Clemson defenders explain how they exploited weakness they discovered in Tua Tagovailoa's game by studying his film
Despite having a truly incredible individual season, the lasting image many have of Tua Tagovailoa has defined him this entire offseason. That’s just the way it is at Alabama under Nick Saban these days. Winning 14 consecutive games to start the season is nice but it doesn’t mean as much if the Crimson Tide don’t walk off the field for the final time as national champions.
That’s a harsh but accurate reality for many Alabama fans and one that has defined Tagovailoa heading into his junior season in the eyes of some college football fans. Considering he completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,996 yards with 43 touchdowns and only six interceptions — and arguably should have won the Heisman Trophy — in his first season starting for Alabama, that’s probably an unfair criticism of Tagovailoa.
However, be that as it may, Clemson clearly took advantage of Alabama’s quarterback in the latest College Football Playoff National Championship Game and exploited what they saw on film to help open the game with a Pick Six that appeared to set the tone for the evening.
So, what was it that the Tigers saw that allowed them to do that? They explained just that in a recent AL.com article from Michael Casagrande.
“Really, we knew that he wasn’t reading the defenses that well in the backfield,” former Clemson defensive lineman Bert Huggins said. “So, we were disguising the defense pretty well and then we would move into a different defense. He just couldn’t read the defense.”
Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph credited defensive coordinator Brent Venables for exhausting game planning.
“We understand what he wanted to do and we wanted to exploit it,” Joseph said. “It started with trying to knock him off rhythm and get some pressure and get some hits on him and try to rattle the quarterback and I think we did a good job of that.”
Those are some interesting observations from Clemson’s defenders on facing Tagovailoa. When you think back to his first performance in a national championship game, this is something Georgia would not have seen coming based on a lack of available film to pick apart on Tagovailoa. While his poor performance in the 2018 SEC Championship Game was chalked up to being injured against the Dawgs, it’s possible Kirby Smart and his program picked up on some of the same things Clemson saw leading up to the latest title game.
The entire AL.com article is well worth checking out. You can read it here.