PHOENIX — Mackensie Alexander doesn’t want to talk about Calvin Ridley.
Clemson’s All-American cornerback contends that enough people have talked about Ridley so far that he doesn’t need to engage in anymore ego stroking of Alabama’s top receiver.
“I’m not about boosting their guys up. I’m all about earning everything because I’ve earned everything my whole life,” Alexander said a he prepares for Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game. “So I’m not going to sit here and sell anybody dreams and talk about the guy, how talented he is. I respect all of my opponents. But when it’s time to go and compete and go out there, I don’t have time to boost anybody’s ego or tell them how good they are. I don’t stroke anybody, but then nobody stroked me my whole life.”
Alexander, a redshirt sophomore, is a quintessential shutdown corner. He hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown in 23 games. In the semifinal against Oklahoma, the Sooners threw six passes Alexander’s way and only completed two for 27 yards.
Alexander wouldn’t say whether he’d play man-to-man on Ridley — Clemson’s corners have traditionally kept their boundaries — but a matchup of the game’s best receiver against the game’s best corner seems like something Alexander would enjoy.
“He ain’t Will Fuller fast,” Alexander said comparing Ridley to Notre Dame’s star receiver. “I’m fast, too. So there’s no biggie. There’s no big deal. This is not my first rodeo.
“Football is easy. If you dedicate your time into it, football is easy. Once you understand what's going on, who he is and what he does, how he makes his plays, it’s like taking candy from a baby.”
Alexander’s confidence is a little shocking, but that’s simply because he’s shied away from the media. He’s only spoken to the media four times this season, and two have been required by the College Football Playoff in the past two weeks. Still, he revels in being able to show off not only his personality, but his football acumen. He touted knowing various abstract stats on Alabama, including the fact that Ridley has eight catches of 40 yards or longer.
Alexander doesn’t shy away from acknowledging Ridley’s talent, but he’s also quick to point out that he’s played several other talented receivers this year and that all have struggled against him. Fuller had two catches for 37 yards against the Tigers, his lowest output of the season.
Ridley didn’t have much to say about Alexander, either. He said coaches made him aware of who Alexander was, but that it didn’t change his gameplan. In fact, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin might be better off moving Ridley, especially if Clemson isn’t going to play man-to-man. Ridley might find better success against Clemson's other corner Cordrea Tankersley, who's been picked on while opponents try to avoid Alexander.
Regardless of the matchup, Alexander is confident his team can handle the challenge of what appeared to be an invigorated Alabama passing game. Quarterback Jacob Coker completed a season-high 25 of 30 passes for a season-high 286 yards in the CFP semifinal against Michigan State. It was an unexpected way for Alabama to win the game considering how prolific its running game has been all season, and it also added another offensive element with which Clemson must contend.
“You go out there to compete, be ready to go,” Alexander said. “You might have a little edge depending on who he is and what you hear about him. Football is football, it doesn’t change anything this week.”
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