GINA LEHE: At this time we are joined by Clelin Ferrell from Clemson University. Clelin, if you could start and provide brief opening comments on how the focus has shifted since the Fiesta Bowl in preparation for the national championship game.

CLELIN FERRELL: Definitely, I mean, the Fiesta Bowl was a very big accomplishment for us. But I feel like we’re past that now because we’re focused at the next task at hand, which is winning the national championship.

The whole thing is that we celebrated that moment the night of and the day after. But we’re focused on the next task, and that’s winning the national championship. We’re all focused on Alabama now.

GINA LEHE: We will now open it up for questions for Clelin.

How instrumental has Coach Hobby been in your development here over the last couple of years?

CLELIN FERRELL: Oh, he’s been huge. I mean, I can’t really put into words how much he’s helped me grow as a player and as a person. One of the big things playing defensive end here at Clemson that’s big is your attitude, not just focusing on your technique or your skill as a player, your attitude is something that shows because you have to want to be a great player, you have to want that for yourself.

He’s kind of helped me develop that on the field and off the field as well. It just goes back into my role back in school and as a person, doing the right things off the field, giving back to my community and stuff like that.

He’s helped me an unexpectable [sic] amount as far as my development as a player and a person.

What type of a coach is he?

CLELIN FERRELL: I mean, y’all talk about Coach V all the time because he’s so intense. But Coach Hobby is a very, very, very intense coach. He wants the best from his players every day.

That’s something that I love about him because it’s hard to go out there and give your best every day. But he expects that of us because he wants the best for us.

He wants us to exhaust the moment and take advantage of our opportunities.

That’s the type of guy he is. He’s a guy that wants you to give your all every day. He’s going to give you all the tools you need to be successful, through game planning or through coaching or through film study or whatever.

He wants you to have success on the field. That’s one of the things I love about him. He cares about his players. He’s going to fight for us on and off the field, in those meetings with the coaches and stuff like that, and in those academic meetings, he fights for us. He always looks out for us. We love him as a coach. We’d walk through a wall for that guy.

Clelin, what is your evaluation of Jalen Hurts? Do you see anything on film as a defense that you can exploit?

CLELIN FERRELL: I don’t know about anything that we can exploit. I know he’s a very, very, very good player. He obviously makes their offense even more dynamic because usually Alabama just has a pocket pass and stuff like that. He’s a guy that can definitely use his feet, has that breakaway speed, but he’s also a very good thrower. He’s one of the guys that makes it very hard to defend against because he can do so many things. It’s crazy to see the amount of success that he’s having as a true freshman. Hats off to him.

But I feel like we’re going to be ready for the task at hand. We just have to stick to the game plan. He does a lot of things that are very difficult to defend. A very, very good player.

Obviously last year, O.J. Howard had a huge game against you guys. Is there any concern about overcompensating for what he did last year, affecting the overall defense, how you guys play?

CLELIN FERRELL: No, I don’t think we’ll have any concern about overcompensating because Alabama has a lot of offensive weapons. You can’t just really focus upon one guy because they have a lot of tools that can make a lot of big plays for them. They have two of the best receivers in the country. You obviously have O.J. Howard. The quarterback is very, very good. They have two or three dynamic backs that can make a big play, break it for a big run at any time.

We have to play together as a whole defense, focus, kind of hold off those guys from making big plays and stuff like that.

Clelin, I know you weren’t able to be on the field last year in Glendale. What do you remember from that experience? How much do you still talk about it, especially given the fact that you have the same team again?

CLELIN FERRELL: Man, I mean, I remember just being out there with my teammates, just kind of soaking up the moment. It was a great experience for us.

But as far as the game, just remembering like the feeling after the game in the locker room. I feel like a lot of guys had regret about the game. A lot of guys left some doubt on that field. You have a lot of guys who just left it all out there on the field. Some guys did everything they got. In the locker room, there were definitely some guys who felt they didn’t leave it all out on field, they had some regrets.

It’s one of the things we have to focus back on it this year. We’re blessed enough to get this opportunity again. We have to come in and exhaust the moment, leave everything out there on the field. We feel if we do that, we’ll be able to hold up the trophy again this year.

Scarbrough, what kind of production have you seen from him?

CLELIN FERRELL: He’s a very good player. He’s definitely a big back. They have Damien Harris back there, as well, who can play. He’s a little bit smaller. He’s like a bowling ball back there.

You know Alabama. You know those are big, physical guys who can run very well. It’s kind of crazy to see the monster sets that a guy like Scarbrough has had over the last couple games. He looks like he’s came ready to play.

He came onto the scene. I heard about a couple of injuries that he’s had in his past. He seems like he’s a guy who just bounces back and is playing very well right now. He’s someone we’re definitely going to be ready for.

We have to bring our hard hats. He obviously can bring the noise when he runs the ball. He’s a very hard runner. He’s one of the guys we’re going to have to game tackle him, just focus on getting hands on him and not arm tackle him in this game because he’s a very good player.

I wanted to ask you about Deshaun Watson, not only the year he’s had, but how he has been a guy that’s basically been a key as far as this program becoming what it is.

CLELIN FERRELL: No question he’s been probably the biggest piece to us as a program and the amount of success that we’ve had. A lot of people get overwhelmed with what Coach Swinney says about him, the amount of praise he gives him.

When you ask the players here, they’ll tell you the type of guy he is, it’s crazy, because he’s such a great player. We really understand the amount of work he puts into the game, the fact of poise and stature that he has as a person who you want to root for. That’s just a guy we want to play for.

We understand without him, we probably wouldn’t be where we are right now because of the type of player and person that he is. He’s not just a great player, but he makes everybody on the team want to play for him.

It’s something we’re very blessed to have him on this team because we know how much of a program-changer that he is.

Clelin, following up on the regret thing. How much did that carry into off-season workouts? Do you remember one or two guys being vocal about that, saying, Don’t leave anything to chance, give everything you have?

CLELIN FERRELL: Oh, yeah, definitely. From a defensive standpoint, obviously Ben Boulware was a guy who was kind of that vocal leader for us. He was kind of a guy that talked about there was some guys on that team who are in the NFL right now or graduated or aren’t with the team anymore, or that are still on the team, who felt like they could have gave a little bit more in the national championship game.

From the offensive standpoint, I would say Jay Guillermo was a guy who stepped up for the offense, keeping the focus on the task at hand.

Going into the whole off-season then this past year, it was kind of crazy seeing. It was a short off-season because we did play in the national championship last year. It was kind of crazy just seeing the amount of work and the focus that we had coming into this year and how that carried over into the season. So it was kind of crazy.

But just seeing the type of leaders we have here, you can see why we’ve had the success we’ve had this year. So definitely.

GINA LEHE: That concludes our session with Clelin. We appreciate your time. We’ll let you go ahead and get back with your teammates.