Friday, January 8, 2010

Q&A: Marcell Dareus Postgame

Alabama sophomore defensive end Marcell Dareus, a rising star and a key cog to Nick Saban's 3-4 defense, spoke to the media following Alabama's victory in the BCS Championship. He made the pivotal play of the game when he returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 24-6 lead heading into halftime earning him defensive MVP honors.

I just wondered if you could talk about the big plays you had, the one where you did knock out Colt McCoy when you hit him, if you knew he was hurt, and then obviously the interception return, as well.

When it came to the first play of McCoy, I really didn't try to hit him that hard. I didn't want to hurt him. It was a part of the game. You don't think, you just react, and I just reacted to what I saw. It is a part of the game. I didn't really try to hurt him.

But they tried to shuffle pass and Brandon Deaderick caught the running back while he was fumbling it, and my first reaction was grab the ball, and then after that I blanked out, and all I was thinking about is Mark Ingram and Javier (Arenas) and just doing moves I didn't think I could do. I was like, I can't believe I pulled off that screen. I saw that lineman coming for my legs, and my first reaction was to spin. I looked to my left and I saw Eryk Anders, I knew it was a touchdown. I could not wait to get to the end zone.

Could you just talk about the emotions of accomplishing what you set out to accomplish? You win the National Championship, it's a perfect season, your names are engrained in at least the minds of National Championship fans forever. What does it mean, this accomplishment?

Coach always talked about working hard. It's always good to bring it back. We worked all year for it, and we put in the time, we put in the sweat, and we all hurt. As you can see, I have a knee brace and an elbow brace on the left side of my body. It was pretty hard, but we pushed through it.

Coach always told us work hard. If you're hurt, sit down. If you feel like you can play, go out there and play and give it your all. Don't go out there and half step because you think you're hurt. Give it your all, and we just went out there and played our best, not taking anything from Texas.

Coach Saban talks a lot about process and about buying into his system he has over the past couple of years. Tell me, was there one particular moment for the players, the athletes, the team, a turning point when you knew it was going to work, when you really started to believe?

I would say last year when me and Mark were freshmen, and we saw a lot of the seniors and upperclassmen bought into the system. They had the same team we had the year before and bought into the system and turned our whole program around. We will always be remembered as the team that turned the University of Alabama program around. As they bought into the system, we were like we were going to make it our thing to buy into the system, and it took a little bit of – now we won the National Championship. We got our first Heisman Trophy winner, and me, I can't believe I got Defensive MVP. We just came so far and worked so hard, and that's why we bought into the system, and we knew it was going to work.

When Colt went out of the game and you're facing the opponent, are you seeing, are you smelling fear, or did you see more determination in them?

I really didn't know that Colt was hurt. He wasn't playing anymore until I got to the sideline a couple plays after. It wasn't about seeing the fear, I saw determination. They were like, man, we're not going down without a fight. Just because our leader is down, we're still going to play hard, we're still going to give them a fight.

I mean, I saw more determination in them. They weren't going to give up. I knew they weren't going to give up. The quarterback just had to work his way – when he got in, he warmed up, and he started doing better. He did hurt us and stuff like that, but we fought through that. I knew he wasn't going to stop, so we couldn't stop ourselves.

Marcell, coming from the Birmingham area, do you have anything you want to tell your friends and family back home watching the game, and the second part of that is, when you came out of Huffman High School are these the things that you envisioned?

Of course not. You know, I came out of Birmingham, I was a mediocre recruit. I felt like I was always better, but I mean, it is what it is. I didn't think I was going to work hard and get to where I am today, where I am now, and accomplish the things that I have accomplished.

I mean, my coaches always told me hard work isn’t going to hurt nobody, and I always worked hard for everything. I knew it wouldn't come easy and I knew what it was going to take to get it.

And so as for everybody back home watching the game, Roll, Tide, Roll, and I'll be back in the house before this weekend.