ESPN's Chris Fowler on Alabama onside kick: "I saw them practice it a lot, and it puzzled me."
ESPN play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler called Alabama’s thrilling win against Clemson in the national title game last week.
So it makes sense that he would be privy to some details that the rest of us weren’t, especially when it comes to seeing some items during access to practice that most media members only wish were made available to everyone else.
When Fowler went on The Paul Finebaum show on Wednesday, he revealed that he had seen Alabama practicing the exact onside kick that the Crimson Tide used to surprise Clemson in the fourth quarter and ultimately helped push Alabama ahead in a close game.
In case you need a refresher, here’s the play:
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 12, 2016
And here’s what Fowler had to say to Finebaum during a clip which can be found here, or watched below:
“I saw them practice it a lot, and it puzzled me because they kept doing this little pooch kick. It never worked in practice, by the way, as well as it did in the game. I saw them do it before the Cotton Bowl, and I saw them do it again in the few practices I watched before the championship game. It was near the end of practice, but they’d do it even in the walk through the day before. Saban’s out there with his readers on his nose and in his suit directing the walk through in great detail as he always does, and they’re doing this kick and you’re thinking– when are they going to use that? That’s not a conventional onside kick, so even if you were trailing and you needed to recover it, you wouldn’t go to that. It was to be used the way he ended up using it– as a surprise. But I never thought that we would see it.
(Adam) Griffith kept trying it again and again, and not always with all the players out there. Sometimes he would try it on his own because that little pooch kick has to be placed, as you saw, in that little spot with the open area or it would be a penalty. You can’t give Clemson a chance to catch it, or the whole thing is ruined and there is no element of surprise there. So he had to put it in that exact spot. It show to me, Paul, the detail that I guess Saban is known for, but it’s just a great, important visible example of it.”