South Carolina has just one player on its roster, and two coaches, who have been part of a team that has beaten a Nick Saban-led Alabama squad.
Dan Werner was an assistant coach at Mississippi when the Rebels beat Alabama in 2014 and 2015, and Bryan McClendon was a graduate assistant at Georgia when the Bulldogs handed Saban his first loss as Crimson Tide head coach in 2007.
But only Tavien Feaster — who was at Clemson when the Tigers beat Alabama in the 2017 and 2019 national championship games — has done it as a player.
“It’s going to be a tough, fast, physical team, very disciplined guys,” Feaster said of the Crimson Tide. “And they’re going to bring it every play. We’ve got to go out there and give it our best and can’t let our guard down.
“It’s going to be a four-quarter game.”
The running back, who has 136 yards (7.2 per carry) and a rushing touchdown and also five catches for 30 yards so far this season, hopes the success he has had against Alabama carries over to his new team.
“It’s going to be a fist fight,” Feaster said. “A four-quarter game. They’re not going to go away and we’re not going to go away. It’s going to be a tough, tough game.”
South Carolina watched a few clips from last year’s national championship game on Tuesday, but Feaster said it wasn’t too strange.
“That’s the way to prepare, to watch a great team that executed on all cylinders and won,” Feaster said.
Feaster spoke Tuesday multiple times about how important it will be for the Gamecocks to execute every play, and in all three phases of the game.
Like the last time Feaster played Alabama, he will be on a team led by a freshman quarterback. Although Clemson signal caller Trevor Lawrence started 10 games before he led the Tigers to a win over Alabama, Feaster sees similar comfort in then Gamecocks’ Ryan Hilinski, who will make just his second college start on Saturday.
“I think he’ll be good. He’s a pretty chill guy, a calm guy,” Feaster said. “He studies. He works hard. I think it’ll be good for him and I think he’ll have a great game.”
“I just tell him that it’s a football game,” Feaster added later. “It’s just football. Relax and play your game. Just be you.”
Will Muschamp agreed when asked a question if having someone with Feaster’s experience makes a difference in the locker room when playing a team like Alabama.
“I think a lot of our guys have talked to him about his experiences, and I think that’s certainly beneficial for us,” the Gamecock head coach said. “Tavien’s a very bright guy, stays to himself, has been a great teammate since he’s been here and I’m really happy to have him in the organization.”
Feaster, a Spartanburg native, had three carries for 11 yards in last season’s title game.