Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban told ESPN this week he will "never get over" the team's 35-31 College Football Playoff National Championship Game loss to the Clemson Tigers.
"I never got over the returned field goal at Auburn," Saban said, according to ESPN.com's Chris Low. "I never got over playing poorly against Ohio State and losing that game late. And then in this game, we didn't play very well, and Clemson did when they had to. That's what eats at you."
Saban, to his credit, took responsibility for the dramatic loss that Deshaun Watson capped off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining in regulation.
"I didn't do a good job, whether it was keeping the team focused, making sure the team took the ownership they needed to take in those games ... whatever," he said, per Low. "I don't know what it was. But I do know it's on me, and we'll go on and all learn from it."
With the crushing national title game loss a thing of the past, all Saban and the Crimson Tide can do is turn their attention toward another trip to the game's biggest stage as the 2017 season approaches.
And while the Tide may be losing key contributors like Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Marlon Humphrey, O.J. Howard, Eddie Jackson and ArDarius Stewart to the NFL draft, quarterback Jalen Hurts is primed for improvement after he was forced to learn on the fly as a true freshman.
"Last year with Jalen, because he was a freshman and because of his athleticism, we became almost more of a quarterback-run, spread team, and that's not really what we want to be," Saban said Thursday on WJOX 94.5 FM (h/t AL.com's Rainer Sabin). "We want to be more pro style as we were, with a mix of a spread."
Hurts will get a chance to flash those improvements Saturday at Alabama's annual A-Day Spring Game before the Crimson Tide begin preparations for their season opener Sept. 2 against the Florida State Seminoles.
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