Here’s what Jim Harbaugh said about Alabama’s key playmakers ahead of Rose Bowl showdown

The Rose Bowl kicks off on New Year’s Day with No. 1 Michigan (13-0) taking on No. 4 Alabama (12-1) with a trip to the national championship on the line.

A close contest is expected and there’s no margin for error for either team, something Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh realizes. When speaking with the media on Sunday morning Harbaugh evaluated what he sees from the Alabama offense and defense.

Harbaugh on Alabama’s offense

How to limit Alabama QB Jalen Milroe’s production

“Really all 11 on our defense. He’s a great player. Great runner. Did 500 some yards of scramble yards, another 250 or so in quarterback-driven runs, outstanding thrower, big offensive line. Outstanding running backs, tight ends, receivers. All 11 for us really on defense. We’ve got a game plan, and getting things cleaned up.”

Analysis: Milroe ranks fourth nationally in passer rating at 177.48, with a 65 percent completion rate, 2,718 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, and six interceptions. Milroe’s also been electric on the ground with 693 sack-adjusted rushing yards and 12 rushing scores.

Thoughts on Alabama WR Isaiah Bond

“Creates separation, increases separation, snatch the ball out of the air, good with the ball security. It’s like Coach said, it’s a dangerous offense to defend. You have to defend the play, and then you have to — the next play, which is in the same play because they do such a good job of extending the play.”

Analysis: Bond has 44 receptions for 621 yards this season with four touchdowns. Bond’s been especially clutch as late, including a last-minute game-winning 31-yard touchdown reception against Auburn to put Alabama up 27-24.

Harbaugh on Alabama’s defense

Alabama’s run defense

“Alabama’s defense, really good. Defending the run up the middle and on the perimeter. The backers can run. The edges are outstanding. There’s always an edge to the defense.”

Analysis: Alabama ranks No. 18 in total defense and No. 32 in rushing defense. Linebacker Dallas Turner was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and has nine sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles this season. Other players to look out for in run support are LB Jihaad Campbell (65 total tackles) and LB Deontae Lawson (61 total tackles).

On Alabama’s passing defense

“In the passing game, it’s the combination of the really good coverage and the pressure on the quarterback. Pass more out of a three-down scheme, appears to be more of a four-down scheme right now, a 4-2-5, and two potential first-round picks at corner (Terrion Arnond and Kool-Aid McKinstry) I would say. All-American safety (Caleb Downs). Really good safety play. Very well-coached. Very good. Not so much of the split safety coverages as we look to face them right now, but that combination of pressure and really good coverage, there’s no real weak points to attack in the defense.”

“We’re going to have to play really good on offense to be able to move the ball.”

Analysis: Alabama ranks No. 23 in passing defense. Safety Caleb Downs has tallied 99 total tackles with, two interceptions and one forced fumble this season. Cornerback Terrion Arnold leads the Crimson Tide with five interceptions.

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