Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell said on Monday that Clemson’s defense doesn’t just want to limit or contain Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals’ offense on Saturday night — they want to dominate.
“We’re going to go into the game looking to dominate the game because that’s just how our defense is,” Ferrell said.
That’s the mindset Clemson’s defense carried into the game against Georgia Tech on Thursday night, Ferrell said, and it’s the way the defense approaches each game.
The mentality has seemed to work so far, as Clemson’s defense has been dominant through four games.
After holding Georgia Tech’s offense to just 124 total yards — its lowest yardage total in 23 years — Clemson’s defense ranks third in the country in yards allowed (219 per game), third in passing yards allowed (125.8 per game), 15th in rushing yards allowed (92.8 per game) and fifth in points allowed (11.0 per game).
The Tigers also rank in the top 25 in sacks (13) and interceptions (seven).
“We look at every game as we have to go in and we have to try and dominate the game,” Ferrell said, “because that’s just the type of defense that we want to be.”
Like Clemson’s defense, Louisville’s offense ranks among the nation’s best in every statistical category.
Louisville is led by dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson, of course. Through four games, the sophomore has accounted for 25 total touchdowns, including a nation-leading 12 rushing touchdowns.
Ferrell joked that he hasn’t even had a quarterback put up numbers like that on a video game in a while.
“Not since Madden ’07 with Michael Vick on there,” Ferrell said with a laugh.
Jackson is also fifth in the nation with 526 rushing yards.
Ferrell said it’s going to take more than arm tackles to bring down Jackson when he tucks the ball and runs with it.
“He’s elusive. He can definitely move inside that pocket, and when he gets out of the pocket, he can run with the best of them,” Ferrell said. “So, definitely just honing in on tackling. No arm tackles with this guy — you have to bring him down to the ground.”
While Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense and Louisville’s spread offense don’t have much in common, Ferrell said the discipline Clemson played with against the Yellow Jackets will again be paramount against the Cardinals.
“With a guy like (Jackson), you have to be disciplined playing against him,” Ferrell said. “He’s a guy that likes to run a lot if the play breaks down, so the type of discipline that we played with against Georgia Tech is something that we have to take into the next game against the quarterback we’re going to be facing.”
The Tigers haven’t been oblivious to all the hype surrounding Jackson and Louisville. It’s just not something they’re paying attention to.
Like each week, Clemson is trying to treat this matchup like every other game, and trying to focus on itself.
“We know what we can do as a defense, and that’s all that really matters to us,” Ferrell said. “We just have to focus in on the plan the coaches have for us. We’re definitely going to have to play our best game because it’s a big challenge for us. This is probably the best offense that we’ve seen so far this year and definitely one of the best we’re going to see all year.
“But the main thing is just honing in on the plan the coaches have for us. It’s going to be a good plan, we just have to execute it.”