Here is something for defensive coordinators to think about when they play No. 2 Clemson.
It is third- or fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line and Clemson sends in its “Jumbo Package,” which features two tight ends along with 6-foot-4, 310-pound defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, as well as 6-foot-5, 340-pound defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
Wilkins lines up as the H-Back / tight end offset of the line of scrimmage on the strong side, while Lawrence sets up just to the right of quarterback Deshaun Watson as the fullback. When the ball is snapped, Watson fakes the handoff to running back Wayne Gallman, while at the same time Wilkins acts like he is going to hit someone and then escapes to the end zone where he catches the ball for an easy touchdown.
“I don’t know. We will see. Hopefully, they have something,” Wilkins said smiling.
This possibility, which has defensive coordinators staying awake even longer now when they play the Tigers, comes after Clemson used Wilkins and Lawrence down near the goal line on Gallman’s one-yard run in the second quarter against Auburn.
“I didn’t even get touched,” Gallman said. “It was the easiest touchdown I ever scored.”
The idea to use Wilkins and Lawrence on the goal line came during a coaches meeting this summer. When camp begin, Clemson head coach Swinney approached Lawrence about it early in camp, but they did not start practicing the play until they got to game preparations for Auburn.
“I was excited. ‘Oh, maybe I’m getting the ball.’ Then he just told me I was blocking so I can do that to,” Lawrence said. “I just told Wayne, ‘That whenever we do this play, you are getting in the end zone.’”
So far they are one-for-one.
Swinney said he saw Lawrence and Wilkins sharing the backfield together as lead blockers when they signed Lawrence.
“We saw him in the spring, and I said ‘Yep, we are going to be using this big boy.’ We didn’t mess with it in the spring, we brought it to him this summer and said we are going to have a little package and use these guys,” Swinney said. “We just started practicing it in fall camp, and we have a nice package out of it and can go to it when we need it.
“Those were some big heavy duty guys that take pride in that, it really isn’t rocket science.”
Wilkins says his instruction on the play is simple, “Just block the first person you see.”
Swinney says it all comes down to getting that one yard when you need it.
“Can you move that guy against his will? That is what it comes down to,” the Clemson coach said. “It is not like you have to trick a lot of people. Most of the time bigger talented guy beats the smaller, talented guy and that’s usually all it was.”
But will Swinney, Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott do more with the formation?
“You never know. We throw fake punts to D-tackles around here, so you never know what we are going to do,” Swinney said smiling.
Of course Wilkins was the D-tackle that caught the fake punt in Clemson’s win over Oklahoma in last year’s Orange Bowl victory. Watson scored two plays later on a quarterback draw.
All Wilkins knows is that every time he comes in and plays on offense, the Tigers always score touchdowns. So why not throw it?
“I don’t know, but I’m hoping there is a lot more in store. I hope I get to see a little bit more of that because I have fun going in on offense and everything,” the sophomore said. “It is a shorter run for me to celebrate and everything when they get in the end zone instead of sprinting in all the way from the sideline.”