Auburn did not advance to the national championship game but Gus Malzahn did make it out to Santa Clara, Ca., for the matchup and was featured on SEC Network leading up to the game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson.

Malzahn was a guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show” on Monday leading up to the game and was asked to share his key to the game between the SEC’s champion vs. the ACC’s champion. According to the Auburn coach, it comes down to a player he is very familiar with, having both recruited and competed against Alabama defensive lineman, Quinnen Williams.

“I’ve been coaching against Nick and Alabama a long time and I really believe he is the most disruptive inside guy since I’ve been here. You watch him on film, it can depress you,” Malzahn said on the show. “He’s great against the gap game when you block back, he’s great when you double team, zone one, zone two and in pass protection — you can slide three that way and he’s slippery and can get through.

“I really think that’s the key to this game, how well will (Clemson) be able to control him, because he can change the game. He’s a dominant player.”

Considering most view this Alabama-Clemson matchup as a contest featuring two explosive and dynamic offenses, it is interesting to see an offensive-minded coach key in on an interior defensive lineman. That being said, Malzahn knows first-hand just how well Williams can blow up an entire gameplan, along with several other SEC coaches around the league.