No one has done a better job at slowing down No. 3 Clemson’s offense the last two years than Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
In 2014, the Cardinals, who visit Death Valley in a primetime matchup with the Tigers on Saturday, came to Memorial Stadium and held Clemson to 226 total yards. Though the Tigers totaled 401 yards in last season’s game at Papa John’s Stadium, Louisville forced two Deshaun Watson interceptions and held the Heisman Finalist to 199 passing yards and to just 253 overall.
“Last year, they did what they did and who knows what they are going to come out this Saturday and do,” Watson said on Monday. “Everything changes. Everyone has different schemes. No one is going to go out there and do what they did the previous four years. There is always going to be something different each and every week.”
Last year, the Cardinals played off Clemson’s wide receivers and kept everything in front of them, preventing the big plays. Though they limited the big plays, they sacked Watson just once and watched as he threw touchdown passes to Jordan Leggett and Hunter Renfrow as the Tigers escaped with a 20-17 victory.
Clemson also rushed for 202 yards on 40 carries.
This season, Grantham’s defense has been more aggressive in his 3-4 scheme. The Cardinals are tied for third in the ACC with 15 sacks, two more than the Tigers’ nationally ranked defense. They also have 34 tackles for loss, which is 10th nationally and four behind Clemson, who has 38.
“They have a pretty good front seven. They are very active and very aggressive,” Watson said. “Whatever scheme they are in, they are just trying to perfect their craft and play their keys.”
Louisville ranks 13th nationally in total defense, yielding just 278.3 yards per game. The opposition is just 14 of 64 on third downs as well, which ranks 8th nationally.
“All these guys have been in the system before so they know what they are doing. They have experience in doing the things their coach wants them to do each and every week,” Watson said.
They have experience in shutting down Clemson’s offensive, too.