COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two of the nation’s best cornerbacks, Shaun Wade of Ohio and Patrick Surtain II of Alabama, are likely to have their hands full during the national championship game on Monday night.
Both are highly decorated All -Americans and top NFL fans – which is best is the subject of a debate that this game might resolve. Every action and reaction is analyzed and rated in their matchups with some of the college game’s best receivers.
Wade played outside the cornerback for the first time this season. The Buckeyes (7-0) will be relying on him to contain DeVonta Smith, who was unstoppable against man-to-man reporting on her way to winning the Heisman Trophy, the first recipient in 29 years.« We have to put the best on the best and go from there, » Wade said this week.
Tide receiver John Metchie III – and the prospect of receiver Patrick Waddle playing in the game after spending much of the season with missed an injury – it will be even more difficult for Wade and the Buckeyes defense.
Wade has two interceptions, including a pick-6 that won the game against Indiana.
« He’s very smart », said Smith, who had seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns and helped Alabama (12-0) dominate Notre Dame in the semifinals. “He mixes up his technique a little. He’s a technician with everything he does. «
» I’m looking forward to it, « he said. » It’s my last game. I’m only guaranteed the last one so I’m looking forward to playing against him. «
Surtain competes with Ohio State’s top receivers duo Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Olave had two touchdown catches, including a staggering 56-yard bomb, when the Buckeyes beat Clemson in the semifinals .
« (Olave) makes a quick break at the top of his route, » said Surtain. « He’s also very patient and fluid with his route. He lets the defense guess. It’s an excellent vertical threat. That will of course be a challenge. «
Olave said the daily practice session against the Buckeyes’ NFL-linked defenders for the past three seasons has helped prepare for what Surtain will bring. Those players included US cornerback Jeff Okudah, which was the third choice in the 2020 draft.
« (Surtain) is long, fast, physical – can’t ask for much more in a DB, » said Olave. « And I played Okudah last year and he is His match. «
Kevin Wilson, Ohio State Offensive Coordinator, said Surtain is creating matchup issues that affect the entire game plan.
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« He’s such a great cover guy, » said Wilson. « He doesn’t need a lot of security, retention, or inside help. He can play a man one-on-one and that allows the defense to cling to other receivers, or that allows the defense to cheat with linebackers and safeguards to outperform you in the game and overtake. He’s a great player, the guy we hired hard. «
Surtain will be returning to Hard Rock Stadium, where his father was cornerback in the NFL. The elder Surtain was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1998 and spent seven seasons with the team. The younger Surtain, who grew up in South Florida, where his family still lives, was a newcomer to the stadium in the 2018 CFP semi-final win against Oklahoma.
« He will be there, » said Surtain. « I’m just looking forward to it. It’s impressive, you know? I know they’ll be happy to see me. I’ll be happy to see you. It’s going to be a great moment. »
Wade turned one down Suggested that playing on the same stage with Surtain, one of three finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the country’s best defensive player, would provide additional motivation.
« Really, no, » he said. « I’m just worried about winning this game and that’s the motivation right there – winning the national championship. »
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