Buckeyes LB Pete Werner compares Alabama RB Najee Harris to Clemson's Travis Etienne
There’s no question Ohio State’s defense is going to have its hands full trying to slow down Alabama’s offense. With a three-headed monster like QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris and WR DeVonta Smith, it’s nearly impossible to stop the Crimson Tide.
But that’s the challenge the Buckeyes face in Monday night’s national title bout.
Speaking with the media on Thursday, Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner was asked about trying to slow down Harris and the Alabama rushing attack. He compared Harris to Clemson’s star back Travis Etienne, who Ohio State was able to contain pretty well in the Sugar Bowl.
“Yeah, so they compare pretty close,” Werner said. “They’re two of the top backs in the country. The thing to look more about Najee Harris is he’s more of a physical guy, but then we have certain things to prep for that. The guys are a little bit different, but as long as we do what we did for Etienne, then I think we’ll be very good at stopping him.”
Etienne totaled just 32 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for the Tigers in the 49-28 Sugar Bowl loss to the Buckeyes. He did total 64 receiving yards on 4 catches, but failed to get anything going as a ball carrier.
Harris is going to be tough to defend, piling up 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground this season. He’s also added 346 receiving yards and 3 touchdown catches.
“I think that they have a great game plan on offense to get him the ball in a variety of ways,” Werner said. “Their offensive line, I credit them a lot. But he’s very patient. He’s a very patient back and he finds the holes. It might look cloudy at some times, but then you see him get six, seven, eight yards when he should have gotten zero. He’s a very good back. He’s good at making you miss, and they just do a very good job utilizing him in the run and pass game to make him a real threat from a defensive perspective.”
Ohio State will have its hands full, but it was able to shut down Etienne and Clemson. Can the Buckeyes do the same against Alabama?