Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, college football’s highest-paid assistant, has a knack for moving opposing defenses out of their comfort zone. With multiple receiver sets led by an elite quarterback, Morris has had few problems this season obliterating ACC defenses with the perfect blend of scheme and speed.
He’s keen on big plays and keeping defenders off balance with a hurry-up attack that stacks up against other elite offenses in terms of talent. There’s a glaring problem with Morris’ stat-happy unit however and Clemson’s defense often suffers the same fate. Being physical is a major weakness and toughness is exactly what will be tested in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve in the Chick-Fil-Bowl against LSU.
Fierce, powerful defensive lines have been Clemson’s Krypronite.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd puts up eye-popping numbers in the passing game against less-than-stellar front fours on a consistent basis, spreading the ball to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington. But he, along with the rest of Clemson’s playmakers, have been average against SEC competition. Back when Auburn had a pulse in the season-opening kickoff game in Atlanta, Gene Chizik’s squad frustrated Boyd on numerous occasions and limited the All-ACC passer to a touchdown (he now has a conference-leading 34 TD passes) and a pick.
Boyd had trouble escaping pressure from the ends, especially Corey Lemonier, and finished with 58 yards rushing on 19 carries. Ellington provided all the Tigers needed though with a season-high 228-yard performance on the ground. Clemson rushed for 320 yards against Auburn, but that’s not happening against LSU, a team built on stopping the run with Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery filling up holes.
Les Miles’ staff won’t have to look far to devise a way to shut down what the orange Tigers do best. A simple call to Steve Spurrier could be in order. LSU can use four years worth of blueprints from South Carolina defensive coordinators Ellis Johnson and Lorenzo Ward to nullify the uptempo pace. The Gamecocks rarely blitzed during their fourth straight win over Clemson in November, but still put consistent pressure on Boyd.
Without rhythm, spread offenses usually falter and Clemson’s attack is no different.
Boyd was picked off twice and threw for 183 yards against the Gamecocks. He averaged 1.6 yards per carry and was sacked 4.5 times by Jadeveon Clowney. Last season in Columbia, S.C., Boyd was harassed throughout the night and sputtered to a career-worst 11-for-29, 83-yard outing.
Dabo Swinney and the Tigers would like to erase anything that’s left of last year’s bowl game, a 70-33 BCS debacle in Miami against West Virginia. Clemson’s ACC Championship season was nearly forgotten after the record-setting embarrassment. LSU doesn’t have the offense to put up Mountaineer numbers, but unless Clemson gets it going early, the game could get ugly quick.
Will Clemson move the football with success against LSU?
Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE