Square Gets Second Title Opportunity
"We know what it feels like in the moment, being in that environment," said Damion Square before his team left following Wednesday's practice for New Orleans. "Hopefully, everybody can go out there and be calm, because we have been there before."
Alabama, 11-1 and ranked second in the nation, takes on undefeated (13-0) and top-ranked LSU in the BCS National Championship Game at 7:30 p.m. CST Monday in the Louisiana Superdome. ESPN will televise the game.
Square has started all 12 games for the Crimson Tide at defensive end this season. He has 30 tackles, including seven for losses of 15 yards and one sack. He also has three quarterback pressures and broke up one pass.
His production increased late in the season with 18 tackles (four and a half for loss and his sack) in the final four games. In the Nov. 5 game against LSU he had a career-best six tackles, including being in on two tackles for loss, and had one quarterback pressure. LSU won that game in overtime, 9-6.
Square, a 6-3, 285-pound junior from Houston, was asked if the younger players are asking the veterans about the atmosphere of a national championship game. He said the younger players trust the veterans, but don't need to ask questions. "when you come to this program, you feel like a champion," he said. "I don't think they are going to be surprised by the moment, either. That's the way we practice; that's the way we think; that's the way we prepare – to be in the moment. We are going to be there."
Although the stakes are obviously higher in a national championship game, Square said from a player's standpoint "This game isn't any different from any other game. You have to go out there and execute. We have a game plan. You have to go out there and do what Coach [Nick Saban] says for us to do and win the game."
Square said because he was unable to play in the national championship game two years ago he values this situation. "Every day since that game I've been looking for another opportunity to be on that stage, and now that opportunity is here and I've got to make the best of it."
Square understands that LSU will be a different team than the one Alabama played two months ago. The primary difference is that senior drop-back passer Jarrett Lee, who was the starting quarterback against the Tide, has been shelved and senior Jordan Jefferson, an athletic run-pass quarterback, has taken over.
Square said Jefferson "is a guy who can run. It's hard to be a relentless pass rusher with a guy who can come. It's hard to come around that corner or try to make a move on the offensive tackle when you've got a guy who can dip out of the pocket and make a play with his legs.
"You've got to control rush and understand what the guy on the other side of you is doing so there is some kind of pocket there to keep him contained and make him throw the ball."
Square doesn't know if Alabama has seen all that Jefferson can do.
"He's a great player, so I'm sure he can pull out some other things," Square said. "We're going to prepare against the things he has shown us so far. That's how you prepare. You have to prepare for the things you have seen. I know he's a great athlete and he's going to try new things, and when he does we're going to come to the sideline and draw it up and go out there and execute."
Square thinks that he has made progress this year. "I feel like I've played with more confidence," he said. "I feel like the guys in the ‘D' behind me and beside me trust me. That's what I want to bring to the defense: trust. I want the guys to believe that I'm going to get my job done, no question. I want to be that guy that executes my assignments. I feel like I've done a pretty good job of that this year."
And in the national championship game?
"I want to make more plays for my defense," he said. "Complete my assignment better and faster. Get to the ball. Make turnovers."
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