbers.

“That’s what it’s about, being happy for your teammates,” tight end O.J. Howard said. “It’s a team sport. I’d rather see someone else score a touchdown and me block for them than me catch a touchdown. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I think a lot of guys on our team are like that also and that’s what makes this team so special.”

It started in the offseason with workouts. It started in the spring and continued in the summer. The workouts and practices bonded this team. 

“We’ve all been through the same adversity, the same ups and downs, cry, blood, sweat, everything so when somebody else on our team does well, we have no choice but to feel just as happy for them as if it was our success,” running back Kenyan Drake said.

To an extent, that attitude is responsible for where Alabama is: one day away from the national title game, a win away from its fourth title in seven years.

“We’re just a family,” wide receiver Richard Mullaney said. “Everyone always preaches, ‘Family. We’re a family. Blah, blah, blah’ but honestly like I’ve never been so close with a group of guys before. We all love each other and when one person succeeds, we all succeed.”

Said linebacker Reggie Ragland: “When you get to that point as a team, you show you got a good chance of being successful as a team and I love when my teammates do great plays and seeing them and the expression on their face. It’s not about me. It’s about the team and seeing my teammates do great, it makes me happy.”